Thursday, February 25, 2016

Living Happy #14: You Are Not A Victim

Jack Babey
(1943 - 2006)
You are not a victim.  That's an excuse.  You've heard them before.  I didn't get any of the good breaks.  I never finished college so I'll be stuck in this lousy job for the rest of my life.  My parents were abusive and I'll carry that with me the rest of my life.  I have this medical condition so I can't do anything.  I'll never be able to quit drinking--it runs in our family so there's not much that can be done about it.  If you see yourself that way, then you might as well just quit now.  Too many people do.  Too many of us have a tendency to blow our problems and challenges completely out of perspective no matter what they are.  We allow ourselves to be defeated before we've even begun to deal with it.  Sure, there are serious problems that will change your life, but there are also problems that really aren't that serious that we dwell on far too much.  I'll tell you something, it's the attitude you have toward that adversity that matters the most.  If you want to be happy, you have to play the hand you're dealt.  

My good friend Jack Babey got a very bad medical report back in about 1991--a very serious heart condition called cardio myopathy, and already at a very advanced stage.  He was given six months to live.  He began the process of putting his affairs in order.  He planned his funeral, got all his insurance papers organized, and made some financial decisions to ensure his wife would be able to pay the bills without him.  

But at some point, he decided he didn't necessarily believe the doctor's report.  Instead of sitting in his recliner waiting for his heart to fail, he bought a three wheel bicycle and began riding it all over town.  His doctor was against it--his heart was too weak, and Jack just said, "so I die of a heart attack in August instead of December?"  He had little to lose.  He lost weight.  He improved his diet.  He and I fished two or three times a week sometimes.  Six months came and went, then a year, then two.  He had numerous procedures including bypasses and heart stints.  But he kept on living and was enjoying his life more since he found out he was dying than he had before.  He bought a new car, because his was about to conk out.  He certainly wasn't acting like he thought he was going anywhere.  Instead of preparing to die, he decided he was going to live.  He became a statical anomaly.  Patients with cardio myopathy at the stage Jack's was in when it was diagnosed don't usually survive six months, let alone a year.  But Jack Babey wasn't your usual patient either.  He was stubborn.  He was willing to do what it took to live long enough to get to know his grandson.  There were things he wanted to do he hadn't had a chance to do yet.  He took a few trips with his wife.  He lived an amazing fifteen years with that condition, and his last fifteen were by far his happiest.  

We all have hardships in life.  Life has a way of dealing those out pretty generously.  It's how we deal with those challenges we face that matter.  Some are more difficult than others, but no matter what you're going through, somebody out there are gone through it as well and learned to deal with it.  We all know that person that just seems to snap back from adversity.  That person that just can't be broken.  That's the person you can learn something from.  You may need to change the way you view yourself.  You may need to realize that a lot of what has kept you down is you.  Change begins with you, and until you decide to view your life differently than you see it today nothing will ever change.  One thing I know for certain--the only person that can make you a victim is you.

~Todd E. Creason

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