Are you the sort of person who believes a glass is half full, not half empty? Do you refuse to give in when faced with a situation that looks as bleak as can be? Do you tell yourself, there has to be a way forward, and try, against all the odds, to find that way? Sometimes life seems so relentlessly cruel, there appears to be no end to the bad times, no glimmer of light on the horizon.
In those circumstances, how do you keep your glass half full? How do you keep on going, when you are motoring on empty? After all, every one of us is touched by life at some point, and we never know where or how it will touch us- only that at some point, it will.
Life can be tragically short. It can be far too cruel in its consequences, and the circumstances we find ourselves in may seem earth-shattering.
Sometimes people bring the miseries of life upon themselves. They have a great deal going for them, but it’s not enough. I recently watched a documentary on Channel 4 about an accident and emergency department. A woman with a broken back was stretchered in agony into the hospital. How had she done it? She had fallen out of a tree at an alcohol-fuelled “divorce party”. Then there was rock musician Ian Watkins, recently sent to prison for 35 years because of his depraved offences against babies. His own life is effectively over – but it’s his own fault.
But what if it isn’t your fault? What if life turns sour and there’s nothing you could have done to prevent it? What if it’s divorce? Loss of a beloved partner? How do you keep your glass half full then? Or will you feel too sorry for yourself to face it, accept it and move on, holding your head high and living life as it should be lived?
I like my glass half full. Life has certainly thrown things at me in my personal life this year, but after taking stock I have discovered that I can indeed cope. It’s true that I’m raw and bereaved, but also more pragmatic, tougher and even… calmer. I have faced up to challenges I never foresaw. I kept going, tried to make my life more joyous despite some months when I felt assailed by life throwing too much at me, including the effects of a fall when I looked absolutely shocking and at those times, I had to search hard. I found out that friends, real friends are few. There are plenty who talk a good talk, few who walked the walk, with me. Such is human nature. Accept and move on.
So for everyone who is finding life tough right now, and I know there are many out there, my message at Christmas time is this: like it or not, life touches us all. No one escapes. Even those whose lives appear to be perfect. Envy no one, expect always to be touched by life. But when it finally touches you much too hard and relentlessly, the sky is still blue, flowers will blossom. We are still privileged to live in a beautiful world and it is still a beautiful, wonderful life filled with wonderful things, if we have the strength to look at our world positively. You just need to find the will to focus on the good parts, to keep going and think to the future. Don’t hark back to what can never be changed.
In my London office, I have a photograph of me standing underneath a pink cherry blossom tree in my garden in Yorkshire. I put it there to remember my mother, who when I was a little girl, said it was my ‘birthday’ tree as it always bloomed around my birthday. But it’s also in pride of place because it bloomed this year pinker and stronger than I can ever remember. When I look at that photograph, I am filled with hope, courage and love.
With a little determination, as time passes, even though life may seem unendingly bleak, like me, you will come through, and ultimately, you will do so with a smile. And I hope your glass will always be more than half full. I hope it will be filled to the brim, with the finest champagne.
Very Happy Christmas.