Two women, two very different attitudes. Two stories that show how our mindsets determine our happiness.

Caroline

Carol is 29. She was born in a small town and has a sister, Mel, two years younger than her. By the age of 9, both their parents died leaving them orphans. While it was an aunt of them who got their custody on paper, it was a couple of neighbours that took actual care of them. They would go to the neighbours for their meals and to sleep at night.

When the sisters grew up, they learnt that their aunt has been making use of what their parents had left them as inheritance. They had been robbed for years.

The sisters grew up apart. Mel was diagnosed with an unusual deformative illness and decided to study medicine at university with the intention to “cure herself”. Carol moved to another city and started working with small kids. In 2010, she was hit badly by a car while driving her motorcycle. She was hospitalized and her situation was severe since she has damaged her head. She recovered after two months but you can still see the consequences of the accident in her face – the left side got paralyzed.

She met a guy, whose reputation was questionable, and they became parents of beautiful twins. Soon afterwards, he left her.

Yet with all this background at the age of 29, Carol never lost her joy and smile, and is one of the most grateful persons you can possibly meet. She always expresses her gratitude to life, to those neighbours, to the doctor that treated her during her hospitalization, and to everyone that has supported her during her life.

Carol always looks on the bright side. Against all odds, she is a happy person.

Martha

Martha is 60 but looks 75. She has worked very hard during her life to make ends meet. She has been married to the same man for over 30 years and they have two daughters and a grandchild. When I first met her, she had a sad expression in her face and I thought something bad may have just happened to her. But three years passed and she still had that kind of beaten, defeated attitude as if it was her uniform. She once told me that her husband had always had “many women” in his life, that he had been the greatest source of her unhappiness.

Two years ago, her husband had a stroke. While the doctors doubted he could have a good recovery, he made terrific progress and six months later he was walking again with the help of a stick. To this day, the right side of his body is still weak and needs some help with everyday stuff, like having his food cut, but he is much better than it was thought he could be.

Pretty much every time I would talk to Martha, she would complain about a new health problem: if it wasn’t her thyroids, it was her vision; if it wasn’t her lack of sleep, it was a bruise she got after falling in the street. She would even show me a thorn in her finger that got stuck after doing some gardening as if it was a serious thing. She’s had her problems, clearly, but she has been very effective at making self-pity part of her life too.

Both good and bad things have happened to Martha, yet Martha seems to only see the negative. As if by law of attraction, she kept encountering problems and obstacles to her happiness.

What’s your attitude towards life? Are you a Caroline or a Martha?

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