Around twenty years ago I was living in Seattle and going through hard times. I could not find satisfying work and I found this especially difficult as I had a lot of experience and a Masters degree.
To my shame I was driving a school bus to make ends meet and living with friends. I had lost my apartment. I had been through five interviews with a company and one day between bus runs they called to say I did not get the job. I went to the bus barn a zombie of disappointment.
Later that afternoon, while doing my rounds through a quiet suburban neighborhood I had an inner wave – like a primal scream – arise from deep inside me and I thought “Why has my life become so hard?” “Give me a sign, I asked… a physical sign – not some inner voice type of thing.”
Immediately after this internal scream I pulled the bus over to drop off a little girl and as she passed she handed me an earring, saying I should keep it in case somebody claimed it. The earring was stamped metal, painted black and said ‘BE HAPPY.’
At first I got angry – yeah, yeah, I thought. Then it hit me. I had been putting all of my energies into what was wrong with my life rather than what was right! I decided then and there to make a list of 50 things per day I was grateful for.
At first it was hard, then it got easier. One day I decided to up it to 75. That night there was a phone call for me at my friend’s house from a lady who was a manager at a large hospital. About a year earlier I had submitted a syllabus to a community college to teach a course on stress management (Yup, you heard me 😉 ). She asked me if I would do a one-day seminar for 200 hospital workers. I said yes and got the job.
My day with the hospital workers went very well. I got a standing ovation and many more days of work. To this day I KNOW that it was because I changed my attitude to gratitude.
Incidentally, the day after I found the earring the girl asked me if anyone had claimed it. I told her no and she said “I guess it was meant for you then.” I spent the next year conducting training workshops in hospitals and businesses all around the Seattle area and then decided to risk everything and go back to Scotland where I had lived previously.
I closed my one man business, bought a plane ticket and got a six month visa from immigration. One month later I met my wonderful English wife and best friend of 15 years now. We live in a small beautiful cottage, two miles from a paved road in the highlands of Scotland.
‘THE ONLY ATTITUDE IS GRATITUDE’ has been my motto for years now and yes, it completely changed my life.