Lessons from the NYC Subway

Most the time when I’m on the train I tune everything out. I opt for a moment of zen as I bury myself under headphones loudly playing chakra balancing music or one of my favorite radio show podcasts. Today was different though; today I sat reading a book fully aware of the sounds that occurred around me.



A homeless man got on the train and delivered a personal monologue on why his life ended up the way it had. He asked for help; he asked for exactly $5.75 that he would use for train fare to get to a place that allowed him to shower once a week. He walked the train asking for money getting no response from my fellow passengers. As he moved to the area where I was sitting he became openly frustrated that no one would help him. A woman standing in front of him finally responded and gave him $1, so I reached in my pocket and handed him $5. He looked me in the eyes and said a “thank you” that expressed both gratitude and surprise. I said, “you’re welcome” and returned to the pages of my book. A moment passed, a moment just long enough for single breath, then this same man began talking about how hard the world is and stated aloud that no one would give him a job or food. He ranted on until he exited the train at the next station.



After he left I sat a bit in awe and a bit confused. Here was a man who got on the train, asked strangers for what he needed, and then got it. In spite of this success, he didn’t find a moment of happiness or even breathe a sigh of relief. Instead all he could do was focus on negativity and everything that was wrong in his life. I knew then that even if this man had all the riches and comforts his mind could fathom he would never be happy. And so I was reminded of an important lesson: Our thoughts shape our world. We don’t stand a chance at happiness unless we our minds allow it. Thoughts are the energy we put out and the energy we get back matches exactly that. I can’t tell you why it is so difficult to think happy thoughts sometimes but I do know that it’s a choice. Choose positive, empowering, happy thoughts and watch as the world returns to you the same.


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