A customer came into the post office the other day to mail thank you cards to people who showed up to her 40th high school reunion. She had nothing to do with the planning of the event and stated quite simply, “I just wanted to thank them for showing up and being kind to me”. Not only do I think it is a marvelous idea to sit down and write people a proper thank you letter, but she said something that impressed me even more. She stated that everyone she met seems to have turned out so nice, but some people she spoke with after told her they had the opposite experience. Even though they talked to the same people. How could this be? How could two people go to the same event, talk to the same people, but have entirely different results? There are many factors I suppose, but it reminded me of a story I heard that I would like to share with you.
Two old gentleman were sitting outside of a local diner discussing how the neighborhood was changing and a lot of new people were moving in. Suddenly their conversation was interrupted by just one of those people. “Excuse me, but you look like you may have been a member of this neighborhood a while. What are the people like here?”. That was the question put forth to the old men. “Well what were the people like in the town you came from?” replied one old man. “Oh they were very nice. In fact, we were sad to leave, but my husband’s job had us relocate here” was the reply from the new neighbor. “Well there is no need to worry, I believe you will find the people just as pleasant down here” replied the old man. She thanked them and was off. Well in the middle of a heated debate as to the fate of the local college football team the old men were interrupted by another new neighbor asking the same question. Again the old man replied by asking what the people were like where the individual came from. “They were terrible. Never friendly, rarely said hi to us. That is why we moved here in hopes of finding a nicer group of people” replied the young man. “I’m sorry to tell you, but you wasted your time. I’m afraid you will find the people the same here” replied the old man. The new neighbor left shaking his head. Well now the other old man couldn’t help but ask how he could give two completely different answers to the same question and which one he believed was the right answer. “They both are.” he replied. “People will find just what they are looking for. It has to do with a great deal in how they see the situation.”
Now I like this story, and it brings up a good point. People often do find what they expect to find. Unfortunately there are people who have no expectations and wait for the world to dictate to them how the situation will be. Even worse, there are people who expect the worse in every situation. Have you ever heard someone say “Expect the worse and you will never be disappointed”? Not only is this a very dismal and cowardly way to go through life. Effectively saying you have no control over how things turn out, but it is also negating one of our greatest powers. If you enter a situation or even a day expecting it to be a good day, chances are you will have more good than bad happen. Even if some things do not go as planned, they are easier to take in stride and quite often may be part of a greater plan. If you approach ever day with anxiety and expecting the worse, you will quite often find yourself correct. There are a million reasons why this is so, and we shall discuss them another day. We must ask ourselves, what feels better expecting joy and experiencing the occasional disappointment or glumly expecting the worse and being occasionally pleasantly surprised? I can tell you the attitude I would rather bring to life. The important thing here to realize is we have the power to choose, or to leave it to chance.