Benjamin Zander, author, motivational speaker, and conductor of the Boston Philharmonic, often quotes his father as saying that "there is no bad weather, just inappropriate clothing."

I live in southern coastal New Hampshire, about an hour north of Boston, and when each winter brings day after day of snow, cold, and the ubiquitous icy mix, I plaster this phrase to the inside of my brain.

No bad weather, just inappropriate clothing.

And I remember how happy the skiers are about an hour north. I watch little kids out building their snow-forts, snowmen, and snow-everything. On occasion, when the snow is really gorgeous and deep and still falling, I venture out and make a snow angel. (It's always fun to try and get up out of the snow angel without messing it up.)

So I guess Mr. Zander's dad knows what he's talking about.

We can take this further if we like. Tom Crum has always said that "it's not what happens to us, it's what we do with what happens to us" that makes the difference in life. It's true. I've been sick all week with the flu, and although it wasn't fun to have a fever, chills, aches, and pains, once I relaxed into it, I felt like I was on vacation, catching up on fun reading, bad television, and good movies. The more I relaxed, the quicker I got well.

There are all manner of quotations about this idea that we invent our reality from moment to moment by the attitude we bring to it:

“We either make ourselves happy or miserable. The amount of work is the same.”
– Carlos Castaneda

"I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to
-- Dr. Charles Swindoll

"We can change our circumstances by a mere change of our attitude."
–William James

"I discovered I always have choices, and sometimes it’s only a choice of attitude." –Judith M. Knowlton

External circumstances are the "what is" of life. They exist, whether we want them to or not. How we view, interpret, and acknowledge "what is" makes the difference between a life of stress and struggle or one filled with gratitude and grace.

Author's Bio: 

Judy Ringer is the author of Unlikely Teachers: Finding the Hidden Gifts in Daily Conflict ( and the award-winning e-zine, Ki Moments, containing stories and practices on turning life's challenges into life teachers. Judy is a black belt in aikido and nationally known presenter, specializing in unique workshops on conflict, communication, and creating a positive work environment. She is the founder of Power & Presence Training and chief instructor of Portsmouth Aikido, Portsmouth, NH, USA. To sign up for more free tips and articles like these, visit