A Change of Plans and A Lesson on Happiness

I had just finished reading from one of my favorite books and was on my way to go see a good friend. When I got to his place though, I was greeted with a pleasant surprise.

While I was reading, I forgot to respond to a text my friend had sent out. After I was done riding I quickly left without paying much attention to it. I left my place on my bike at an extremely fast pace and also getting some nice “hang time” on my bike while hopping over some fresh, overly filled, potholes. Once I got to his place though, it was too late… he had already left. 

I was a little disappointed, in my arrogance, of not checking my phone but I thought quickly, with the sudden “free time.” I drove my bike just a few minutes down the road to one of my favorite places… the train station.

It was Saturday and the time was around 10pm. The trains were still coming by dropping off the town people from a long day in the city. Some people probably were just getting back from doing some of the usual sight seeing of the “Grand Concrete Jungle,” some we’re probably getting back from a weekend shift at work, some we’re getting back from a day’s worth of shopping in a place with, in my opinion, just way too many places to shop, and some we’re getting back from hanging out with friends and enjoying a night “out on the town.”

As I peered over to the other side of the tracks, there were people whom were going the opposite way towards the “beautiful chaos” of that place we call “The City.” It’s never ending I thought and there’s just another name we call it, “The City that never sleeps.”

Then I looked over to one of the benches, and I saw one of my friends, Juan, sitting on the bench. He was casually reading the day’s news-paper with that happy grin I always see carrying around(I always saw him around town reading the newspaper). I then got his attention when I said, “Hey Juan! How are you my friend?” He responded with, “Good- good, how are you?” I asked if it was alright to sit down, and he said, “Of course,” as he set the paper down and looked to me.” The conversation was nothing but delightful. I was a little anxious before I started talking to him though. Whenever I talked to him in the past he never really was in the “talking mood.” He always gave me one or two word responses. He was always extremely polite but just was out doing his own thing and not really in the mood to chat. So, our conversations usually ended quickly.

This time, the conversation went a little different. He ended up opening up, immensely, telling me how he was 62 years old(I figured out why he always read the newspaper) and he letting me know that he was from Costa Rica. “I came over when I was younger through Mexico,” he told me. Juan, missed his country greatly but he told me that, “America is my home, and although I want to go back to my country and visit, it’s a lot tougher down there in Costa Rica.” He ended up telling me about how 20 years ago while he was working in a textile factory, the company went “under,” which then quickly prompted the loss of Juan’s job. He didn’t go much into detail about what happened after that but in short, he told me, “Times we’re really tough.”

I kept talking to him and then asked him a pretty basic question, “Juan… are you happy?” He quickly responded with, “Ohhh yes, I’m very happy.” I immediately asked him, “Why is that?” He then told me, what I thought, was special. Juan told me, “I just do whatever I want. I’m in complete control of my life, no one’s telling me when to get up, what to eat, what to drink, and no one’s telling me how much money I should make.”

Juan’s someone who’s in complete control of his life. Although, it might not be the most glamorous life, according to some people, he’s living his life and he’s living it the way he wants too. Most importantly, he’s Happy. He continued on and said, “Yeah, sometimes I walk over there, sometimes I do this, and sometimes I do that. I just do whatever I feel like doing for the day.” I then saw that he was picking up his newspaper, I was prompted to ask, “What exactly do you like to read in the paper?” He then responded with, “Oh everything, I read everything, I just check it all out.” He then gave me one of those “awesome” grins that you just can’t help but smile back. He then just shrugged his shoulders like he wanted to tell me, “Dude I just don’t care what other people think. I’m happy and that’s all there is to it. If someone wants to put me down, then… that’s okay, but I’m going to live my life the way I want to.”

To say the least, I was just so taken aback from this conversation. Mainly, because I just didn’t expect him to be so enthusiastic and open with me after all the past conversations we had, that lasted somewhere around 30 seconds. I was thrilled to have had that conversation with him.

I then asked him one more question. I didn’t have them with me this night, but I had some smoothies at my place. I asked him, Could I go get you one of my smoothies?” To that he responded politely with, “No-no, I’m good man, but thank you.” I was a little disappointed by that, but I’ll remember to try again next time I see him. One of these days maybe.


“Happiness doesn’t depend on any external conditions, it is governed by our mental attitude.” -Dale Carnegie

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