There were once two prisoners who shared a cell.
They were both serving long sentences and were unlikely to ever be released.
Every morning, the warden would check on their cell and he was always amazed by what he saw.
One of the prisoners, Bob, was perpetually miserable and dragged himself to his feet.
The other, Ricky, always had a smile on his face in the morning and he jumped out of bed with enthusiasm.
This puzzled the staff and many of the other prisoners for many months as they could understand why Bob was so unhappy, but not why Ricky was so positive about life.
One day, the local priest was visiting the prison and he too noticed the difference in attitude between the two men.
He asked Bob about his demeanour and he promptly responded, “How would you feel if you were trapped in this place with no chance of release?”
The priest thought that this was a reasonable response, so he went to Ricky to ask him about how he maintained his positive attitude.
Ricky responded, “You’re a priest, right?”
“Yes, I am.”
“And that means you have some sort of confidentiality thing that means you can’t tell anyone anything that I tell you.”
“Yes, that’s right.”
“Well,” began Ricky, pulling his chair closer to the clergyman, “I’ve been planning an escape ever since I got here. I haven’t got it all worked out yet and it may take me a long time to accomplish, but every time I start to feel sorry for myself and my situation, I remember that I can choose to accept my fate or do something about it. Everyone here seems to just accept their fate, but I refuse to. I understand that I may seem crazy and I may never be able to achieve my goal of getting out, but while I have breath, I have hope and while I have hope, there’s always something that I can do to help make my situation better.”
The priest smiled and looked at the inmate with new respect.
And he went home with the understanding that many of the people he met on the outside were more trapped than Ricky.
I wrote this story as a reminder that no matter what your situation is, you have a choice.
If you don’t like how you’re living, you can feel miserable or you can do something about it.
You have a choice.
You have hope.
You can do it.