Life Is All About Attitude

How do you keep life's misfortunes from getting you down? Some tips from one woman's experience.

It’s not what happens to you that’s important, it’s how you spin it. If you don’t believe that, read on.

Joanne lost her job a month ago. He car is leaking every fluid. She’s been donating plasma to get money to feed her son, whose birthday is tomorrow. She’s had to postpone his birthday celebration for lack of funds. So why is she smiling?

"Sure I lost my job," she says, "but it wasn’t much of a job and I needed to find a better one anyway. My car’s a mess, but at least I have a car and it always starts. Donating plasma is no fun, but I’m lucky I can. And it hurts to disappoint my son, but I’m proud that I’ve raised a child who’s okay with that. I’m fortunate. Things could be worse."

Joanne lands a job. On the Friday before she’s scheduled to start, she wakes up with a cough and fever. The next day her new boss calls to tell her that he can’t start her for two weeks. She ends up laid up for a week. When I express my concern, she shrugs.

"Oh well," she says. "Stuff happens. But what if I had called in sick my first week? I would have lost the job. I’m lucky I got sick now, not later. Someone’s looking out for me. Things will work out, they always do."

How can she be so positive? She’s sick, she’s broke, her car needs work, and the paycheck she had counted on will be delayed by two weeks. But Joanne sees adversities as setbacks and looks for the good in them. Her childhood was filled with poverty and violence, yet she’s the happiest person I know. How does she do it?

"It’s a waste," she says, "to go through life dwelling on what’s wrong. If you’ve never been down, how can you tell what up is? I may not have much, but I know when life is good. I’m alive. How can you ask for more than that?"

It’s that simple. We can see our lives as a constant struggle, or we can see our problems as temporary setbacks that give us a yardstick to measure the value of what we have. We can be dissatisfied over what’s wrong, or concentrate on what’s right. Whenever I have a problem, I think of Joanne and I smile. I’m alive. How can I ask for more than that?