Jake Olson: Reminding Us All

December 2, 2009

I saw this story on ESPN and was truly moved.  Not only by the story itself, and the coaches and players who did such a marvelous thing, but by Jake’s amazing attitude and maturity.

The part that’s truly touching is that he keeps the same attitude after surgery that he had before.  Jake Olson’s example reminds us to be grateful for what we have and helps us to remember that no loss demands a loss of a positive attitue.

Watch the story and tell me what you think.

Jh-

PS USC gets their Victory over UCLA


I Can Do Anything For 80 Years

October 22, 2009

Hospital Traction 1st Acc._2

I have been taught the importance of being positive from the youngest days of my life.  I don’t remember a time when having a PMA (Positive Mental Attitude) wasn’t a regular part my parents instruction on the proper way to live a life.

Therefore, growing up, I tried to make a positive outlook a part of my life.  I tried to look at the glass half full, tried to see the best in those around me and tried to concentrate on the good and forget the bad.

Then at fifteen and a half, on the 13th of July 1986 my life changed in a second.

I went from a completely healthy young man in the best shape of my life to paralyzed from the chest down with only partial use of my arms and no use of my hands.

As difficult as that transition was, it was the first nights that were the most harrowing.  My lungs filled with mucus to the point where you could barely see any clear part of my lung on the x-ray.  My pulmonologist told me it was the worst case of pneumonia he had ever seen.

You didn’t have to have a medical degree to understand that my life was in the balance.  In those days, I had one wish.  It wasn’t to walk, it wasn’t to be accepted back at home, and it wasn’t to have a normal life-It was to live.

All I wanted was to wake up the next morning.

After a few days when I began to feel, not quite out of the woods, but on my way there, my dad came to the side of my bed and asked me if I felt like I could deal with life as a quadriplegic, I replied, “I can do anything for 80 years.” I was so grateful that I’d kept my life—everything seemed better.  Even paralysis seemed doable.

In the days since then, I’ve almost lost my life at least one other time.  And in those days, good or bad, I’ve tried to recall  that same feeling.  Whenever life gets difficult (as it often does) I try to remember that no matter how bad it gets, I still have my life.

Knowing that I am still breathing makes everything else challenging small in comparison.  It makes a real difference in my effort to live a happy life.  It is difficult to complain about the stumbling blocks when you find a way to remember that you are still around to stumble.

When things get hard, remember to love life.  Be grateful that you are still here.  Be glad that you have a chance to struggle and the negativity will be replaced with that Positive Mental Attitude I was taught so much about in my youth

Jh-


It All Trickles Down

January 7, 2009

chart

During the 80’s there was a lot of news about an innovative way to look at economics. It was called “Trickle Down Economics.” It was a new idea for stimulating the economy and sharing wealth.

The basic tenant was to structure the tax code so the wealthy had more money in their pockets. This wasn’t done solely as a benefit to the wealthy but also conceptually as a benefit to those in lower tax brackets as well. The idea was that the more money those with money had in their pockets the more money everyone would be able to call their own.

For the wealthy would want to use their money to become more wealthy. This would motivate them to take those extra dollars to expand their businesses or invest in others. This expansion or investment would create jobs. More people with more jobs would equal more total revenue and therefore more taxes overall. This idea would allow taxes to be lowered without lowering the total amount of tax the government needed to do its business.

Just like anything in government there are some that agree with the idea and some that don’t. Some believe this is a good way to go about running government and there are some that believe it to be total foolishness and a complete failure. Frankly, for our purposes it doesn’t make any difference which side of the fence you’re on; for the purposes of this argument all that matters is that you understand the concept.

Whether or not you believe it works in economics you need to know the “Trickle Down Effect” does work in attitudes. Every day when you choose to be happy or sad it doesn’t simply affect you, it affects everyone around you. Your attitude “trickles down” to people literally all over the world.

The idea of “Six Degrees of Separation” dictates that you can start anywhere in the world with any person and through six connections find your way to you. In essence, someone they know will know someone, who knows someone, who knows someone, who knows someone, who knows you.

Think about how much that changes your responsibility with reference to the attitude you choose. Your attitude is going to “trickle down” to the people that you know. “ Six Degrees of Separation” later your attitude has  “trickled down” to someone you’ve never met in the middle of Africa. There they are just living their lives, doing the best they can and if you choose to be negative eventually it will “trickle down” to them.

By the same token think about all the people your positive outlook could change. Think about all the people you know and interact with, and all the people they know and interact with, and so on and so forth. Think about all the good your positive attitude can do.

There are days when it can be hard to find anything to be happy about. On those days it is easy to simply selfishly assume that our attitude only affects us. If we have a bad day and act negatively what’s the damage?

Whether or not you accept that your negativity could really “trickle down” all the way to Africa. It’s not hard to accept that it does “trickle down.” It’s not hard to see your attitude affect those around you. The people you love and care about most will have an easier or harder time to look at the good in their lives based on the outlook you choose to have.

When we realize our decision to project positivity or negativity doesn’t just affect us, our responsibility to keep a positive outlook increases. If we ever hope to live in a world filled with peace, we must take care with the attitude we fill our piece of the world with.

It all comes down to economics. The next time you feel a little down and feel inclined to take time to wallow in negativity, remember your choice affects more attitudes than just your own. Work hard to find the best in your life and live with a positive attitude–not just for yourself, but also for those around you. It all “trickles down.”

Jh-


The Laughter Lesson

December 9, 2008

weirdal

Directly after I broke my neck everyone around me went into triage. The people who were responsible for my care made sure that I received the most important care first. The EMTs who first arrived on that beach at Lake Powell did only what was needed most to get me to the emergency room. The ER doc’s picked the most crucial areas of my health to concentrate on to prepare me for surgery. The surgeon’s cared only for my most critical needs to get me into the ICU. My ICU doctors worried only about those things that were most eminent to my survival.

My parents follow the same course. They decided to concentrate only on those things they felt were most important to keep my attitude up and my spirits high. Of those few things they picked to concentrate on one of them was to make sure I laughed.

Every day I was required to watch, listen to, read, or have read to me something that was funny. They didn’t care what it was as long as it made me laugh. At my request they left the hospital and went and purchased every “Weird Al” Yankovic or Bill Cosby album, every Don Knotts/Tim Conway or Monty Python video they could find.

No matter how bad the day, no matter how bad I felt, no matter how bad my situation I had to use these “tools” every day. It was made to be as important as any therapy session or surgical procedure. My parents wanted to ensure that laughter was a part of my life even on days when there didn’t seem to be much to laugh about.

The results were amazing. Regardless of how I felt Bill, Al, Don, Tim and the Pythons always made me smile. That smile always turn into a laugh, and that laugh into laughter. As I laughed my problems seem smaller and the day brighter.

Years later I try to use this important lesson in my life. I work hard to make sure that every day I find something to make me smile; to make me laugh. I have found that immersing myself in humor for some part of my day is as important as anything else I do to keep my attitude up.

This dedication to laughter has also allowed me to look at the lighter side of my life. I have found that when trying times come they go much easier when you find the humor in the situation and learn to laugh. Some may think it’s the crazy and at times a little twisted. But, I have found it impossible to smile and frown at the same time. I can’t do it–It is a physical impossibility.

Try it. Find something, anything that makes you laugh and make it a part of your daily regiment.  Make it a habit. Just like you brush your teeth and comb your hair everyday make sure you set aside some time to laugh. No matter how busy your schedule, find a way to fit it in. If you will you’ll find your bad days better, your good days greater, and your great days out of this world.

They key is to simply learn to laugh.

Jh-


Wet Pants or Dry Shirt?

September 24, 2008

On a regular, average summer afternoon in my youth I was sitting in the kitchen watching my youngest brother play with his friends in the backyard as my mother cleaned up the mess from lunch.  The kids fun came to its inevitable lull, the friends went home and my brother came in the house.  As soon as he opened the back door it was obvious that there was a problem.  He had wet his pants.

He was old enough that this was something my mom believed to be behind them.  I could tell by the look on my brothers face that he knew wetting his pants was going to bring him some grief.  He sheepishly looked up and his innocent eyes met my mothers understandably furious gaze.

“Nathan, you wet your pants!” she exclaimed.

“Yeah,” he replied, “but, I didn’t wet my shirt.”

My mom tried hard to remain stern, but the laughter took over.  Nathan and I followed suit and began to laugh, I looked closely and realized he was right.  Although his pants were soaked his shirt was bone dry.

Nathan was under no misconceptions about what happened. He had in fact wet his pants, and this was something, “bad.” It wasn’t the right thing, or a good thing, or a thing that even remotely had any positive ramifications. But, it had happened, and now he had to make a decision — to concentrate on the bad or to see the good.

Often in our lives were presented with the same opportunity. To decide whether to see the bad or emphasize the good. Seeing the bad is definitely easier, and requires very little effort. There is bad everywhere in everyone’s life, and it gets all kinds of publicity. All you have to do is watch the news, read the paper, or listen to the daily gossip to see it.   There are bad people making poor decisions that bring with them bad consequences. There are also good people making good decisions that bring unfortunate consequences. Bad things happen, it’s just a fact of life.

However, if we choose to we can, like Nathan, see the good. But, it will take considerably more effort. It doesn’t get the press the bad does, maybe a few minutes at the end of the nightly news,  or a few lines in the paper. But it’s there, it ‘s everywhere.  If you’ll look, you’ll see it as someone lets you merge on the freeway, or a neighbor stops to help you fix your car.   It’s evident in every kind word or simple deed that comes unasked from one person to another. It’s just as evident and prevalent as the bad for those who make the conscious decision to see it.

We then, each day get to choose.  Which will it be, which will we see. This decision will be paramount in deciding what kind of day you have. If you choose to concentrate on the, “Wet Pants” you’ll see them and have a bad day. But, if you’ll exert just little extra energy you’ll find the, “Dry Shirts” and have good day after good day.

So, “Wet Pants or Dry Shirt.”

Jh-


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