We have a positive attitude

Next week’s ethos theme is: ‘We have a positive attitude.’ I found this short story (here) which explains the importance of acknowledging all the positives in our lives rather than focusing on the one or two ‘black spots’ which seem to dominate or taint our happiness and well-being.

One day a teacher asked his children to prepare for a surprise test. They waited anxiously at their desks for the test to begin. The teacher walked around the class and handed the question papers with the text facing downwards.

Once he handed them all out, he asked the class to turn the page and begin. To everyone’s surprise, there were no questions, but just a black dot in the centre of the page. The teacher saw everyone’s bewildered expressions and said “I want you to write what you see.”

The perplexed children began to do what they had been asked to do. At the end of the class, the teacher took all the answer papers and started reading each one of them aloud in front of all the children. All of them with no exceptions described the black dot, trying to explain its position in the middle of the sheet, etc. After all had been read, the classroom silent, the teacher began to explain.

“I am not going to mark this test; I just wanted to give you something to think about. No one wrote about the white part of the paper. Everyone focused on the black dot – and the same happens in our lives. This is exactly what we tend to do with our lives. We have a white paper to hold onto and enjoy, but we are so busy contemplating the dark spots we see.

Life is a special gift and we will always have reasons to celebrate. It is constantly changing and renewing – our friends, jobs, livelihood, love, family, the miracles we see every day. And yet we insist on focusing only on the dark spots – the health issues that are bothering us, the money that we need, the luxuries we don’t have, complications in relationships, the disappointment with a friend and so on. You need to realise that the dark spots are very small and only few; and yet we allow these to consume our energy.”

Next week, I will be talking to the children in assembly about how having a positive attitude can really make a difference to our resilience when things get tough. I am not suggesting that problems and challenges should be ignored but explaining that taking a step back and putting these hurdles into perspective is an important part of managing and resolving them. Take your eyes away from the black spots in life. Count your blessings, not your problems.