Our state of mind is a choice that reflects the emotions we allow to have priority. Think about that for a moment; now picture the guy sitting on a bench with a frown on his face and his shoulders slumped over and leaning his head on his hands. We have all seen someone like this. Now think about how the guy looked, was he scruffy, were his clothes wrinkled, or did he look professional? What reputation did you give him in your mind? Did the sorry state of the man help to determine his image as you pictured him. I thought so. We all go through trials and hard times. Some times are better than others, but only we can decide our response to them. I heard a story, on the radio, a while ago that illustrated this point well; it goes like this:
John is the kind of guy you love to hate. He is always in a good mood and always has something positive to say. When someone would ask him how he was doing, he would reply, ‘If I were any better, I would be twins!’ He was a natural motivator.If an employee was having a bad day, John was there telling the employee how to look on the positive side of the situation. Seeing this style really made me curious, so one day I went up and asked him, “I don’t get it! You can’t be a positive person all of the time. How do you do it?”He replied, “Each morning I wake up and say to myself, you have two choices today. You can choose to be in a good mood, or you can choose to be in a bad mood. I choose to be in a good mood.Each time something bad happens, I can choose to be a victim, or I can choose to learn from it. I choose to learn from it. Every time someone comes to me complaining, I can choose to accept their complaining, or I can point out the positive side of life. I choose the positive side of life.”“Yeah, right, it’s not that easy,” I protested.“Yes, it is,” he said. “Life is all about choices. When you cut away all the junk, every situation is a choice. You choose how you react to situations. You choose how people affect your mood. You choose to be in a good mood or bad mood. The bottom line: It’s your choice how you live your life.”I reflected on what he said. Soon hereafter, I left the Tower Industry to start my own business. We lost touch, but I often thought about him when I made a choice about life instead of reacting to it.Several years later, I heard that he was involved in a serious accident, falling some 60 feet from a communications tower. After 18 hours of surgery and weeks of intensive care, he was released from the hospital with rods placed in his back. I saw him about six months after the accident.When I asked him how he was, he replied, “If I were any better, I’d be twins…Wanna see my scars?” I declined to see his wounds, but I did ask him what had gone through his mind as the accident took place. “The first thing that went through my mind was the well-being of my soon-to-be born daughter,” he replied. “Then, as I lay on the ground, I remembered that I had two choices: I could choose to live, or I could choose to die. I chose to live.”‘Weren’t you scared? Did you lose consciousness?’ I asked. He continued, “The paramedics were great. They kept telling me I was going to be fine. But when they wheeled me into the ER and I saw the expressions on the faces of the doctors and nurses, I got really scared. In their eyes, I read ‘he’s a dead man’. I knew I needed to take action.”‘What did you do?’ I asked. “Well, there was a big burly nurse shouting questions at me,” said John. “She asked if I was allergic to anything. “Yes, I replied.” The doctors and nurses stopped working as they waited for my reply. I took a deep breath and yelled, “Gravity.” Over their laughter, I told them, “I am choosing to live. Operate on me as if I am alive, not dead.”He lived, thanks to the skill of his doctors, but also because of his amazing attitude. I learned from him that every day we have the choice to live fully.Attitude, after all, is everything.
Whether or not that story is true doesn’t matter, because people have lived similar lives. The question is, how do we get to that point? I believe it starts with something so simple that we gloss over it. Desire. The source of our attitude, and the source of our life. We need to want to be happy and successful enough to overcome the fear of both. Fear? How could we be afraid of happiness and success? Well, I have noticed that people who are chronically sad and depressed actually fear being happy. They will routinely choose things that will elicit disappointment or sadness. Why, because it is known territory. To be happy you have to open part of yourself up, you have to be honest with yourself most of all. That’s where the fear comes in. So how does one overcome that fear? My answer, by finding the humor in it. It’s funny that we can ultimately be afraid of making ourselves better, even through fear of failure. How pointless is our fear? Have you ever thought of it that way?
Smile when you find humor; it’s as simple as that. First you find the humor then you smile about it, easy right? Well it should be, but sometimes we have to relearn the process of smiling. We become so guarded and rigid that we can forget that it is ok to smile. The next step in the process is laughter. It may take a while before you can really laugh again but try anyway. Laughter is essential to our lives. There have been many studies done on the positive effect smiling and laughter has on our health. So laugh! Laugh when things are good, laugh when it’s bad, laugh at the irony of life.
So where are we in this tangled mess of words? We have basically discussed choosing our attitudes through smiling and laughter, now what of success? Success is the stubborn application of our actions and attitude to stimulate a positive outcome. To put it simply, if we happily work toward a goal, we usually meet it. If our attitude it bad we can’t make the best choices and will most likely fail. So keep your chin up, your smile bright, and laugh your way to success. Again, choose to smile, choose happiness, choose success!