When I was awakened at 7:15 Sunday morning by the persistent ringing of the front doorbell I knew it could only be one of two things—something very good, or something very bad. I stumbled my way out in a haze and opened the door to find my stepson with fist poised, ready to pound again.
He grinned, waving a piece of paper in my face. I tried to focus on it, thinking it was a ticket of some kind, but since my epitaph will read, “ Wait, I don’t have my glasses” I was at a loss as to what it was. Then he pulled a wad of cash out of his pocket, laughing. At that point I realized he hadn’t been arrested, and something good had happened.
It turns out the piece of paper was a check. His friends had taken him out gambling the night before to celebrate his birthday. In the early hours of the morning, Taylor had won at a progressive table, and was suddenly forty-five thousand dollars happier. After press photos and interviews, he had come to us to share the news and celebrate.
Taylor, like so many people, has not had an easy time of it in the last couple of years. He is 26 years old with a wife and three year old son to support. As an auto mechanic, he worked at various shops, forced to change jobs as each shop succumbed to the weak economy. Finally in December of last year he took a leap of faith, opening his own shop. He opened it on a shoestring budget, with little funding, in a shaky economy, in the worst month of the year to open any business.
It hasn’t been as simple as he thought it would be. Actually, it’s much harder. He works seven days a week and will continue do so for the foreseeable future. Last month he was discouraged and ready to sell the business for whatever he could get. This month he has settled his start-up loan, and has a cushion to keep the business moving forward.
Now, I’m not condoning gambling. I don’t gamble-didn’t even buy a ticket for the mega-millions lottery. However, some people enjoy it, and sometimes, very rarely, it does pay off.
What I see when I look at Taylor’s situation is simply this. He hasn’t had an easy go of things, but he keeps pushing on, with vision of owning his own business to support his family. Although he would probably disagree with me, I think he has an almost unconscious optimism that his plan will work out, regardless of his daily struggles.
Ultimately, optimism is a very powerful tool. It helps to keep people motivated and satisfied with their lives. There have been countless studies regarding the effects of optimism on the human condition. Among other benefits, optimistic people seem happier than others-and with good reason. Sometimes, with the right attitude, and for no other particular reason, luck happens.
And that is something to celebrate.