choose to be positive

At the beginning of my 8 a.m. class one Monday 
at University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV), 
I cheerfully asked my students how their 
weekend had been. One young man said that his 
weekend had not been very good. He’d had his 
wisdom teeth extracted. The young man then 
proceeded to ask me why I always seemed to be so cheerful. 

His question reminded me of something I'd read 
somewhere before: “Every morning when you get up, 
you have a choice about how you want to approach life 
that day.” I said to the young man. “I choose to be cheerful. 
Let me give you an example,” I continued. The other 60 
students in the class ceased their chatter and began to 
listen to our conversation. “In addition to teaching here at 
UNLV, I also teach out at the community college in 
Henderson, about 17 miles down the freeway from where I live. 
One day a few weeks ago I drove those 17 miles to Henderson. 
I exited the freeway and turned onto College Drive. I only had 
to drive another quarter-mile down the road to the college. 
But just then my car died. 

I tried to start it again, but the engine wouldn?t turn over. 
So I put my flashers on, grabbed my books, and marched 
down the road to the college. “As soon as I got there I 
called AAA and asked them to send a tow truck. 
The secretary in the Provost's office asked me what 
had happened. “This is my lucky day,” I replied, smiling. 
“Your car breaks down and today is your lucky day?” he was puzzled.

“What do you mean?” “I live seventeen miles from here.” 
I replied. “My car could have broken down anywhere 
along the freeway. It didn't. Instead, it broke down in the perfect place: 
off the freeway, within walking distance of here. 
I'm still able to teach my class, and I've been able to arrange 
for the tow truck to meet me after class. If my car was meant 
to break down today, it couldn't have been arranged in a 
more convenient fashion.” The secretary's eyes opened wide, 

and then he smiled. I smiled back and headed for class. 
So ended my story to the students in my economics class 
at UNLV. I scanned the sixty faces in the lecture hall. Despite 
the early hour, no one seemed to be asleep. Somehow, 
my story had touched them. Or maybe it wasn't the story at all. 
In fact, it had all started with a student's observation that I was 
cheerful. A wise man once said, “Who you are speaks louder 
to me than anything you can say.” I suppose it must be so.

 — Author Lee Ryan Miller Story from his book Teaching Amidst the Neon Palm Trees