By Dave Balch
Last winter I flew to Dallas, connecting with a flight to Ohio. On the first leg of the trip I sat next to a surly and haggard-looking woman; as I got settled in my seat I thought to myself, “How soon can I put on my headphones so I don’t have to listen to her problems? I KNOW it’s coming.”
Sure enough, the thought was barely out of my head when she started in: “I hate Texas.”
I had to be polite, so I asked why.
She answered me, sounding like a whining five-year-old. “There’s nothing to do there, it’s too hot, there’s no ocean, no mountains, no family — all that stuff is back home in California. I HATE Texas, but I have to come here 5 or 6 times a year.”
The plane was now backing out of the gate; mentally I was calculating how much longer until the headphones can come out.
“If you hate it so much, why do you come here 5 or 6 times a year?” I asked, trying to sound interested.
“My husband lives here. He’s stationed here and I have to come even though I hate it.”
I felt sorry for her, but still found the whole thing amusing. This woman was making herself miserable, wallowing in all of the negatives. I said, “But you get to see your husband!”
She said, “It isn’t worth it.”
I told her in the cheeriest tone I could muster under the circumstances, “I’m going to Ohio, and when I get there I have to drive over an hour in the dark in 14-degree weather and blowing snow.” (All true.) “What an adventure; I can’t wait!”
And then it hit me: your life experience is what you decide it will be. She made the decision, consciously or not, to focus on the negatives of her situation and to be miserable. I decided to turn the negatives of my situation into an adventure and was excited about it!
You’ve probably heard it before: it’s all about your attitude. Your attitude determines your life. Sure there are things that happen to you that, quite frankly, stink. Like cancer, for example, or some other serious illness.
Are you going to wallow in it and make yourself sicker? Or are you going to go with it and try to focus on something positive? It’s your choice.
I often talk about how you hear the things that you say out loud and take them to heart. This is a great example of that – if the woman on the plane had decided to focus on something positive she not only would have been happier, but probably prettier as well. Attractive people can actually become physically repulsive if they are full of negativity. The reverse is true as well.
How do you want to live?
My wife and I like to laugh. She got cancer and it certainly wasn’t funny, but we looked for and found things to laugh about. It was our choice. We could have just as easily focused on how scary everything was and how expensive and how stressful and… etc. But our lives would have been miserable and, to be blunt, she would probably be dead by now.
Even though you may be faced with monumental challenges, choose to find the positives in your situation. Easy to say, very hard to do; but most worthwhile things in life are hard to do.
And they ARE worth it.