One day I was walking along a pier in San Diego when I noticed a young woman dancing and softly singing to herself. She would occasionally stop and take a sip of her coffee. As I walked by, she waved and smiled, and it wasn’t just a run-of-the-mill, everyday smile. It was a radiant smile, and it was accompanied by an exuberant glow. I mean, I actually felt uplifted by that smile.
“Someone is happy today,” I stopped to say.
“What’s not to be happy about?” she shrugged her shoulders in response. “The sun is shining, it’s a beautiful morning, and I have a delicious cup of coffee. Plus, last night I was at a concert, and the lead singer sang right to me. Life’s wonderful.”
I have to admit that I was impressed and intrigued, and wondering if I could have some of whatever what was in her coffee.
“Are you always so cheerful?” I asked.
“Yep,” she said, “for the most part at least. It doesn’t take that much to make me happy.”
Now she really had my attention.
“Don’t you ever encounter problems or get in a bad mood?” I asked. This made her laugh.
“Of course I do,” she said. “I just know that bad moods are a choice, and problems are sort of relative. I try to look at a problem as something I need to learn. If I do learn from it, then it isn’t a problem. It’s a gift.”
She took a sip of her evidently delicious coffee and then continued, “Like this morning, I couldn’t start my car. Sure, I was getting frustrated. I mean, I just bought it last week! It’s brand-new, and I was late for work. Anyway, the good news in all this is that my neighbor noticed I was having difficulty and offered to give me a ride to work.”
She beamed that radiant smile of hers again. “You know,” she went on, “in the two years I’ve lived next door to her, I’ve known nothing about her. I mean, she’s my neighbor, for crying out loud! On our way to work, we had a wonderful conversation, and we’re going out for dinner tonight. So yes, my new car wouldn’t start, but I believe because of that, I have a new friend. I choose to focus on that. That’s the gift within the problem.”
If we could all see our problems and mishaps at work and at home from the viewpoint of the young woman with the radiant smile, life would be much easier, wouldn’t it?
She is living proof that it all comes down to choices. Rather than dwell on negativity, you can choose to focus on what is working in your life, to be grateful for what you have and to use your time and energy finding solutions to your problems.