It’s freshman orientation season at my university, which means I’m spending a couple days a week meeting one-on-one with incoming students and helping them choose classes for their first semester in college.

Putting together one’s very first college schedule can seem daunting, and it’s interesting to observe students’ attitudes and demeanors during the meeting. Some are eager, others are subdued, a few have done extensive research and arrive armed with spreadsheets of their first, second, and third choices of each kind of course.

Nearly all seem nervous. Nearly all.

Earlier this week, I met with an incoming freshman whose energy, friendliness and joie de vivre caught me off guard. I was dragging a bit (it was late afternoon), but 30 seconds of talking to this kid got me all fired up like it was 9:00 AM and I’d just finished my second cup of coffee. He was thrilled to be going to college, couldn’t wait to get started, and wanted to tell me all about how excited he was. I’m telling you, this guy’s positive energy was downright infectious. Running into him was a mood-changer, and it changed the course of my afternoon.

This young man chose to adopt a positive attitude in a situation where he could have gotten away with being stressed and grouchy. He gave when he could have taken. He brought his own emotional weather with him. We all face that same choice, moment by moment and day by day: to be a mood-changer or not.

It’s not a gift; it’s a choice.