It’s time for a quick story about life, gratitude, and
Once upon a time there was a woman in her mid-
sixties who noticed that she had lived her entire life
in the same small town. And although she had
spent decades enthusiastically dreaming about
traveling and seeing the world, she had never taken
a single step to make this dream a reality.
Finally, she woke up on the morning of her 65th
birthday and decided that now was the time! She
sold all of her possessions except for some essential
items she needed, packed these items into a
backpack, and began her journey out into the world.
The first several days on the road were amazing and
filled with awe—with every step forward she felt like
she was finally living the life she had dreamed.
But a few short weeks later, the days on the road
started taking a toll on her. She felt misplaced and
she missed the familiar comforts of her old life. As
her feet and legs grew more and more sore with
each new step, her mood also took a turn for the
Eventually she stopped walking, took off her
backpack, slammed it on the ground, and sat down
beside it as tears began streaming down her cheeks.
She stared hopelessly down a long winding road that
once led to an amazing world, but now seemed to
lead only to discomfort and unhappiness. “I have
nothing! I have nothing left in my life!” she shouted
out loud at the top of her lungs.
Coincidentally, a renowned guru and life adviser
from a nearby village was resting quietly behind a
pine tree adjacent to where the woman was sitting.
When the woman began shouting, the guru heard
every word and he felt it was his duty to help her.
Without thinking twice, he jumped out from behind
the pine tree, grabbed her backpack, and ran into the
forest that lined both sides of the road. Stunned and
in complete disbelief, the woman started crying even
harder than before, to the point of near
“That backpack was all I had,” she cried.” And now
it’s gone! Now everything is gone in my life!”
After about ten minutes of much-needed tears, the
woman gradually collected her emotions, stood up
again and began staggering slowly down the road.
Meanwhile the guru cut through the forest and
secretly placed the backpack in the middle of the
road just a short distance ahead of the woman.
When the woman’s teary eyes fell upon the
backpack, she almost couldn’t believe what she was
seeing—everything she thought she had just lost
was once again right in front of her. She couldn’t
help but smile from ear to ear. “Oh, thank heavens!”
the woman exclaimed. “I am so grateful! Now I
definitely have what I need to continue onward…”
As we journey through our personal and professional
lives, there will inevitably be periods of incredible
frustration and despair. During those tough times, it
will sometimes appear to us that we’ve lost
everything, and that nothing and nobody could
possibly motivate us to move onward in the
direction of our dreams. But just like the woman
who stumbled across the guru, we are all holding
with us a backpack of support that comes in many
forms—it can be a simple email or text message
from someone we respect, inspiring blog posts,
insightful books, helpful neighbors, supportive
communities , and so much more.
When the going gets tough—when we’re feeling
utterly down and discouraged—we need to
1. To trust the journey, even when we do not
2. To accept what is, let go of what was, and
have faith in the road ahead.
3. To start exactly where we are, use what we
have, and do what we can, one step at a time .
4. To look for the blessings hidden in every
struggle we face, and be willing to open our
hearts and minds to them.
5. To recognize our backpack of support—our
external sources of hope and motivation—
before a random guru (or someone with far
more crooked intentions) has to steal it from
us so that we can finally see what we have
always taken for granted.
6. To be present and tap into our own hearts and
minds—our internal sources of hope and
motivation—which have the power to push us
back up on our feet and guide us down the
road to our backpack of support, even when it
appears to be lost forever. (Note: Angel and I
cover this process in detail at our annual Think
Better, Live Better conference .)
7. To laugh at the confusion, live consciously in
the moment, and appreciate the lessons found
at each twist and turn.
8. To not compare our progress with that of
others, and accept that we all need our own
time to travel our own distance.
9. To see how many of the things we never
wanted or expected, ultimately turn out to be
what we need.
10. To be OK with not ending up exactly where we
intended to go, while opening ourselves up to
the possibility of eventually arriving precisely in
the right place at the right time.