I’m surprised sometimes when people complain to me about how hard their lives are.

No, that’s not right — I’m not really surprised by complaints.

I think I mean to say I am surprised at how far I have come from being in the ranks of the complaining and the Miserable by Choice. Somewhere along the line, my conscious and cynically self-conscious attempts to change my own thinking succeeded. It’s certainly not 100%. I still have days filled with self-pity. But it’s no longer weeks and months of focused attention on the inequalities of the world as relates to me. Which is just as well — because I don’t have it so bad, and I know that.

I have a comfortable house, a reliable car, a job that pays my bills and is interesting. I have a family and friends. I have discretionary time and money to spend on creative pursuits. I’ve cultivated skills that keep me attractive to employers. Sure, I could have a bigger house, it would be nice to have a garage for the vehicles, it would be great if the websites paid for themselves — but all things considered, I have it pretty good. Realistically, the situation isn’t much different from when I chose to be miserable — other than being way better.

When I was in Richmond, I had the good fortune to have a coworker who lived the concept of “choosing happiness” to an embarrassing degree. He greeted everyone with a booming, “It’s all good!” He announced his arrival on the shuttle or in the cafeteria with “It’s all good!” He waved goodbye with “It’s all good!” His up-beat nature and tagline were legendary in the company. His picture was captioned in the company newsletter as Mr. “It’s All Good!.” The cynic in me still weakly argues that he had a naive outlook, but I think he knew what he was about.

Encountering “It’s All Good!” several times each workday has made the phrase into a personal touchstone. I can nudge my own spirits upward just thinking the phrase; if that doesn’t happen, at least I can lever myself into a less bleak point of view. Maybe it’s not perfect, maybe it’s not the barrel-bottom. Could it be good? Sure it could. In the end, it’s just a choice on how to view the world.

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