Full, or Empty? You Choose.

Is it half-full or half-empty? Well, it depends. Image courtesy of The Independent

By Siya Chhabra (’24)

Most likely, one has stumbled upon the question of “Is the glass half-full or half-empty?” Being one of the most perplexing questions and axiomatic phrases of our time, it can be difficult to answer in certain situations. As a mindset determinant, this question is the definition of the interlacing of self-understanding and optimism. 

In his Ted Talk named “Your Mindset Determines Your Tomorrow,” Heinrich Popow, a tenacious Paralympic Games, World Championships, and European Championships athlete, asserts the importance of an optimistic mindset, even when it seems as if all odds are stacked against you. At the mere age of nine years old, Popow was obliged to complete the dreadful act of receiving a leg amputation, due to the prevalence of a rare bone cancer within his body. Given only six months to live, and internally destroyed by this news, Popow’s reaction was similar to that of any diagnosed child: livid and uncooperative. After being sent to various psychological doctors and other individuals to assist in mental health, Popow continued to disagree and reject his circumstances. Nevertheless, another amputee was sent to converse with Popow, and allowed him to recognize and appreciate what he had, and not ponder upon what he was to lose. Incentivized, Popow agreed to obtaining an amputation, which he credits for saving his life and being the reason he is constantly sanguine. In his words, “I lost my leg, yes, but I never lost the passion to live my life.” 

Seemingly unfortunately, subsequent to his amputation, Popow experienced rejection from his classmates, who always ensured to choose him to generally do the non-athletically related tasks. Whether it was being a water-boy, or not playing at all, Popow was slightly discouraged, but kept his hopes high. Soon, individuals allowed him to be a goalkeeper, indirectly giving him the opportunity to “turn disability into ability.” Using his artificial, metal leg as a legitimate superpower, Popow displayed his athletic ability. Through this experience, he developed the “glass-half-full” mentality, by recognizing that each moment possesses both positive and negative aspects.

In the near future, through various obstacles and achievement of goals, Popow built his career to become a professional athlete. In his motivational talk, he personified his accidentally-dented medal, and displays that now, his first instinct is to recall the good, and not immediately the bad. Heinrich Popow changed his mindset, and hopes that others will, as well. The turn of events within his life made him who he is now, and he aspires the same idiosyncratic journey for everyone else. Using the renowned Bruce Lee’s quote, Popow enunciates the significance of being malleable to one’s situation, and wholeheartedly accepting events that occur. Altering a mindset means accepting challenges, persisting in the face of obstacles, taking initiative to achieve goals, and acknowledging that positivity is the path toward comprehension. By spreading the message of acquiring a fervid mentality, Popow’s willpower and optimism should be an inspiration to all, especially in circumstances where one feels like giving up, and completely and utterly defeated. Especially in an unprecedented time like this, developing Popow’s mentality is important for well-being. So, is the glass half-full, or half-empty? Well, it depends on the way you see it. 

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