Happy New Year Friend,

As we enter this new year, we all want to change our lives for the better. The question is, how? There are two ways you can change your life: (1) Change your conditions; and (2) Change your mind. Sometimes you can change your conditions. Always you can change your mind. Ultimately, mastering your mind yields far more success and reward than rearranging conditions. Perhaps you have heard about the fellow who was losing coins out of a hole in his pocket, so he went out and got a second job to replace the coins. He didn’t realize how much more helpful it would have been to simply sew the hole!

Recently I was in a car with several friends waiting to pay a toll at the Chicago airport. The line seemed to be moving rather slowly; I assumed the delay had something to do with security. When we finally arrived at the booth, we found a handsome Italian man with thick gray hair and sparkling eyes. As he handed us our change, he leaned over and enthusiastically sang us several verses of “La Traviata” – and he was really good! We thanked him, smiled, and went on our way with a little more color in our cheeks.

Many years ago my mentor told me, “Take whatcha got and make whatcha want.” If ever anyone has ever put this principle into action, it is that toll collector! He has taken a potentially dreary and chilly tollbooth and transformed it into an opera hall! I’m sure the people who pass through his booth are the happiest in that airport.

My friend Drake is a landscaper who had numerous small accounts. One day one of his customers, a wealthy man with a large estate, invited Drake to work on his property full time. “What is your dream of how good this job could be?” the owner asked Drake.

Drake told him he would have to think about it. He went home and wrote down all the aspects he could picture for his ideal job. A week later Drake revisited his notes and realized that what he had written did not represent his entire dream. So he expanded the salary, equipment, and working conditions. Several weeks later Drake came back to his written vision and realized it still wasn’t big enough. This process went on for three months, with Drake’s dream job continually expanding on paper. Finally he felt that what he had written was big enough to match what was in his heart and mind. He took the paper to his prospective employer and showed it to him. The fellow read the paper, thought for a moment, and answered, “Sounds good to me.” Now Drake is living his dream job. He took what he had and made what he wanted.

The key to taking what you have and making what you want is to reframe. Find a way to look at every experience so it empowers you. After the great Argentinean golfer Robert De Vincenzo won a tournament, he received his check and began walking to his car in the parking lot. There he was approached by a young woman who told him that her child was seriously ill, near death. She did not know how she could pay the doctor’s bills and hospital expenses. De Vincenzo was so touched by her story that he endorsed his winning check and pressed it into her hands with the loving wish, “Make some good days for the baby.” A few days later a golf official told him, “That woman you met in the parking lot is a phoney. She has no sick baby. She’s not even married. She fleeced you, my friend.” “You mean there is no baby who is dying?” asked De Vincenzo. “That’s right,” answered the official. “Well,” De Vincenzo responded, “That’s the best news I’ve heard all week.”

I wish you a new year of news that is good because you choose to find it, and a wish list that is so magnificent the universe has no choice but to fill it.

By Alan Cohen


  • Alan Cohen is the author of many popular inspirational books, including the best-selling Why Your Life Sucks and What You Can Do About It, the award-winning A Deep Breath of Life and his newest is the prosperity guide Relax into Wealth.

    Alan is an Empowering Caregivers featured expert, learn more about Alan

    Or visit his website at: alancohen.com.