Her letter was long. Page after page she went on about every aspect of her miserable life.
In between the accounts of her husband's unemployment and her high blood pressure, this woman managed to weave each and every detail of their broken down cars, leaking roof, busted faucets, ungrateful children, delinquent taxes, nosy neighbors, empty retirement account, and unpaid bills. I'm telling you, by the time I reached the word that for me spelled relief (sincerely), I was nearly worn out.
My immediate reaction was a sympathetic, "Oh, you poor thing!" I mean, really, the way she carried on, I was nearly convinced she was enduring troubles and pressures way beyond the legal limit. Her situation, as she described it, did appear to be without solution.
I couldn't help but wonder how things would be if she won the lottery, which according to her hastily written postscript was her only source of hope. That would certainly let me off the hook because the point of her letter was for me to fix her, her family --her life. She was looking for a fairy godmother, complete with wand, who would magically return everything to normal, whatever that is. I've read about fairy godmothers, and I can assure you, I'm no fairy godmother.
Some people allow their problems and pressures to control their lives. Whether they live under their circumstances or above them has nothing to do with the troubles themselves but how they view them.
Those who live under their circumstances see every calamity as a catastrophe. They choose to be victims; they whine, complain and carry on.
Those who live above their circumstances are not in denial. They simply choose to see these times as hairpin curves on the road of life that will straighten out soon.
While you live and breathe on planet Earth, you will experience troubles and pressures from time to time and in varying degrees. It doesn't matter how wealthy, educated, noble or good you are. Life cannot be separated from periods of adversity. Here are some basic steps to help you gain control of your circumstances:
CHOOSE YOUR ATTITUDE. One thing that distinguishes you from the animal kingdom is your ability to control your attitude. You choose your thoughts, so for today choose joy.
SMILE ON PURPOSE. Regardless of how you are feeling, greet the next person you see (even if it is a family member) with a smile and sincere pleasantry such as, "Isn't this a wonderful day?"
DON'T DWELL ON PROBLEMS. Refuse to worry unless you have a pencil and paper in front of you. With those tools in hand your worrying automatically becomes a planning session. Write down creative and positive ideas.
DON'T BE FOOLED BY DISGUISES. Your troubles are brilliant opportunities disguised as impossible situations. Those who recognize this truth are experts at turning lemons into lemonade.
What you can do matters much more than what you can't. Focus on getting through the mess or if it's not going away, find a way to joyfully persevere. Your greatness will never be measured by wealth or position but by what it takes to make you quit. That's why you must never ever give up -- no matter what.
Mary invites questions at firstname.lastname@example.org, or c/o Everyday Cheapskate, P.O. Box 2099, Cypress, CA 90630.