By Scott Westerman
“Happiness is a choice we make”

What can a Las Vegas cabbie and a TSA employee teach us about life?

It was 3AM. I was running on the kinetic energy that seems to keep me in high gear for hours after a productive presentation. Time to head to the airport. The cabbie must have been pretty close to my age. I’m always fascinated how people view the world and cabbies aren’t afraid to tell you.

“There are over 100,000 people unemployed out here,” he said. “We’ve lost a billion dollars in gaming revenue to China and it feels like this place is filled with 20 somethings from LA who come up here to get drunk and throw up. We overbuilt in this town and don’t cater to families anymore. It’s going to take six years for us to recover, if we can do it at all.”

The intensity of his words stunned me. “Why don’t you leave and work someplace else?”

“Things are tough all over,” he said.

He was definitely demoralized.

McCarran is one of the few airports where the TSA is on duty 24 hours a day. I was their only customer so I asked my world view question to the woman who was checking IDs.

“I love it here,” was her response. “I grew up in Hawaii and as beautiful as that place was, I felt my future was calling me. And I found it!”

“Why did you find it here,” I asked ?

She scribbled her initials on my boarding pass, looked me in the eye and smiled. “I decided to.”

Two individuals living in the same town, who interface with the same people and probably earn about the same amount of money each year.

Why were their attitudes so different?

Philosopher Clifton Burke nails it, “What you are doing is not nearly as important as how you feel about what you are doing.” The simple truth that eludes most of us is this: We choose how we feel.

Lets face it. We’re riding a rough patch. A lot of the paradigms that were the foundations of our comfort zones have been knocked out from under us. Perhaps that’s amplified for you by an insensitive boss, uncertainty about your future, a my-way or the highway professor, or an unpleasant relationship. On top of it all, TV news ratings soar when there is bad news to report, so we’re constantly bombarded with the dark side of humanity, now in High Definition.

How can we control our morale when it feels like everyone else has lost theirs?

1) Be Grateful – No matter what your situation, you are richly blessed. Think about what those blessings are. Make a list and keep it handy for the bad days. During my growing pains as a young executive I would stand over my infant daughter’s crib after she was sound asleep and ponder the miracle that brought her to me. Shelby was one of the blessings that sustained me when things didn’t go well. I still think about that, even as she has become that young executive who is probably worrying about a lot of the same things.

2) Keep the Faith – “Faith,” writes Voltaire, “consists in believing when it is beyond the power of reason to believe.” History is littered with examples of heroism and achievement that occurred worst possible situations because the protagonists kept the faith.  Faith in a positive outcome gives you strength when your intellectual self tells you there isn’t any strength left. Faith doesn’t mean staying in an unacceptable environment. It means believing that your perseverance in seeking happiness will ultimately be rewarded. Have faith that you will discover and do the right things to take you to the right place. And you will get there.

3) Circle Your Friends – There is no stronger force than a group of like minded people, who care deeply about one another, working toward the same goal.  You may not work in the same department or even for the same company but you can work together to build and maintain a productive, positive attitude. Build your own Secret Support Society and meet regularly to seek ways to help one another and to help make the world better.

4) Take Action – All obstacles become temporary when you engage to overcome them. Take small steps in the direction of your dreams every day. Realize that some days it may be “two steps forward, one step backward”. But the simple fact that you are taking a step will make all the difference. As Goethe said, “The moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too.”

5) Decide to be Happy – Dr. Wayne Dyer’s maxim that “Our intention creates our reality,” is the secret. Happiness and discontent are both conscious states of mind. And as long as you’re conscious, you can choose the state where you want to live. Choose happiness and you will manifest it, and attract it. Attitudes are reflected right back at you. As they say at the conclusion of the Abbey Road album, “ the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.”

Here’s a caveat. Don’t confuse low morale with depression. If you think you may be depressed, talk with someone about it. You’re not alone. Getting help when you need it is also a choice that only you can make.

Morale is really all about perspective. Perspective creates perception. Perception creates reality. Only You can decide how you will view the world in which you live. You can choose victimhood and let circumstance suck the energy out of you. Or  you take charge of your power and focus it on the future you expect to create. In either case, you will surely reap what you sow.

The choice is yours.