Last Updated:Friday - 09/24/2010
January 17, 2005
Remember, have a few chuckles today
Light One Candle
Many years ago, a friend told me about the vendor who sold him his coffee in the morning. My friend said as customers paid for their coffee, the vendor would thank them and say, "Laugh today."
At first my friend was startled by this, but for a long time didn't ask the vendor about it. Finally, he asked the vendor why he said, "Laugh today."
The vendor said that he had a teacher in grade school who told him that every day we have to remind ourselves to not take things so seriously and "laugh today."
He went on to say that after he left school he forgot that teacher's instruction until many years later. He had grown more and more successful in sales, earning a great income with lots of perks.
Then he had a major heart attack on a busy street in Chicago. As he was lying on the street being tended by the ambulance team, he heard someone in the crowd around him say "There's another one who should have enjoyed the day more."
Later on in the hospital, he recalled his teacher's admonition and that led him to taking inventory of his life. Sure he was making big money, but he saw little of his small children and virtually every friend he had was someone he did business with and who could do him some good.
He told my friend he realized in the hospital that he'd missed the chance to laugh every day and he wanted a life where he could do that. He talked to his wife about the sacrifices they would have to make if he quit his job and it turned out that she was overjoyed at his wanting to have a simpler life.
So he bought the coffee stand and, as he told my friend, each day he passed his "laugh today" lesson on to others.
When my friend first told me that story I remember thinking about the sacrifices the vendor made to achieve the simpler life. I thought about the loss of income, the things he and his family had to do without, but I'm not sure I gave a lot of thought to what he was gaining by all of this. My concern was more about the financial issues. Maybe that was a reflection of where my head and values were at that time.
I can't say what changed my perspective of this vendor - perhaps it's the aging process and the awareness of my own mortality. Yet I know that a number of years ago I started thinking differently about what he did with his life. I slowly came to the realization that in changing his life he ended up changing the lives of many others.
Think about how many lives that man affected. When I stop to get my coffee in the morning I inevitably think, "laugh today," because of the story my friend told me about his vendor. If other people who bought coffee from him years ago told their friends about "laugh today," the numbers he touched grew exponentially.
Now I've told you - and, who knows, the next time you buy coffee in the morning you may reflect on "laugh today" and it'll bring a smile to your face. See how one person can make a positive difference in the world.
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