My dad and I went out on his little fishing boat to the middle of the lake. I was about 12 years old. I noticed that he brought along a bag of M&M’s (my favorite), and a canning jar with a lid. We set up our fishing gear and sat waiting for the first bite of the day. My dad pulled the M&M’s from his pocket. I was excited, because I knew he would share them with me. Suddenly he handed me the empty canning jar. I had no idea what I was suppose to do with it. And then it started…
Dad: “Have you ever had a good day?”
Me: “Sure. I have.”
Dad: “Did you have one recently?”
Dad: “Well then, put one of these M&M’s in the jar.”
I unscrewed the ring, took off the lid, placed one M&M in the jar and replaced the lid.
Dad: “Have you ever had a bad day?”
Me: “Of course.”
Dad: “Well then, throw an M&M in the lake.”
Me: “What?.. But, I love M&M’s.”
Dad: “I know, just throw it in the lake.”
So, reluctantly, I threw it in the lake. Didn’t make much sense to me, but I did it anyway.
Dad: “Have you ever said anything nasty to one of your friends?”
Dad: “Throw another M&M in the lake.”
Me: “This is ridiculous, why are we doing this?”
Dad: “Just throw one in the lake.”
This went on and on for quite a while. I started to complain because each time I got to put an M&M in the jar, I had to unscrew the ring, remove the cap, place the M&M and redo the cap & ring.
Me: “I think I’ll just leave the cap and ring off…it will be easier.”
Dad: “Nope, just do it the way we have been doing it.”
After some time, I realized I only had about 10 M&M’s in my jar, and the rest went into the lake. I didn’t hesitate when I voiced my disgust at “wasting” all those precious M&M’s.
Dad: “Well, you realize that all your negativity went into the lake. You have lost your opportunity to enjoy those M&M’s; you will never get them back! On the other hand, all the positive things you said and done allowed the M&M’s to go into the jar to be enjoyed at a later time. I noticed your frustration in having to unscrew the ring and remove the cap each time, just shows that a little effort is involved to do something positive. Now, make up your mind what kind of life you want to lead. Make a little effort and your jar could be filled with M&M’s.”
Believe it or not, I still have that canning jar on my desk! They are not always full of M&M’s, but the memory and life lesson will always be with me. My dad was a really smart man.
Carrie Woger MLN Consulting, LLC
Pat Iyer’s comment: Keep this story in mind when you are tempted to complain. Keep this story in mind when you are exposed to negativity. Do you put positive thoughts in your mind? Or are you bombarded with negativity in the form of headlines about distressing events, trends, and facts? Are you feeding yourself positive thoughts? Do you “relax” with the news, or do you come away with a whole new set of things to worry about? Spend time each day developing your mind, learning something new, or relaxing with a positive book. Just as “you are what you eat”, you are what you think and the influences you expose yourself to.
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