One, you can swirl and twirl and gloom and doom forever, or two, you can grieve and then face the future with newly sober eyes.
Having a great attitude is about choosing option number two, and choosing, no matter how difficult it is, no matter what pain hits you, choosing to move forward and move on and take baby steps into the future.
The second “A” is Awareness.
I love hanging out with three year-olds. I love the way that they see the world, because they’re seeing the world for the first time. I love the way that they can stare at a bug crossing the sidewalk. I love the way that they’ll stare slack-jawed at their first baseball game with wide eyes and a mitt on their hand, soaking in the crack of the bat and the crunch of the peanuts and the smell of the hotdogs.
I love the way that they’ll spend hours picking dandelions in the backyard and putting them into a nice centerpiece for Thanksgiving dinner. I love the way that they see the world, because they’re seeing the world for the first time.
Having a sense of awareness is just about embracing your inner three year-old. Because you all used to be three years old. That three-year-old boy is still part of you. That three-year-old girl is still part of you. They’re in there.
And being aware is just about remembering that you saw everything you’ve seen for the first time once, too.
So there was a time when it was your first time ever hitting a string of green lights on the way home from work. There was the first time you walked by the open door of a bakery and smelt the bakery air, or the first time you pulled a 20-dollar bill out of your old jacket pocket and said, “Found money.”
The last “A” is Authenticity.
And for this one, I want to tell you a quick story. Let’s go all the way back to 1932 when, on a peanut farm in Georgia, a little baby boy named Roosevelt Grier was born.
Roosevelt Grier, or Rosey Grier, as people used to call him, grew up and grew into a 300-pound, six-foot-five linebacker in the NFL. He’s number 76 in the picture. Here he is pictured with the “fearsome foursome.” These were four guys on the L.A. Rams in the 1960s you did not want to go up against.
They were tough football players doing what they love, which was crushing skulls and separating shoulders on the football field.
But Rosey Grier also had another passion. In his deeply authentic self, he also loved needlepoint. He loved knitting. He said that it calmed him down, it relaxed him, it took away his fear of flying and helped him meet chicks. That’s what he said.
I mean, he loved it so much that, after he retired from the NFL, he started joining clubs. And he even put out a book called “Rosey Grier’s Needlepoint for Men.” It’s a great cover.
If you notice, he’s actually needlepointing his own face. And so what I love about this story is that Rosey Grier is just such an authentic person, and that’s what authenticity is all about. It’s just about being you and being cool with that.
And I think when you’re authentic, you end up following your heart, and you put yourself in places and situations and in conversations that you love and that you enjoy.
You meet people that you like talking to. You go places you’ve dreamt about. And you end up following your heart and feeling very fulfilled.
So those are the three A’s.
For the closing thought, I want to take you all the way back to my parents coming to Canada. I don’t know what it would feel like coming to a new country when you’re in your mid-20s. I don’t know, because I never did it, but I would imagine that it would take a great attitude.
I would imagine that you’d have to be pretty aware of your surroundings and appreciating the small wonders that you’re starting to see in your new world.
And I think you’d have to be really authentic, you’d have to be really true to yourself in order to get through what you’re being exposed to.
I’d like to pause my TEDTalk for about 10 seconds right now, because you don’t get many opportunities in life to do something like this, and my parents are sitting in the front row. So I wanted to ask them to, if they don’t mind, stand up. And I just wanted to say thank you to you guys.
When I was growing up, my dad used to love telling the story of his first day in Canada. And it’s a great story, because what happened was he got off the plane at the Toronto airport, and he was welcomed by a non-profit group, which I’m sure someone in this room runs.