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The last place where you expect a life lesson to emerge is at a fast food drive-thru.

It is a quick stop during your day when you grab a coffee or something to eat and go on your merry way.  Other than placing your order, there is not much interaction that takes place

I try not to eat a lot of fast food. After all, as a martial artist, I’m expected to be in somewhat good shape. At almost 54 years of age, I must work a little harder than the younger group of martial artists to keep myself healthy and fit. It is just the way things are.

So, when I drive through, it is typically for a cup of coffee in the early morning when I’m on my way to work, or for a burger with no bun and extra lettuce and tomato for dinner.

Recently, I drove through for a quick cup of Joe. I expected this morning to be like every other, order, pay, grab a cup and go. I pulled up and patiently waited for the voice to ask what I wanted. Instead, I heard a woman’s voice echo something I never expected.

“Whatcha need, baby?” she asked.

Her question threw me off guard. I almost forgot that I was in line for coffee. What do I NEED? I almost began to mumble a laundry list of needs in my life, until I came back to reality. Then without much though I blurted my standard order, “A large coffee with two creams.”

Think about it. Wouldn’t you be shocked if someone took the time to ask you what you need? How many times does that happen?

Wouldn’t you jump on the opportunity to respond? What would your response be? A new car? A vacation? A new hairstyle, a romance, some money, a new job, a pair of shoes, to pay the rent? It would be nice on so many levels to get it off your chest and maybe, just maybe, someone would give you exactly what you need.

When I drove forward to the window to pay, I saw a heavy-set woman with long fingernails painted green, and a smile from ear to ear. As she collected my money, she said, “Have a great day, love.”

Her question, “Whatcha need baby?” kept haunting me. Somehow, I felt like she knew I was on the cusp of change in my life and needed some encouragement. I drove off with a coffee in hand, but a burning question in my heart.

I consider myself very lucky because when I chose to learn a martial art, I learned how to accurately identify my own needs, and fill them. Not everyone finds that kind of passion in their lives.

I would have never achieved a high rank if I had not learned how to break through my own negativity, overcome obstacles, and believe in myself.

In that journey, I learned a lot about what I needed, too.

The beauty of my practice is that I can redeem myself over and over. It is like being given a new chance to prove yourself and to build your self-respect. A few kicks bring my life into focus and fill the very basic need that I have, to live a positive and empowered life.

To grow in positivity, it is important to know that someone cares about you.

If someone takes the time to ask what you need, you soak it up because you know that they care. Your confidence soars. You feel appreciated. Life is good.

Consider me the voice at your life’s drive thru, asking “What do you need?”

Answer this very important question only after you have had a moment to assess your life and what is important to you. Fill your heart with the promise and hope of a new day. Focus on your strengths. Be positive and proactive. Live not by chasing your needs, but by embracing your talents.

If after some contemplation, you find that there is something that you really, really need, then just ask. I bet someone will give you a helping hand. Many times, after falling on the mat after being thrown in martial art class, another student stretches his hand out to help me back up. That action is more than a hoist up. It is about comradery and encouragement.

Every time I pass through that drive thru, the friendly voice asks me what I need. I never take it for granted. My need is always filled right then and there with a cup of positivity at the drive-thru.

Related: Four Super Powerful Words, I Can Do It!

I am thankful for the strangers in the world, like my drive thru friend who relay the most kind and positive messages. As Mother Teresa said, “Let us always meet each other with a smile, for the smile is the beginning of love.

There are a couple of new phrases that I enjoy sharing with friends and strangers alike, that I picked up at the drive-thru, along with my large coffee with two creams.  I try to say them every chance I get because I know what a difference they make.

Today, I ask you, “Watcha need, baby?”

No matter what it is, I wish you a great day, love.

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