Change Your Outlook


Everything begins with a thought. To change a pattern or belief, we have to know what we’re thinking. So let’s get into our own minds. I want to share with you a story, and in essence, it illustrates that there’s two ways of looking at life, it’s the father and the crib, it’s a true story.

The father is looking down into the crib at his sleeping newborn daughter, just home from the hospital. His heart is overflowing with awe and gratitude for the beauty of her perfection. The baby opens her eyes and stares straight up. The father calls her name, expecting that she’ll turn her head and look at him. Her eyes don’t move.

He picks up a furry little toy attached to the rail of the bassinet and shakes it, ringing the bell it contains, the baby’s eyes don’t move. His heart has begun to beat rapidly. He finds his wife in the bedroom and tells her what has just happened. “She doesn’t seem to respond at all to noise,” he says. “It’s as if she can’t hear.”

“I’m sure she’s all right,” the wife says, pulling her dressing gown around her. Together they go into the nursery. She calls the baby’s name, jingles the bell and claps her hands. Then she picks up the baby, who immediately perks up, wiggling and cooing.

“My G-d,” the father says, “she’s deaf.”

“No, she’s not,” the mother says, “I mean it is too soon to say anything like that. Look, she is brand new, her eyes don’t even focus yet.” “But there wasn’t even the slightest movement, even when you clapped as hard as you could.” The mother takes a book from the shelf, “Let’s read what’s in the baby’s book,” she says. She looks up hearing and reads out loud. “Don’t be alarmed if your newborn fails to startle at loud noises or fails to orient towards sound. The startle reflex and attention to sound often take some time to develop. Your pediatrician can test your child’s hearing neurologically.” “There,” the mother says. “Doesn’t that make you feel better?” “Not much,” the father says, “It doesn’t even mention the other possibility, that the baby is deaf. All I know is that my baby doesn’t hear a thing, I’ve got the worst feeling about this. Maybe it’s because my grandfather is deaf. If that beautiful baby is deaf and it’s my fault, I’ll never forgive myself.”

Now stop, don’t think about this. What’s your thought? Are you worried for the baby, do you believe that the baby is deaf? Or do you go with the mother, let’s wait and see, it’s a newborn? What are you thinking?

“Hey, wait a minute,” says the wife. “You’re going off the deep end, we’ll call the pediatrician first thing Monday, and in the meantime, cheer up. Here, hold the baby while I fix her blanket, it’s all pulled out.” The father takes the baby, but gives her back to his wife as soon as he can. All weekend he finds himself unable to open his briefcase and prepare for next week’s work. He follows his wife around the house ruminating about the baby’s hearing, and about the way the deafness would ruin her life, he imagines only the worst, no hearing, no development of language, his beautiful child cut off from the social world, locked in soundless isolation.

By Sunday night he has sunk into deep despair. The mother leaves a message with the pediatrician’s answering machine asking for an early appointment Monday. She spends the weekend doing her exercises, reading, and trying to calm her husband. The pediatrician’s tests are reassuring, but the father’s spirits remain low. Not until a week later when she shows her first startle to the backfire of a passing truck does he begin to recover and enjoy his new daughter again.

Based on where you went as I told the story, you’re going to get an idea if you are leaning towards more of a pessimistic outlook or an optimistic outlook in how you approach things in your life.

This illustrates that there are two ways of looking at the world. The father, when something bad happens, clearly imagines the worst. A tax audit means bankruptcy and ultimately prison. A squabble with his wife means divorce. A frown from his employer means dismissal.

Now his wife, on the other hand, has a totally different outlook on life. She sees bad events in their least threatening light. To her they’re temporary and surmountable.

Are you an optimist or a pessimist?
What areas of your life could be improved by a change of outlook?

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