Do You Choose to Feel Bitter or Better?

curly hair woman with black frame glass happily stands beside whiteboard with mathematics functions smiling
by Helena Popovic

Write down the names of three people who have made a positive difference to your life. Stop reading for a minute and do this right now. This process has the potential to transform your life.

How did they make a difference to you? Was it something they did or said? Was it how they treated you? Was it who they were?

Were they famous people? Celebrities? Or would they consider themselves to be ordinary?

There are many people on my list. Some people because they inspired me from a distance without ever knowing me. Some people because they gave me a reassuring smile or a kind word during a dark moment. Some people because they didn’t judge me. Some people because I loved them and it gave me the spark to do something different.

When I was growing up (and hopefully still am but I’m referring to when I was a child), whenever something happened that made me upset, my father would ask, ‘Do you want this to make you better or bitter?’
I would always answer, ‘Better!’
‘Tell me how this could make you better,’ he would respond.

It didn’t matter how big or small, serious or trivial the issue, we always turned it into the ‘Better not bitter game’. We played it so often (I got into a lot of scrapes) that the game became a habit. Even to this day, I still play ‘Better not bitter’ and I’ve shared the game with many people throughout my life.

Recently a friend rang to tell me how she’d played the game with her 10 year old son. A year ago he’d felt devastated that he hadn’t won a scholarship to a big name school. So she asked him the question, ‘Do you want this to make you better or bitter?’ Of course he answered ‘better’ but at the time he hadn’t answered how. At the end of that year he won a merit prize for the first time.
‘It worked!’ he beamed at his mother, when he showed her his prize.
‘What worked?’ she asked.
‘Being better!’
‘How?’ she asked
‘I kept saying to myself, how can I be better? How I can learn better and do my homework better? And it worked.’

I believe ‘it worked’ because he went from feeling crushed to being curious. It changed his attitude and re-energised his efforts.

Although Dad didn’t know it, he’d made a positive difference to countless people because each person I told about the game, shared it with someone else who shared it with someone else and on it keeps going.

One person can make a difference. And that includes you.

Whose list would you like to be on?
How can you make a difference?
By being YOU.
Recall the wisdom of Dr Seuss: ‘Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is you-er than you.’

Live as if who you are and what you do makes a difference. It does

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