Most movie lovers agree that watching a 3D film is more thrilling than watching the same film in 2D. But to appreciate the thrill of a 3D movie, one must put on 3D stereoscopic glasses. “A 3D film viewed without glasses, as one movie critic put it, “is a very strange sight and may appear out of focus, fuzzy or out of register”.
The difference in reaction to life is the difference in perspectives- the attitudes through which we ‘see’ it. The same can be said about a broader spectrum of life. In this beautiful world of ours, two people will be experiencing the same life situation; one will love it, but the other will be mortified by it.
For example, most of us harbour unrealistic expectations that are based on misinformation at best and fantasy at worst. Typically, we all believe that the best is yet to come. Most of us think that yesterday was better than today, and we always want to believe that tomorrow will be even better. This attitude causes us to despise our present and long for our ‘good old days.
No one has ever seen tomorrow. Every time tomorrow comes, we call it ‘today’. Some of us have developed a pathological attitude of hating our today at the expense of our tomorrow. When ‘tomorrow’ finally arrives, we don’t find it as great as we expected—this way, we never enjoy our life because we’re caged in a circle of disappointments.
A recent study published by Brock University in Canada shows that even depressed individuals believe in a brighter future. The findings prove that adults with a history of depression tended to evaluate their past and current lives in more negative terms than adults without depression. Still, this negativity didn’t extend to their beliefs about the future.
“It turns out that even clinically depressed individuals are also characterized by the belief that one’s life in the future will be more satisfying than one’s past and current life. And this pattern of beliefs appears to be a risk factor for future depression, even over ten years.” Says Michael Busseri, a psychological scientist and lead researcher at Brock University.
In his book, Man’s Search For Meaning, Dr Victor Frankyl tells a story of a man known as “ F”, a fellow prisoner at the Nazi concentration camp who held a dream of freedom. Believed to have heard a divine voice, F thought that come 30.3.1945, WWII would end, their suffering would be over, and they would finally be able to enjoy their life again. But as the promised day drew nearer, the war news which reached our camp made it unlikely that they would be accessible on the promised date. On March twenty-ninth, F suddenly became ill and ran a high temperature. On March thirtieth, the day his prophecy had told him that the war and suffering would be over for him, he became delirious and lost consciousness. On March thirty-first, he was dead.
Dr Frankyl, a renowned Psychiatrist himself, said, “ The ultimate cause of my friend’s death was that the expected liberation did not come and he was severely disappointed. This suddenly lowered his body’s resistance against the latent typhus infection. His faith in the future and his will to live had become paralyzed and his body fell victim to illness—and thus the voice of his dream was right after all. “
The scripture says that a fulfilled dream is a source of life, but deferred hope leads to a broken heart. (Proverbs 13:12)
Depression results from a poisonous thought that says a particular circumstance – regardless of when it happens – is both harmful and unnecessary. Depressed people are victims of their beliefs. They harbour negative thoughts about something that happened in the past, something currently happening or the unknown future. Having great expectations about your future but harbouring guilt and resentment about your life experience does not help.
Am I saying hope is useless? Not at all. I’m saying that expectation based entirely on human information is potentially disappointing. Since God’s love lasts forever, the only hope that never disappoints is that which is rooted in God’s perspective. In practice, this means that unfailing hope is based on the understanding that God – the all-powerful with an unquestionable everlasting love – can never allow anything to come my way unless it has eternal good. This is the fabric of a Three Dimensional (3D) perspective.
A 3D perspective sees life from God’s Perspective, through the lens of God’s love. 3D view sees each circumstance – past, present or future – to be uniquely profitable in its own right and yet harmoniously interconnected to produce a one fulfilling, continuous (eternal) life. A person wearing a 3D attitude strongly believes whatever God let happen yesterday, whatever is happening today and tomorrow – no matter how it feels – is distinctively valuable. It fits perfectly in God’s good grand plan.
This, I must add, does not mean we should be naïve, accept every circumstance– including those needing improvement – as they come and do absolutely nothing about them. In this life, there are two types of events. First, there are changeable circumstances – things we’re meant to work hard to change. Then there are the unchangeable – circumstances that were meant to change us. In other words, we’re supposed to change the changeable and endure the unchangeable.
In the words of Reinhold Niebuhr, we’re supposed to ask God to grant us the courage to change the things we can, the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, and the wisdom to know the difference.
I firmly believe that every circumstance – be it during the process of changing or enduring them – is meant to improve our lives by strengthening us.
Every life moment has a sweet and sour facet. Though different, both aspects are equally precious. The lovely bit of life makes us feel fulfilled and helps us enjoy our life more. The sour bit makes us twitch for a moment but is equally good because it serves as an ingredient of future sweet moments. Today’s sour is tomorrow’s sweet. Without a doubt, tomorrow will be better and different in many ways. Still, the bitter moments of yesterday and today are the ones that will make taste tomorrow better.
I firmly believe the best is yet to come. In the meantime, I’ll cherish my memories, draw inspiration, and learn from my past experiences as I make the most of my present that’s already here. And in case the future won’t represent the best I expected, I am prepared to enjoy my life journey never the less.
Therefore, the secret to enduring joy is to always keep your eyes on the brighter side of life. And when you’re forced to glare at life’s dark side, put on the 3D glasses of God’s love. In so doing, I promise, you’ll see things differently.