Telling Tales: The Law of the Garbage Truck

Hi Folks:  We came across this story by David J. Pollay recently, and with his permission we’re including it on our blog.  It’s a simple story, but like many simply stories, one well worth remembering.  If you have not yet heard of David, here is his bio:

David J. Pollay is the creator of The Law of the Garbage Truck™.  He is a syndicated columnist, creator and host of The Happiness Answer™ television program, and an internationally sought after speaker.  David’s book, The Law of the Garbage Truck: Take control of your life with one decision and change the world, will be published by Sterling Publishing in September, 2010.  You can find out more about The Law of the Garbage Truck™ at

David holds a Master’s degree of applied positive psychology (M.A.P.P.) from the University of Pennsylvania, and a Bachelor’s degree in economics from Yale University.  He is the founding associate executive director of the International Positive Psychology Association.  You can catch David’s newsletter here.  You can reach him at, and you can read David’s blog at

Without further ado, here’s David’s “Law of the Garbage Truck” (NB: After reading the story, click on the link and take David’s “No Garbage Trucks Pledge”!)


Hi Everyone!

Thank you so much for connecting with me and The Law of the Garbage Truckâ„¢! The joy of my work is connecting with good people from all around the world. Together, we are committed to enjoying every day, doing what we love, and making a meaningful difference with our lives!

Below, I am posting my column “The Law of the Garbage Truck™,” also known as “Beware of Garbage Trucks!™.”

The Law of the Garbage Truckâ„¢ is a philosophy and strategy that allows people to take control of their lives. Millions around the world have already embraced the message of The Law.

The Law of the Garbage Truck™ is based on an experience I had in a taxicab almost twenty years ago. Over the years I developed the insight I gained that day into a life philosophy and strategy, and named it “The Law of the Garbage Truck.” I have shared The Law with thousands of people from more than one hundred countries in my speeches and seminars.

I have been teaching The Law of the Garbage Truck™ for nineteen years, and three years ago I published The Law in my syndicated newspaper column. Since publication, The Law has exploded into popular consciousness. Over 1,000 blogs have posted The Law—and more blogs on the topic are emerging daily. Millions more have received The Law via email from their friends, family members, and coworkers.

If you are interested in reprinting or posting The Law of the Garbage Truck™ or The No Garbage Trucks!™ Pledge, let me know:

Please share with me how you are applying The Law of the Garbage Truckâ„¢ in your life. I have heard hundreds of stories, and each one means a lot to me.

My book, The Law of the Garbage Truck: Take control of your life with one decision, will hit stores in early October, 2010.  Sterling Publishing, a Barnes & Noble company, is publishing the book.

Thank you for continuing to support and acknowledge my work; I am deeply grateful.

My best to you,


p.s. The North Star Writers Group syndicates my columns. And here are three other great sites where you can find The Law of the Garbage Truckâ„¢ and many of my other columns: Happy News, Positive Psychology News Daily, Boomer Times & Senior Life.

How often do you let other people’s nonsense change your mood? Do you let a bad driver, rude waiter, curt boss, or an insensitive employee ruin your day? Unless you’re the Terminator, you’re probably set back on your heels. However, the mark of your success is how quickly you can refocus on what’s important in your life.

Sixteen years ago I learned this lesson. And I learned it in the back of a New York City taxi cab. Here’s what happened.

I hopped in a taxi, and we took off for Grand Central Station. We were driving in the right lane when all of a sudden, a black car jumped out of a parking space right in front of us. My taxi driver slammed on his brakes, the car skidded, the tires squealed, and at the very last moment our car stopped just one inch from the other car’s back-end.

I couldn’t believe it. But then I couldn’t believe what happened next. The driver of the other car, the guy who almost caused a big accident, whipped his head around and he started yelling bad words at us. How do I know? Ask any New Yorker, some words in New York come with a special face. And he even threw in a one finger salute! I couldn’t believe it!

But then here’s what really blew me away. My taxi driver just smiled and waved at the guy. And I mean, he was friendly. So, I said, “Why did you just do that!? This guy could have killed us!” And this is when my taxi driver told me what I now call, “The Law of the Garbage Truck™.” He said:

“Many people are like garbage trucks. They run around full of garbage, full of frustration, full of anger, and full of disappointment. As their garbage piles up, they look for a place to dump it. And if you let them, they’ll dump it on you. So when someone wants to dump on you, don’t take it personally. Just smile, wave, wish them well, and move on. Believe me. You’ll be happier.”

So I started thinking, how often do I let Garbage Trucks run right over me? And how often do I take their garbage and spread it to other people at work, at home, or on the street? It was then that I said, “I don’t want their garbage and I’m not going to spread it anymore.”

I began to see Garbage Trucks. Like in the movie “The Sixth Sense,” the little boy said, “I see Dead People.” Well now “I see Garbage Trucks.” I see the load they’re carrying. I see them coming to dump it. And like my taxi driver, I don’t take it personally; I just smile, wave, wish them well, and I move on.   One of my favorite football players of all time was Walter Payton. Every day on the football field, after being tackled, he would jump up as quickly as he hit the ground. He never dwelled on a hit. Payton was ready to make the next play his best. Over the years the best players from around the world in every sport have played this way: Muhammad Ali, Nadia Comaneci, Bjorn Borg, Chris Evert, Michael Jordan, Jackie Robinson, and Pele are just some of those players. And the most inspiring leaders have lived this way: Nelson Mandela, Mother Theresa, Gandhi, and Martin Luther King.

See, Roy Baumeister, a psychology researcher from Florida State University, found in his extensive research that you remember bad things more often than good things in your life. You store the bad memories more easily, and you recall them more frequently.

So the odds are against you when a Garbage Truck comes your way. But when you follow The Law of the Garbage Truckâ„¢, you take back control of your life. You make room for the good by letting go of the bad.

The best leaders know that they have to be ready for their next meeting. The best sales people know that they have to be ready for their next client. And the best parents know that they have to be ready to greet their children with hugs and kisses, no matter how many garbage trucks they might have faced that day. All of us know that we have to be fully present, and at our best for the people we care about.

The bottom line is that successful people do not let Garbage Trucks take over their lives.

What about you? What would happen in your life, starting today, if you let more garbage trucks pass you by?

Here’s my bet: You’ll be happier.

You have a choice.  Make it today.
Have a Garbage Free Day!â„¢

Take the No Garbage Trucksâ„¢ Pledge!

2 Replies to “Telling Tales: The Law of the Garbage Truck”

  1. Emily

    Hi there,

    I’m the new Social Media Marketing Coordinator at Sterling Publishing. Because you’ve blogged about David J. Pollay’s The Law of the Garbage Truckâ„¢ in the past, I’d like to ask you to be part of an exciting movement. David’s book The Law of the Garbage Truck launches on October 7…


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