When I was in my early twenties, my boyfriend, Bart, and I were driving on a freeway near downtown Atlanta when we got a flat tire. I immediately panicked—this was long before everyone had cell phones. I worried we would be stranded for hours, that I’d have to either walk alone and get help or stay alone with the car, that our whole day would be ruined by this car trouble.
As Bart pulled to the side of the road, I shared my numerous concerns. He looked questioningly at me and said, “I’m just going to change the tire—it will take a couple of minutes.” He changed the tire, and we were soon on our way.
This story illustrates an important principle: Some people find it easier to adopt a positive attitude than others, which influences how they respond to life’s setbacks. While I saw the flat tire as a major problem, my boyfriend saw it as a minor inconvenience. His more positive mindset kept him calm and allowed him to take appropriate action. My more pessimistic outlook simply led me to suffer and feel helpless.