How easy it is to be negative. We experience a little stress and Chicken Little wreaks havoc in our minds.

I was experiencing quite a bit of stress just prior to a trip I was planning last year. I wanted to go to Arizona to get some relief from a northern Minnesota winter, and as I made arrangements, I began to grow conscious of all that could go wrong—lost tickets and IDs, missed pickups, getting sick, not being able to go to sleep in a hotel. I even began contemplating just staying in Minnesota and suffering the cold and snow.

Luckily, I have a good therapist I like to bounce things off of. I went to see her a couple of weeks before I was slated to go and told her my concerns. I recall complaining about being stressed and pausing to see what her reaction would be. I expected her to be sympathetic.

“Well,” she said, “Maybe if something goes wrong, you can see it as an adventure rather than a complication.” It was a philosophical response and not as sympathetic as I was hoping.

My reaction was to be skeptical. “I want my trip to go as planned, and I fail to see anything good about losing my credit cards 2,000 miles from home.”

My therapist held her ground and said I had the power to reframe my perspective. I grudgingly acknowledged this, but not for a second did I think I could enjoy a mishap of any sort.

Life happened

At any rate, I did go on my vacation. And wouldn’t you know—life happened, and my friend and I had a mishap. After two nice days in Santa Fe, New Mexico, we tried catching a train to Flagstaff, Arizona. When we arrived at the train depot, we learned that the train was delayed by at least eight hours and was getting even more delayed as time went on. That meant we would not get to our hotel room until early morning—with no sleep and little time to recoup for a tour later on.

We were devastated. What were we going to do with eight-plus hours in a train depot out in the middle of the desert? Read? Walk around for hours? We felt it was a disaster and we complained bitterly to each other.

We moped around the depot for some time. Then, the clerk piped up and told us there was a nearby renovated caboose that was showing the Super Bowl on a large-screen TV, and that they were serving hot food.

We were skeptical that this was an adequate answer to our delay, but we went next door to the caboose anyway and, lo and behold, there were staff taking orders for venison chili, hamburgers, fruit-flavoured water and other goodies. And the TV at one end was showing football! We even met some interesting locals, including a native of Texas who had lots of stories and was fun to visit with.

So we watched the Super Bowl, something we wanted to do anyway, and passed our nine hours visiting with people, eating good food and generally having quite a good time of it. I can say with certainty that we had a better time due to the delay than we ever could have had going straight to Flagstaff.

In the end, my therapist was right. Changes in plans and itineraries can be adventurous. And even if that caboose had not been there, my friend and I could have kept an open mind about our situation and made the most of it.

In fact, keeping an adventurous stance in all of life’s many circumstances is what enables us to make the most of those circumstances.

Be adventurous.

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