I was flying back from Charlotte after delivering a seminar for a client, seated in the last row of the plane in an aisle seat.
When we landed, I stood up getting ready to get off the plane, and there was a young woman in the seat across the aisle in the same row asking me how far a terminal was where she had to get on her next flight.
As we started talking, she shared with me that she had had quite a journey getting just to Philadelphia, which was not her final destination: She had flown from Peru to Mexico, then from Mexico to Chicago, and had a flight from Chicago to Florida where she was supposed to meet up with her family.
But the flight was canceled and she spent a couple of hours in Chicago waiting for a new flight which would take her to Philadelphia via Charlotte and then down to Florida.
She was smiling as she told me this story, and I was amazed at her attitude. I said, “You must be exhausted! How are you in such a good mood?”
She said, “Well I only have this one flight left and in two hours I’ll be with my family in Florida!”
We continued to talk as we were waiting to deplane and she showed me this little toy llama that she had bought for her daughter at a gift shop and she was smiling while she showed me this cute little toy.
She said, It was only one dollar!” She was excited about the bargain and she asked me if I had ever been to Peru. She began to describe it — what a beautiful country it was — and she encouraged me to go.
And as we got off the plane our path through the concourse took us in the same direction and she began just sharing more details of her life and in each spot where I thought there may have been something negative she turned it into a positive.
She told me that her sister married an American and he chose not to learn Spanish (they spoke Spanish in her family). I said,” Oh, he really should learn Spanish.”
And she said, “No!” and laughed. “If he learned Spanish, he would know what we were saying when we talked to each other!”
By the time that we parted company as she went to her terminal and I went to the parking garage, I felt happier.
The interaction with her made me happier, I think, because she has mastered the three keys to the art of happiness.
First, she did not dwell on the past despite all of these trips these plane trips that she had already taken. She was just focused on the last leg of the journey — the last piece.
Second, she was delighted by small things and so she showed me this little toy llama and you could see she was just beaming thinking about not just the fact that it was just a dollar but that she was going to give it to her daughter and would make her daughter happy.
Finally, she knew how to share the things that made her happy; there was something infectious about this joy that she had about the everyday things in life.
We can choose to be happy in any situation, and I think that she had these different things covered in terms of how she clearly viewed and lived her life.
And I’m glad that she shared some of that with me because it definitely left me in a more positive mood than that moment right before we started talking.