Do you see problems or opportunities everywhere you look?

“This is the only chance you will ever have on earth with this exciting adventure called life. So why not plan it, and try to live it as richly, as happily as possible?” — Dale Carnegie

It was a number of years ago at one of our international conventions that we had a keynote speaker named Danny Cox. The title of his presentation was, “The Fine Art of Swallowing Frogs.” His point was that when you have some frogs to swallow (problems that need attention NOW), you should swallow the big frog first because the other ones go down a lot easier after that. There was one part of his speech that really stuck with me. He talked about how many people have a habit of “repeating yesterday.” When asked how yesterday went, they say somewhere between “OK” and “not so good.” Pretty sad.

On the flip side of that less-than-positive habit and outlook, he suggested that maybe we should approach every day with this attitude and mantra: “Today is the best day of my life and tomorrow will be even better!”

There are abundant examples of how people let events control their lives rather than the other way around. There is an argument with a coworker that turns a good day into a bad day. There is that disgruntled, unhappy, very vocal customer who screams you into a bad mood. There is that associate who continues to drive you crazy with repeated insubordination. The list goes on and on. The common theme is that the folks who are on the receiving end of all this negativity have the habit of letting things happen — or worse yet, letting these events control their own emotions and lives. It gets even worse because these same people go home at the end of the day and guess what? They carry that same negative, victim attitude to those closest to them. Is this any way to live? NO!

Rather than seeing the glass as always half empty, why not do exactly the opposite and take control of your life. French philosopher Michel de Montaigne made this pretty profound comment over 500 years ago: “My life has been full of terrible misfortunes, most of which never happened.” Yes, crummy things do happen. Do they have to be as terrible as we think they are and let them take charge? NO! It is truly not what happens that is important because in many cases we have little to no control over the events of the day. We do, however, have 100% control of how we respond to those events. Life is either full of problems or opportunities, depending on your perspective. It is not what you have that counts; it is what you do with what you have.

So why not live that exciting, incredible adventure called life on the high road and enjoy the ride!

Many of you have probably heard the story below before, but this little fable serves as a good summary of this discussion:

Once there were five-year-old twin boys, one a pessimist and the other an optimist. Wondering how two boys who seemed so alike could be so different, their parents took them to a psychiatrist.

The psychiatrist took the pessimist to a room piled high with new toys, expecting the boy to be thrilled. But instead he burst into tears. Puzzled, the psychiatrist asked, “Don’t you want to play with these toys?”

“Yes,” the little boy bawled, “but if I did I’d only break them.”

Next the psychiatrist took the optimist to a room piled high with horse manure. The boy yelped with delight, clambered to the top of the pile, and joyfully dug out scoop after scoop, tossing the manure into the air with glee.

“What on earth are you doing?” the psychiatrist asked.

“Well,” said the boy, beaming, “there’s got to be a pony in here somewhere!” — Author unknown

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