A Life Half-Full? (Part II)


b16b02894dccbbf23d2553b7693a-660x439Greetings from Guatemala. In my last post I wrote about the nature of being positive. I mentioned that people tend to become what they believe themselves to be. An interesting development philosophy known as Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) talks about the metaphor of the glass half-full. My mom always used to say this about me - that I’m a glass half-full kinda guy, and I would always apply it to milk for some reason. I thought my mom said this because I loved milk. In turn, I would always make sure my glass was half-full. If you have enough milk, why wouldn’t you?

Eventually, of course, I came to realize it’s not about the glass or the milk. It’s about something true. Do you identify the empty space first? Do you ask what it lacks? Do you start by identifying flaws and weaknesses? Or do you see what the glass already contains? Do you point to its strengths? Do you recognize the glass's great fortune to house such a delicious liquid to exactly half its capacity?

Do you tell your daughter she is unstable, has ADHD, cannot do what she loves, and expect her to get better? Or do you tell her she is passionate, filled with the heart of an activist, a woman on the cusp of becoming the woman that life intended her to be?

Do you tell people they are sick, poor, dirty, hungry and in need of fixing? Do you look to your own plans and forego the power and depth of your neighbors’ knowledge? Or do you settle in and live humbly alongside them, listening to their stories, brainstorming ways to build on their brilliant ideas? Do you tell them they are resilient, intelligent, resourceful, and have an amazing capacity for love?

The cool thing about self-fulfilling prophecies is you control them. By focusing on the strengths, assets, and beauty of individuals - and by extension, entire communities - we create the conditions in which relationships thrive, projects prosper, and independence is placed in the hands of community members. They are no longer sick, helpless people who rely on our support for betterment. They are strong, motivated people who accept any support on their own terms and under their own conditions. They dictate how their future will unfold. They, in the end, help us to heal. Together we all become better. Together we “develop.” How else could it be?