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Today is Anzac Day in Australia.

It’s a significant day on our calendar as it commemorates the remarkable contribution that our servicemen and women have made to the freedom that we experience in this great country.

Since the original Anzac Day in 1915, when soldiers from Australia and New Zealand stormed the beaches of Gallipoli in Turkey, we have been blessed by thousands of heroic men and women who have given their lives or been severely injured as they served their country.

I recently came across the story of Private Liam Haven, a remarkable young man who served in East Timor and Iraq.

Returning from a routine patrol in 2008, he was hit by shrapnel from an improvised explosive device.  At first, he thought that he was fine and had dust and sweat in his eyes.

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Have you ever had a great day ruined by one bad experience?

Or a bad day saved by a positive moment?

You would think that logically a bad moment plus a good moment would equal a neutral experience, but it rarely seems to work like that.

It’s as though mixing black with white doesn’t equal grey, but it either becomes totally black or completely white, depending on our perspective and focus.

So how does it work for you?

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I met a young man a few days ago who had an excuse for everything.  Life was hard, he had health problems, he felt under pressure and the future was grim.

He was a genuine, card-carrying pessimist.

There are others I know for whom the sun is always shining, the world is full of boundless opportunity and nothing can wipe the smiles from their faces.

They are bone fide optimists.

I spoke to another man recently who started our conversation feeling trapped, but through the course of the interaction started to see opportunities to take action that had the potential to create a better future for him and his family.

He started pessimistically and after an hour, was a lot more optimistic.

But which one is right.

Is the world really that diabolical?

Is it really that great?

Can it really be bad and then after an hour be better?

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I’m sure that you’ve heard of Murphy’s Law.

If anything can go wrong, it will.

And then there are a few other laws that have been added to the list over the years.  Statements like:

If there is a possibility of several things going wrong, the one that will cause the most damage will be the one to go wrong.

If there is a worse time for something to go wrong, it will happen then.

If you perceive that there are four possible ways in which a procedure can go wrong, and circumvent these, then a fifth way, unprepared for, will promptly develop.

If everything seems to be going well, you have obviously overlooked something.

Of course, we laugh at these statements.

But we also too often live by them.

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Lately, I’ve found myself saying, “I’m tired” a lot.

On the surface, it seems like a reasonable statement to make.  After all, I have three young, energetic kids, a full-time job, a part-time business and this blog that takes up a lot of my time.

But every time I say, “I’m tired” something happens.

My shoulders slump a little bit and my energy levels seem to drop.

“I’m tired.”

All of a sudden I have an excuse not to do my best work.

“I’m tired.”

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Sometimes, I come across pretend optimists.

They seem to say all of the right things.

“Life’s good.”

“Next year is going to be better.”

“I’m alright.”

“I can do this.”

But something gives them away.

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Sometimes, I look back on my upbringing with great fondness.

Great mates, fun adventures and life-changing experiences that contributed significantly to who I am today.

It was a time when I could jump and run without risking muscle strains and when there was very little to worry about or be responsible for.

It’s easy for me to consider these to be the glory days.

But the glory days aren’t in the past.

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Photo by Mamboman1 via Flickr

A group of frogs were trav­el­ing through the woods, and two of them fell into a deep pit.

When the other frogs saw how deep the pit was, they told the two frogs that they were as good as dead.

The two frogs ignored the com­ments at first and tried to jump up out of the pit with all their might.

The other frogs kept telling them to give up, that they were as good as dead.

Finally, one of the frogs took heed to what the other frogs were say­ing and gave up.

He fell down and died.

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Photo by Matt Kadlick via Flickr

As I drove down my street the other day, I saw a tree stump.

We had a massive storm a few months ago and the tree was knocked down, leaving branches all over the street.

The City Council came in during the week and removed the branches.  They also sawed down the rest of the tree, leaving nothing but a small stump less than a foot high.

And that was it, the tree was finished.

Or so I thought.

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The other day, I received an excited call at work from my six-year old son, Hayden.

“I won a race at school Dad!”  he said.

“That’s great, mate,” I responded.

“Yep, the girls got a head start and I was behind a few boys, then I struggled with my brain and started to pass a few of them and went on to win.”

I couldn’t have been prouder.

Not because he won the race, but because he won the battle of the mind. Read the rest of this entry »

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