It's all a matter of perspective.
I ruminated on that idea while traveling the last half of the way home from a quick weekend trip to Minneapolis.
Earlier on the trip home, visiting with son Drew, following the flow of traffic on Interstate 35, I had noticed that my fuel gauge said I had 110 miles left before a fill was needed. Then, 30 miles down the road, the fuel gauge still said 110 miles.
"Hmm, that seems odd. I better stop at the next exit and fill up to be sure."
My car suddenly lost powe. With cars zooming by, I edged over, off the road, and hit the hazard lights.
We were a half mile from the nearest gas station, and son Drew quickly volunteered to hike there, buy a gas tank and a couple of gallons of fuel to get us to the station for a fill.
For about a half hour, I watched the sky darken with rain clouds, worried about my son, and stewed about the dangers possible in such a position.
Seeing my son come up over a rise, gas tank in hand, was a pretty great sight. We quickly filled up, headed down the exit ramp, and into the gas station as the first sprinkles hit the windshield.
By the time we left the station, a full tank of gas later, the sprinkles had turned into a downpour.
We weren't unlucky that we ran out of gas on a busy interstate. It didn't ruin an otherwise great weekend trip for my son and I.
We were blessed.
The rain held off. My son was my hero. We had a minor glitch.
It's a small issue but it does illustrate a pretty important life lesson.
It's funny how we have situations in life that have a chance to bring us down, make us angry, or bitter or sad. How we deal with them really does show how perspective can affect our lives.
In a Chicago Tribune article, research from a Harvard School of Public Health study was cited, linking a more optimistic outlook with a lowered risk of heart disease in older men, and a University of Pittsburgh report showed optimistic women have less thickening of the carotid artery walls. On the other hand, pessimism has links to negative affects on health.
"In 2000, Mayo Clinic researcher Toshihiko Maruta, M.D., published a 30-year study of 839 patients, indicating a pessimistic view was a risk factor for early death, with a 19 percent increase in the risk of mortality," says Ken Budd, executive editor, AARP The Magazine. "Even after adjusting for age and gender, pessimists had a higher mortality rate than those who tested as optimistic. The researchers found the way people explain life events -- with a positive outlook or a negative one -- directly related to their mortality."
A positive mental attitude encompasses the gamut of life's experiences.
"It's believing in good times during bad times," says Budd. "It's feeling grateful for what you have instead of lamenting what you lack. It's believing not simply that the positive outweighs the negative in life, but that we can create positive feelings and actions; that we have the power to make ourselves happy and content. "