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“Looking At Every Problem As An Opportunity….” Lesson — More Advice Needed


When I was fifteen, I met a man who had worked with Gandhi in India. He told me, “Larry, the key to Gandhi’s success was that he looked at every problem as an opportunity, not as a pain in the butt.” Hearing that advice, and taking it to heart, has improved the quality of my life immeasurably.

I was reminded of that quote when I just re-read an interesting article in the Atlantic from the summer titled “What Makes Us Happy?”

The director of a study on happiness is described like this:

“Vaillant says his hopeful temperament is best summed up by the story of a father who on Christmas Eve puts into one son’s stocking a fine gold watch, and into another son’s, a pile of horse manure. The next morning, the first boy comes to his father and says glumly, “Dad, I just don’t know what I’ll do with this watch. It’s so fragile. It could break.” The other boy runs to him and says, “Daddy! Daddy! Santa left me a pony, if only I can just find it!”

It struck me that this would be another good topic for the “life-learning” lessons I’ve been trying-out in my classroom, sharing on this blog, and writing about in my third book.

Over the past twenty-four hours, readers have been extraordinarily generous in their response to my request for student-accessible readings on a “Blaming Others” lesson I’m putting together. I thought I’d put out another call for suggestions on the topic of this post.

Do you have suggestions of short readings that would illustrate the idea of looking at problems as opportunities?

Everybody’s suggestions, with acknowledgments, will be included in a future post, and those whose I decide to use will be recognized in the book.

Of course, I’ll post the lesson plan I eventually use, along with a report on how it went.

Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.


  1. Larry,
    I think that you have a great idea here and although a short reading doesn’t come to mind at the moment, I was wondering if you use any other media such as cartoons to share the messages with your students. I know that your blog is extensive and comprehensive so I apologize if you have already written about this and I missed it! I recently began using the site, to make short comic strips related to “life-lesson” types of messages. My students voted on names of the main characters and even suggested that they name each new episode. I thought that they would find it silly or preachy but they love the playful characters who act out serious messages. It’s amazing how powerful a 3 frame comic strip can be!
    Good luck with your project.

  2. I found an article on famous celebrity apologies which could be a basis for case studies and may lead to a bigger discussion on celebrities accepting responsibilities for their actions.

    I find my students react to celebrity apologies so here are two more of the most recent celebrity apologies not listed in this article. Michael Phelps apology from USA Today:
    Miley Cyrus apology from People. I thought this was actually a better apology:,,20195785,00.html

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