Change or Do Nothing, the Choice is Always Mine to Make

“Good things happen slowly and bad things happen fast,” the doctor in the Intensive Care Unit told Abigail Thomas. She had met the ambulance at the emergency room after her husband was hit by a car as he was taking the dog for a walk. He was eventually transferred to the ICU and then went on to live in various rehabilitation hospitals, in the effort to help them both adjust to living with the resulting, permanent brain damage. Ms. Thomas tells of their experience in her book A Three Dog Life.

It only took a moment for the accident to forever change the lives of Thomas and her husband. It took years for him to recover as much as he ever would and for both of them to adjust to their new lives. Through the pain and hardship that were a part of the recovery process, good things came as well.

I was reminded of what the doctor told Ms. Thomas when I read this quote by motivational speaker Jim Rohn, “What we ponder and what we think about sets the course of our life. Any day we wish, we can discipline ourselves to change it all. Any day we wish, we can open the book that will open our mind to new knowledge. Any day we wish, we can start a new activity. Any day we wish, we can start the process of life change. We can do it immediately, or next week, or next month, or next year.

We can also do nothing. We can pretend rather than perform. And if the idea of having to change ourselves makes us uncomfortable, we can remain as we are. We can choose rest over labor, entertainment over education, delusion over truth, and doubt over confidence. The choices are ours to make. But while we curse the effect, we continue to nourish the cause. As Shakespeare uniquely observed, ‘The fault is not in the stars, but in ourselves.’ We created our circumstances by our past choices. We have both the ability and the responsibility to make better choices beginning today.”

One of Jim’s favorite sayings is, “Anything worthwhile is never easy.” The good that came from the tragedy in Ms. Thomas’ life was hard-won and took time. She had to make difficult choices and then wrestle with guilt over those choices. She had to face her fears and take some new risks. She learned through active experience what Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Do not be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment,” as she forged a new direction for her life.

I like what Rohn said, “But while we curse the effect, we continue to nourish the cause.” I think about areas of my life where I have to question, “Am I upset about the effect, the results I see and don’t like, but at the same time, am I nourishing the cause of those effects by not making different choices? Am I being timid and squeamish, letting fear and hesitation rule my choices?”

Thomas could have responded to the tragedy with anger, self-pity, and a victim mentality but she chose to respond with grace, dignity and openness to learning. Yes, at times there was anger and self-pity, but she didn’t let herself stay there. I think that’s the key. We’re going to experience a variety of human emotions and reactions to things that happen to us but if we’re really going to grow, we have to rise above them. One of the things that has been most helpful to me to keep things in perspective when bad things happen is to ask myself, “What can I learn from this?” Then I have to remind myself that the learning process is just that — a process, not an event — and give myself some grace.

Source by Sondra Whitt

Scroll to Top