The Thought for the Day – Chesty Puller

These poor bastards. They’ve got us right where we want them. We can shoot in every direction now. – Chesty Puller

Chesty Puller is the most decorated Marine in United States history. Six times he earned the nation’s second highest award for bravery, five Navy Crosses and one Distinguished Service Cross from the Army.  Revered by his men, Puller was as firm as he was fair. Puller retired a Lieutenant General in 1955 after 37 years of honorable and expert service to his country.

Today’s Thought is our favorite example of optimism, a supreme example of turning something bad – being surrounded by people intent on killing you – into something good – the opportunity to fire wherever you want because you’re probably going to hit someone.

If Puller can find something positive out of being surrounded by the enemy, certainly we can find find something positive out of every day circumstances that don’t go right, circumstances that range from the inconvenient to the annoying to, perhaps, the tragic.

Here’s a good way to that:

First, be open to new things. Plan A often, perhaps even usually, doesn’t work out. Instead of decrying this, be open to the new circumstances awaiting you. With a positive attitude and a bit of ingenuity, it’s rare when what you end up with isn’t better than what you sought.  

Second, trust your instincts.  We talk a lot about this here at the Thought for the Day, usually preceded by the words “follow your heart”.

Our instincts are there for a reason: they are there to show us how to get to where we want to go and unless we are trying something completely out of our element, they are usually pretty trusty.

Third is expect good things to happen! The importance of this cannot be underestimated because to an extent that is astonishing, we usually get what we expect out of this life. Those with lousy attitudes usually have lousy lives because no one is going to accomplish anything of substance when they are grousing about this or that, whining about how others have it better or how someone has it in for them. When whatever they were wasting their time on fails they are the first to say they always knew it would happen, and they will carry this attitude with them to whatever they screw up next.  

On the other hand, those who attempt something – anything, really – with a positive attitude, with a deep-seated belief – usually claimed from past experiences – that, something good is going to happen, generally end up having something good happen. Those who dream big either get big results, or obtain every possible benefit from an experience, one of life’s great prizes. 

Finally, when something good isn’t in the cards, turn it over and make something good happen. There are few circumstances that cannot be turned to advantage.

Plans change? OK, change with them. With a good attitude and an open mind, there is no limit to what you can accomplish. Your first choice of college didn’t want you? Their loss. Go shine someplace you’re wanted. Your employer doesn’t pay that much? OK, identify a job that does pay what you want and put yourself in a position to get it. The examples are endless. Your first book didn’t sell? Go write another one. 

We may never find ourselves surrounded by the enemy, but we can always shoot in every direction. All we have to do is see the opportunities when they present themselves.

The Thought for the Day runs regularly. Quotes are from Gaylon’s personal quotebook – begun in 1988 – and all commentary is original.

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