Tuesday, March 8, 2016

New Year State of Mind

This coming year is going to be great. I can’t see it any other way.

My 10-year-old son thinks I should expect the worst and then I’ll have it great. He says if I expect a great year, then I’m really setting myself up for a bad year.

I’m not easily manipulated, and no kid who’s lived just 10 years of life is going to change my outlook after living almost 40 years of life. No, I’ll remain positive if I want positive results.

There was, however, that one New Year’s I expected great things for the coming year. What followed was the worst year of my existence. Then there was the New Year’s I had only bad things to say about the coming year. That turned out bad, too.

“Those weren’t bad years,” my wife said. “You just go negative so fast.”

“I don’t go negative so fast,” I told her. “I’m positive about things all the time. Let’s see, when was the last time I was positive about something? Come to think of it, when was the last time something positive happened?”

“See?” she said.

“I’m joking. I realize I’m a very fortunate person.”

When I recall the fortunate events in my life, I remember having no expectations beforehand.

“That’s it!” I said. “I’ll simply let 2014 bring whatever it’s going to bring, and then this year will be great. So the plan is not to plan, and it’d all turn out well.

“Sounds like a plan to me,” my son said.

Regardless of his remarks, my lack of a plan this year is already working. Yesterday I was offered a book deal, and on Father’s Day a publisher plans to release a collection of stories from this column. I have high hopes.

“Careful, Daddy,” my son warned. “If you expect too much good, you might spoil it. If you just expect the worst instead, then it’ll turn out well.”

“That’s a terrible idea,” I replied, “and a wonderful way to sabotage the book deal. There’s a guy named Napoleon Hill who says you have to think and grow rich. If he were still alive, he’d tell you your way is a set-up for failure. You have to think positively and good things will follow.”

“But I thought you said you were just going to let 2014 be, that you weren’t going to have any expectations.”

I’m not that easily manipulated, and no 10-year-old is going to convince me that I keep switching my standpoints.

There was, however, the Christmas shopping experience I had with my boy last month. I began with no expectations for how shopping would go. Right away, some presents I bought a week earlier went on sale.

I asked for a price adjustment. The people at the front desk said I needed my receipt. I went home and went through all my Christmas gift receipts. The one I needed was gone.

I got back in the car with the gifts and tried to return them at the old price and repurchase them at the new, discounted price. The people at the front desk said, no problem. One problem: I needed the debit card I used to make the initial purchase. The debit card was at home with my wife.

So I got back in the car, went back home, got back to digging through the mess that was previously my living room before I destroyed it looking for my receipt, and my wife was nowhere to be found. I called her and discovered she was at the mall doing her own shopping.

So I got back in the car yet again, met my wife at the mall, got the card, and then I was off to the store and back at the front desk for the price adjustment. It was no hassle at all.

“What a hassle,” my wife said when I told her what I went through.

“See, Daddy,” my son pointed out after recalling the recent incident, “bad things had to happen before it got good.”

“But that wasn’t your point,” I replied. “You said I had to expect bad things before great things can happen. I didn’t expect anything when I was dealing with that price adjustment. I was simply working the problem like Tom Hanks and Ed Harris did in ‘Apollo 13.’”

“What about in the car when you said, ‘This night is never gonna end’ and ‘We’re making all these trips and we won’t even get the discount’ and all your other negative expectations while you were ‘working the problem?’”

I have to admit -- I’m easily manipulated. My 10-year-old convinced me that he was right. I was, in fact, expecting bad things to happen, and only by doing so was I actually more able and more committed to make it all good.

My wife was also right about how I go negative so fast. At the first bump in the road on the way to that price adjustment, I knew I was going to fail.

So in the end (or rather in the beginning of 2014), I’ll most likely start the year negative real fast, like my wife says I do, and because I’ll be expecting only bad things, I can ultimately expect great things.

Going back to what I originally stated -- this coming year is going to be great. I can’t see it any other way.

It all makes sense to me anyway.

-January 2014

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