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Filling The Glass

By: Joyce Saltman, Ed.D. Prof Emeritus, Special Education - Southern Ct State University

This is one of those amazing stories that is circulated at least once a month, each time attributed to a teacher, professor, clergy or other folks known for their wisdom:


The lady confidently walked around the room with a raised glass of water while leading a seminar and explaining stress management to her audience. Everyone knew she was going to ask the ultimate question, 'Half empty or half full?' She fooled them all. "How heavy is this glass of water?" she inquired with a smile. Answers called out ranged from 8 oz. to 20 oz.

She replied, "The absolute weight doesn't matter. It depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute, that's not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I'll have an ache in my right arm. If I hold it for a day, you'll have to call an ambulance. In each case it's the same weight, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes."


She continued, "And that's the way it is with stress. If we carry our burdens all the time, sooner or later, as the burden becomes increasingly heavy, we won't be able to carry on. As with the glass of water, you have to put it down for a while and rest before holding it again. When we're refreshed, we can carry on with the burden - holding stress longer and better each time practiced.


“So, as early in the evening as you can, put all your burdens down. Don't carry them through the evening and into the night. Pick them up again tomorrow if you must.”


Why would I want to be sure you have all read this story? Because it is about "real life," and for those of us dealing with children and adults with special needs, we must be mindful, at all times, that we cannot give energy we don't have. It is more important than ever to be sure to replenish our storehouses, regularly - to put down the glass, and to restore our spirit. There is no better way to do that than with a solid infusion of humor!


Physically, we know that Laughter is the best medicine:

  • It enhances our immune system

  • It increases our heart rate

  • It Oxygenates our cells

  • And it even produces endorphins and encephalin, natural painkillers, 200X more powerful than morphine! (according to Dr. Deepak Chopra).

Psychologically, laughter helps us to see a rosier world, connecting us to other people, breaking down barriers with friends we have not yet met, and allowing our creativity to emerge with fewer restraints.

As a teacher, I was most complimented when a friend said, "You not only see the glass as half full, but you always try to fill the other half!" That, to me, is the primary function of educators - to help the students see their glasses full of joy, laughter, positivity and people who care about them. The gift of teaching is that each of us truly can make a difference in the lives of every child we touch; no-one has more power to change lives than we do!



So I close with another story… this one seen less frequently and attributed to no one in particular, yet one that only needs a class of one (at a time) to illustrate the smile…


I hired a plumber to help me restore an old farmhouse, and after he had just finished a rough first day on the job, a flat tire made him lose an hour of work & his electric drill quit, his ancient one-ton truck refused to start. As I drove him home, he sat in stony silence.

On arriving he invited me in to meet his family. As we walked toward the front door, he paused briefly at a small tree, touching the tips of the branches with both hands. Upon opening the door he had undergone an amazing transformation. His tanned face was wreathed in smiles and he hugged his two small children and gave his wife a kiss.

Afterward he walked me to the car. We passed the tree and my curiosity got the better of me. I asked him about what I had seen him do at the little tree.


"Oh, that's my trouble tree," he replied. "I know I can't help having troubles on the job, but one thing's for sure, those troubles don't belong in the house with my wife and the children. So I just hang them up on the tree every night when I come home and ask G-d to take care of them. Then in the morning I pick them up again. Funny thing is," he smiled, "when I come out in the morning to pick them up, there aren't nearly as many as I remember hanging up the night before." ~ Internet Unknown


About the Author:

Joyce Saltman, Ed.D. and Certified Humor Professional (CHP) is a professor Emeritus of Special Education at Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven, CT. Joyce’s innovative teaching style has led to the development of a graduate course entitled The Enhancement of Learning Through Humor, as well as a summer institute called, Healing, Education Laughter and Play (HELP). Her dynamic seminars and articles address such topics as dealing with difficult people, laughter as therapy, parenting, and relationships. As a result of her speaking engagements, she has been able to donate over one million dollars to her favorite various charities. Intermittently referred to as the Guru of Laughter, and The Chubby Broad from Brooklyn, Joyce helps people lighten up wherever she goes! 


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