Life is what we make it to be


Vipasha Naik

Psychology Associate

This story is about Tom, who was an extremely optimistic person. Here’s how it goes:

Tom was the kind of person one would love to hate. He was always in a good mood and always had something positive to say. When someone would ask him how he was doing, he would reply, “If I were any better, I would be twins! Life could not be any better than this!”

He was a unique restaurant manager because he had several waiters who followed him around from restaurant to restaurant. The reason the waiters followed Tom, was his attitude. He was a natural motivator. If an employee was having a bad day, Tom was there showing the employee the positive side of the situation.

Seeing this got one of his colleagues curious, so one day he went up to Tom and asked him, “I don’t get it! One cannot remain positive all of the time. How do you do it?”

Tom replied, “Each morning I wake up and say to myself, Tom, you have two choices today. You can choose to be in a good mood or you can choose to be in a bad mood. I choose to be in a good mood. Each time something bad happens, I can choose to be a victim or I can choose to learn from it. Every time someone comes to me complaining, I can choose to accept their complains, or I can point out the positive side of life. I choose the positive side of life.”

“Yeah, right, but it’s not that easy to implement in real life,” the colleague protested.

“Yes it is,” Tom said.

“Life is all about choices. When you cut away all the junk, every situation is a choice. You choose how to react to situations. You choose how people will affect your mood. You choose to be in a good or bad mood. The bottom line: It’s your choice how you live life.”

The colleague reflected on what Tom said. Soon thereafter, he left the restaurant industry to start his own business. He lost touch with Tom, but he often thought about him when he made a choice about life instead of reacting to it.

Several years later, he heard that Tom did something one is never supposed to do in the restaurant business: he left the back door open one morning and was held up at gunpoint by three armed robbers.

While trying to open the safe, his hand, shaking from nervousness, slipped off the combination. The robbers panicked and shot him. Luckily, Tom was found relatively quickly and rushed to the local trauma center. After 18 hours of surgery and weeks of intensive care, Tom was released from the hospital with fragments of the bullets still in his body.

He saw Tom about six months after the accident. When he asked him how he was, he replied, “If I were any better, I’d be twins. Wanna see my scars?”

He declined to see his wounds but he did ask him what had gone through his mind as the robbery took place. “The first thing that went through my mind was that I should have locked the back door,” Tom replied, “Then, as I lay on the floor, I remembered that I had two choices: I could choose to live, or I could choose to die. And I chose to live.”

“Weren’t you scared? Did you lose consciousness?” he asked. Tom continued, “The doctors were great. They kept telling me I was going to be fine. But when they wheeled me into the emergency room and I saw the expressions on the faces of the doctors and nurses, I got really scared. In their eyes, I read, ‘He’s a dead man’, I knew I needed to take action.”

“What did you do?” he asked.

“Well, there was a big, burly nurse shouting questions at me,” said Tom. She asked if I was allergic to anything. ‘Yes, I replied’.

The doctors and nurses stopped working as they waited for my reply. I took a deep breath and yelled, ‘Bullets!’ Over their laughter, I told them, “I am choosing to live. Operate on me as if I am alive, not dead.”

Tom lived, thanks to the skills of his doctors, but also because of his amazing attitude.

This is a great way of reminding us that we always have a choice. A choice to choose our response. Be it anything, approaching it with positivity and gratefulness makes our life effortlessly happy! Our attitude, after all, is everything.

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