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How was your latest car wash experience?

Did you take your car to a do-it-yourself car wash where you could ensure that every spot that needed to be cleaned was clean?Did you approach the car wash cautiously, checking your windows 2 and 3 times to ensure that they were firmly secure so that no water could come inside? Then carefully ease your car up to the marked line and then wait - feeling powers beyond your control begin to move your car forward and then feel trapped inside when the thunderous rush of water, soap and brushes hit your car from all directions? Or did you cheerfully approach the car wash, deposit your coins and gently guide your car into the tracks calmly and serenely.

Did you wonder if you were going to get stuck in the middle and be unable to get out? Did you wonder if the machinery would break down? Did you wonder if your windows Or did you sit back comfortably in your warm cocoon, knowing that you were in good hands and that the machinery was there simply to wash away the dirt and the grime to leave your car clean and ready to go again?

I was at my mom's a couple of weeks ago. Mom likes her car clean, but doesn't feel comfortable doing it on her own - well, she is over 80, so I guess that's why. As I was taking her car through the car wash, I thought about the various car wash experiences, and realized how this experience applies to our daily lives.

Some people see their lives as out of their control. They feel buffeted about by the trials and tribulations of life. They approach it with fear and trepidation, wondering what will hit them next. They are constantly looking around, waiting for the next blow.

Others see that they have set things in motion, that they are on the right track as they pass through life, and that the forces that buffet them are simply there to clean away the debris, leaving them refreshed and ready to carry on with a clean slate.

For those that like the do-it-yourself car wash, and I confess, I am one, our lives are probably much more controlled. We are not content to be on a pre-set track. We may be highly competitive. We may have to be number one. We may have to, as Frank Sinatra said "do it my way." Some of us may not be content to work for someone else, we have to be entrepreneurs so that we can guide our life in the way that we want it to be go. And we ensure that all the specks are removed, that there is nothing hindering us, that there is nothing in our way. It's all in how we perceive our life.

The same situation is often viewed very differently by people in each of these groups. That's why even "eye witness" accounts vary so much. Everyone has heard the question - is the glass half full or is it half empty? Do we look at what's missing - what we don't have, or do we consider the benefits and blessings we do have? Now my oldest son likes to say - "It depends on whether you are filling it up, or drinking it".

However, most of us would have a set response. For those who have the scary car wash experience, they may see the glass and their life as half empty and out of their control. For people who see the glass as half full, they probably have a good car wash experience. They are content, calm, ready to travel on with life.

The way we look at things changes how we feel about what goes on in our lives, and how we deal with things. When it comes to employment, some people have a perception that a person without a grade 12 education is not worth hiring, yet there are a number of very successful businessmen, some even millionaires, who have less than a grade 8 education, but more smarts than a university graduate.

In the job search - if you think you won't get a job, your body image changes and the employer's perception of you and your abilities may be affected by this. Try this: Let your shoulders hunch forward, hang your head a little and say "I feel great". It's almost impossible to feel great when your posture says I feel lousy. Next, take a deep breath, put your shoulders back, your head up, a smile on your face and say, "I feel great". This time when you say it, you'll mean it.

When you change the image, you also change the perception - both for yourself and the employer.Our perceptions of events are coloured by the way we think, by the way we perceive life. I know a woman who has a beautiful home, an expensive car, fairly expensive clothes and she owns a company. People perceive her as being very rich. What they don't know is that her house is heavily mortgaged and that she has extensive credit card debt, and the clothes that she is wearing are probably 15-20 years old, purchased at a time when she had a little more money. But it is difficult to change people's perceptions.

Someone else might be seen as incredibly poor, living in a tiny shack of a house, not driving the latest car, but that person may be very, very content with what they have. So, while others perceive them as being poor, they may see themselves as very, very rich.

Think about your perceptions. Are you full of hope? Or hopeless? Even the worst situations can have a positive side if we look for the silver lining. For those with a hopeless perspective, this is much more difficult as all they can see are the storm clouds. These people may need help to see that the sun always comes out eventually and that there is always another day, another chance to change things, to wash away the troubles of life.It's up to the hope full people to lead the way.

I challenge you to view life with a positive perspective. To look for the lesson in life's difficulties so that you can share what you've learned with others, so they too can survive and grow from their car wash experiences.

Fran Watson "Expert Author"

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