A Tale of Three Boys

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It is easy to encourage people to be positive when everything is going well .The problem in staying positive and finding the energy or motivation to remain so is when things are tough. When life flings one of its curve balls at you and when everything and even everyone seems to be plotting to bring you down how can you be positive? The answer really is to consider what benefit is there to being positive or not? By giving in or succumbing to negative, upsetting or scary events it only makes them have an even bigger negative impact upon life and spirals people even further downwards making the climb back up even harder but climb back up is exactly what most people do, so stopping the descent before the bottom is hit will obviously give a quicker recovery. How to do this though depends upon having the right attitude.

Khalil Gibran a Lebanese artist, poet, and writer sums it up nicely in this quote:

“Your living is determined not so much by what  life brings to you as by the attitude you bring to life; not so much by what happens to you as by the way your mind looks at what happens.”

No matter how much we want to be able to few of us go through life without some painful experiences. It is how we deal with these that determine what quality of life we have.

I was born in Glasgow and brought up in Clydebank. It is an industrial town on the banks of the river and was almost totally destroyed during WW11 by the Luftwaffe targeting the ammunitions factory there and the shipyards. Few houses were left standing after the attacks but the people were tough and instead of moving away pulled together to rebuild their lives. People took an interest in their neighbours and it was known that you had to behave when out and about or not just your mother would tell you off !

I started at the local High School when I was eleven. It was a mixed comprehensive school where people from all backgrounds and abilities were taught. The school had an amazing rector and support head staff that made it their business to know every pupils name, which was not easy as the school was large. Every year there were 6 intake classes of about 30 pupils in each and we were all put into houses to encourage team work. As I progressed through the school years I got to know three boys through various subjects taken. These boys were the same age as me but from very different backgrounds.

Two had alcoholic parents and abusive fathers and one had only his Dad, as his Mum had died when he was born. Their attitudes to their circumstances varied hugely. One was determined never to be the same as his parents, both alcoholics and worked hard to get an apprenticeship and get on with life. No matter what set back he encountered he was determined to be positive and keep moving forward. Not only was he determined to change his own life for the positive but took on full responsibility for his four younger siblings too. He worked two jobs, learned how to cook basic meals and studied hard at school. People saw how determined he was to make a difference in his family’s life and helped him as much as they could but he didn’t just take help he also had time to give it too. He took me and a friend from class hiking in the local hills and brought a frying pan, eggs and rolls and a small camping stove for an impromptu picnic to help us de- stress. We had nothing but exam worries, nothing compared to the stress he coped with on a daily basis yet he was helping us to learn how to cope and develop a positive attitude. Something I have never forgotten. His attitude is summed up nicely by Wade Boggs an American former professional baseball third baseman:

“A positive attitude causes a chain reaction of positive thoughts, events and outcomes. It is a catalyst and it sparks extraordinary results”.

The other boy with alcoholic parents’ skipped school , began drinking at an early age and frequently got in to trouble. We all tried
to be supportive and help him find his way. People cooked for him, went in to clean up after his parents and did everything they could to help him change his life circumstances. It quickly became very hard to maintain this level of support and people soon gave up as he was not at all prepared to make any effort himself. He was not happy at people interfering and felt judged. Quickly he became a victim of life and perhaps because he had given up caring about himself, he cared little for others in return. The other boy ,in similar circumstances persevered with him trying to show him how to help himself but he was angry and resentful and felt that the first was not having to deal with as much, did not understand and he rejected every bit of help and advice. This is no fairy story he ended up in and out of prison and drifted from one relationship to another, no happy ending. He had the attitude that because bad things had happened to him he could behave how he wanted and take what he wanted.

As Thomas Jefferson said:   “ Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.”

The third boy was going down the same path. He was regularly getting in to trouble. Was skipping school and hanging with the wrong crowd. His poor father was beside himself and didn’t know how to cope. This boy however had a wonderful artistic talent and could draw the most beautiful pictures. One of the Art teachers forged a strong bond with him and she offered him a deal. She would stay on after school and give up her free time to work on his drawing and painting but he had to work at his other subjects, stay out of trouble and have regular school attendance. He then had a choice and he made the right one .He began to attend school, worked hard and stayed out of trouble. She held up her end of the bargain and stayed on to help him. Eventually he went on to the prestigious Glasgow School of Art. How different his life could have been had he not recognised and grasped an opportunity when it was given.

That is the trouble with allowing life to pull you down it becomes much harder to see the opportunities to become stronger again and rise back up to a happier and more fulfilled you.

All three boys faced similar disabling life circumstances and events. All three initially received the same support but only two out of the three went on to achieve a happier, better life than the one they had been given at the start. The first has gone on to marry his childhood sweetheart, have three wonderful children and has a life full of happiness and love. I am sure they have faced problems, who doesn’t but they had a solid positive attitude to help them cope, survive then thrive.

The second I lost touch with but from what I hear from others still living near to him his children are suffering the same childhood he lived through.

The third graduated and moved abroad. I am told he is happy and has a thriving art business

I learned from them different things and each impacted my life in a positive way.

They showed me how a difference in attitude can have such a huge impact on your life and the life of those around you. It depends what you want from life but to me it shows clearly that a determination to work through problems, give and be open to receiving and maintain a positive attitude is the secret to being happy but nothing is achieved without effort. A small positive thought each day, even if you have to remind yourself or force yourself initially to find it goes a long way to changing your attitude and taking you forward in a positive direction.

I love quotes as I am so often inspired by peoples shared thoughts .This sharing I find very motivational and for that reason I would like to end with one. It is by Brian Tracy a motivational speaker and author from Canada who says:

You cannot control what happens to you, but you can control your attitude toward what happens to you, and in that, you will be mastering change rather than allowing it to master you.”

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3 thoughts on “A Tale of Three Boys

  1. A very good story…as usual! It is very hard to be positive when “negative vibes” are all around you. But we must try to remain positive…making that a goal at the start of each day. Hopefully it becomes habit in time.

    Take care,
    Scoop

    • Thanks for looking in. I think it is
      just a habit and well worth persevering with especially with all the negativity around. It is all about choice and attitude. At least that is what I tell myself. 🙂

      • All the experts agree with you. It is hard for many to be happy and positive, but with determination and resolve, we can swing our bad attitudes around!

        Take care,
        Scoop

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