What Do You Choose to Believe?

The other day a friend posted a video on Facebook. It’s the story of a disabled veteran named Arthur who transforms himself through a yoga practice. I’ve seen this particular video many times before, yet I never fail to click on it when it crosses my screen. In case you haven’t seen it yet, here it is:

At first Arthur is using canes to walk, he is in pain and severely limited, and you can see in his eyes that he is virtually hopeless. For many years, people (doctors and basically everyone else) told him that he’d never walk again unassisted and that is what he believed.

Now I don’t know much about this particular yoga teacher’s methods, what diet advice he dispenses, or the day-to-day specifics of Arthur’s journey. But I do know that a key moment in his transformation was when Arthur decided that he could try something different. And that thousands of times after that initial decision he chose to reaffirm that belief.

Something inside Arthur told him that change was possible. He might not have been sure exactly how he would do it or how far it would take him, but there was a spark – something that interrupted his previous negative belief and let in the space necessary for something else to take hold.

Arthur was what I call ‘ready enough’ to take the chance on himself. And he found someone who could support him in his journey toward becoming stronger until he could literally and figuratively stand on his own.

What makes Arthur’s story at once exceptional and totally normal?

He chooses to believe something different.

Belief is a powerful motivator of our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. It works both ways – negatively and positively. When we believe something positive about ourselves, that belief fuels our behavior – like when we acknowledge what a good friend we are to others, we keep putting in the effort to maintain relationships and reach out to people. Similarly, when we believe something negative about ourselves, we fuel different behaviors – for example, if we believe that we’ll never learn something new, we don’t even allow ourselves to try.

What we often forget is that what we believe is a choice.

In Arthur’s video he falls…a lot. I think about what that must have felt like – not just to fall a lot, but to fall a lot on camera, for others to see. Body hurting. Pride wounded. No solid proof yet of where all of these efforts would take him. I imagine his friends and family cautiously cheering him on; perhaps they too wondered if it was really possible. Yet Arthur keeps getting up.

At one point he attempts a headstand and falls over, crashing into a bookcase. I think it would have been totally reasonable and human if in that moment, he started yelling expletives and decided to give up. Yet moments later he says, “just because I can’t do it today doesn’t mean I’m not going to be able to do it some day.”

He chooses to believe in himself.

You have to watch the video to know what happens to Arthur. His story is a wonderful demonstration of how true transformation takes time, support, patience, gentle discipline, and repeatedly coming back to one’s intention. At the end of the video, he offers these words:

“Never underestimate what you can accomplish when you believe in yourself.”

 So, what do you choose to believe?