I was on my school’s basketball team for three years. In that time period, the team only won four games. Part of the problem was that I knew that our team was the worst; my teammates knew we were the worst, and I went into every game thinking that I would lose. I joked around with my teammates that if we only lost the game by fifty points, I could call it a victory. They jokingly agreed with me, knowing that we would lose as well. Towards the end of the season, the coach said that the team we were about to play was also winless, just like us, and if we believed, we would win. That was the first game I went into thinking I would win and our team never looked back. After the game, our coach smiled at us and said that the team we just beat was actually undefeated. Since that time, I believe that anything is possible in the right mindset.
Two years ago, I volunteered at Woodbury nursing home. My job was to transport the elderly to the bingo room, and then transport them back after bingo was done. While doing this, I had the opportunity to meet many people, and many of them would tell me their stories. One man told me that he has cancer, and that he was only expected to live for a few more months. I asked him how he coped with this news and he told me that he had accepted that he was dying. He also said that he would like to see his grandson’s wedding, which was six months away. I told him that he could see his grandson’s wedding. “How do you know, you are not a doctor?” replied the old man. “If you believe that you will have the strength, then you will.”
I used to think I could do many things, but deep down, I knew they weren’t possible. If the old man was diagnosed with cancer, then he was diagnosed with cancer. Now I believe that a positive outlook can be the difference between succeeding and failing. Staying positive is a way to get away from the realities of life. It let me feel good about myself despite the fact that there were bad things happening around me.
As for the man in the nursing home, he was able to battle his cancer and watch his grandson become married. Although the doctors said he only had three months to live, he persevered and lives on to this day.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.