Excerpt: 'Chicken Soup for the Soul: Think Positive,' Foreword by Deborah Norville


Got a dream you want to pursue but afraid to give it a shot? Just do it. When unemployment hit both her and her husband, Debbie Acklin was terrified to start a new business but circumstance had backed her into a corner. Starting from scratch, she made up flyers advertising computer training, rented out a space, and fielded enough clients to launch a successful new business. Her example has me strategizing how I can extend my own fledgling yarn business into something more.

Health issues are something every family must confront but it's not always easy to see the blessing in such unfair adversity. My cousin Dan has fought a long, painful and incredibly brave battle against multiple sclerosis. His repeated hospitalizations have cheated him of many of the experiences a young man in his twenties should get to enjoy, but it hasn't robbed him of his ability to make a positive difference in the lives of others. His most recent hospital stay was a tough one, prompting friends, many of whom now live far away, to visit and share reminiscences of Danny's impact on their lives. The mom of one friend recalled how even during sleepovers, Danny would always say his prayers before going to bed. What a blessing for his family to know their son's sheer "goodness" was apparent to all. The chapter "Health Challenges" is filled with similar stories in which unforeseen medical misfortunes changed lives but also offered opportunities. People like Shawn Decker, a hemophiliac who contracted HIV from a childhood blood transfusion. Instead of turning bitter, Shawn is upbeat and grateful for life. Now a leader in the HIV community, he's coined the term "positoid" for people in his situation.

Sometimes the magic is in the moment. Surveys show nine out of ten of us say we are "extremely pressed" for time (and the other ten percent were too busy to talk to the pollster, I bet!) The stories in the "Every Day Is Special" chapter remind us that sometimes there's nothing better than an average mundane day. Elaine Bridge used to treat herself to a special coffee on Fridays and always had an upbeat attitude on those days. Then she realized she could have that fancy coffee and that positive attitude any day of the week. Why not make every day a special day?

Heather Gallegos had gone to the local track a bit reluctantly for her morning run when she was confronted with an incident that underscored how an ordinary day can turn out to be anything but. When a man collapsed on the track in front of her, she administered CPR compressions for eleven minutes until paramedics arrived. As she put it, it was "Enough time to save his life. Enough time to change mine."

They say God never gives you more than you can handle, but you have to marvel at the strength and resilience of the people who share their stories in the chapters called "Role Models" and "Overcoming Adversity." Are you living the life you were meant to live or does something feel "not quite right?" Shannon Kaiser was a young woman who seemed to have it all -- except she didn't feel that way. In the "Moving Forward" chapter she describes how she dissected every aspect of her life and really honed in on what she felt would give her life the meaning it lacked. You'll be stunned at just how incredibly fate intervened and helped her reach her goals.

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