The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Enid Features

September 4, 2013

Upside/downside of life

Do you look at the upside or downside of life? Think about it.

In other words, do you view a glass half empty or half full? So much depends on one’s perspective. There is not a single one of us that has not had a down day occasionally.  That is perfectly normal and expected. There has to be some dark clouds and rain in our lives sometimes, so we will appreciate the sunny days.  

When I was in about the fourth grade, we learned a poem in school from our reader about a challenge to look for the good things in life. The wording sounds a little funny now, but I kind of remember it. It went something like this (give or take a few words):

“Do not look for wrong or evil.  You will find them if you do.

“As you measure to your neighbor, He will measure back to you.

“Look for goodness. Look for gladness. You will meet them all the while.

“If you show a smiling visage to the world, you meet a smile.”

Back then, we read and memorized poetry in school, and so much of it has a message about being positive and doing the best we can be. I never was very good at memorizing things, but a few of them come to mine occasionally. They pop into my mind for no reason — and are just as soon gone again.  

I do think this little poem has a great message. If we look for bad things, we will find them. On the other hand, if we look for good things, we will find those, too. How much better and more enjoyable it is to see good in life.

In about fourth grade, we read  stories that pertained to lessons for living. We read them and discussed them without realizing we were being taught about life choices and morals, and how to treat people and be fair and to always do our best.  We don’t always do it, but we were taught it at home and at school and everywhere. Not money, nor fame, nor power, but joy in life, kindness, gracious manners, helpfulness and nobility of conduct — these are the real measures of what people are, and all of them can be readily developed.

We also learned how to rise above our failures. When we do that, we will be able to turn our energy to another direction. We learn by the mistakes we make and correct.  Then, things become easy.  

We were encouraged by our teacher (we had only one teacher for all eight grades in our one-room school), our parents and even grandparents to make a plan. A life without a plan is like a ship with no compass. It gets nowhere because it lacks direction. We need to learn from our  weaknesses and consider what we desire to be and accomplish in our lives. This lesson carried over into my adult life, as I have tried to lose weight at TOPS. First, we have to have a goal and then a plan.  Otherwise, we are just going in circles.  

To be on the upside of life, we need to keep fit. To be happy, we need a balance of exercise and proper eating. We also need to consider our motivation and support groups, and to deal with stress in our lives.  We cannot prevent stress, but only we can control how we react to what happens.

We need to develop life skills. In particular, it was stressed by our teachers and parents and grandparents to earn our own way and occupy our lives with useful things. Loyalty to country was pounded into our heads. We recited the pledge of allegiance every morning and said it with passion and feeling. We knew what a wonderful country we were privileged to live in.  

We were taught to enjoy life and living and to hold fast to our ideals.  Our teachers and parents wanted us to make our influence count for something. Our attitude can build up or tear down. It was instilled in us to spread joy — not gloom  and harmony ... not discord. We need to make some effort every day to be helpful to others.  

To be on the upside, we all need to keep learning.  Just because we have completed our grades in school is no reason to stop reading and exploring the world around us. We should select what goes into our minds as wisely as we do the food that nourishes our bodies.  

With these teachings early in life, is it any wonder that this older generation has such a positive, cheery outlook on life? Even during the Great Depression, with our lack of monetary things, we were happy and had hope for the future. We were taught to see the  upside of life. We looked for the silver lining in every cloud. We stayed positive.  

While  pondering all these things about the upside/downside of life that we learned back in grade school, we need to sit back, put our feet up, reflect and have a cookie. This  recipe is a new twist on cookies made with a cake mix; still easy, but a little different. Use any kind of cake mix you like, and add anything else you want, like chips, nuts, raisins, etc., depending on the kind of cake mix you use.  

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