By Greg Baer M.D.

May 9, 2007

Once there was a village nestled at the base of a range of rugged mountains. For generations the people had kept to their farms in the valley, perhaps because they enjoyed such an abundance of water, good soil, and other natural resources there.

One day, however, a few villagers wandered a short distance up into the foothills of the mountains, and they were astonished at the beautiful view. Never before had they seen the river, the forests, the fields, the orchards, and their homes from such a perspective.

When they returned to the village and shared their experiences, people were fascinated and began to make their own journeys into the foothills and then higher into the mountains. As they climbed, the benefits unfolded. The views became more varied and beautiful. The climbers became more physically fit. As they climbed together, they learned to cooperate more with each other. The higher they climbed, the more possibilities for development they could see in the valley.

Not everyone, however, found climbing to be an exhilarating and beneficial experience. One man, Vic, thought the whole “climbing thing” was a bit ridiculous. Nobody had ever climbed before, he thought, so why should they start now?

Nevertheless, one day when a group of his friends invited him on a climb, he said, “Oh, all right, I’ll go.”

After twenty minutes of walking, Vic stopped and asked, “How long does this take?”

“We’ll be in the foothills in a couple of hours,” Colleen said, “and in the mountains a couple of hours after that.”

Vic rolled his eyes and sighed. “It sure seems like a lot of work to me.”

“We told you before we left how long it would take, remember?” asked Michael.

“I just don’t see why you’d waste all this time and effort,” said Vic.

“Do you want to go back?” asked Cheryl.

Vic sighed again. “Oh, I guess I’ll keep going. What else can I do now?”

The group continued their walk, and twenty minutes later Vic stopped and said, “It sure seems like a long way.”

“We’re twenty minutes farther along than the last time you mentioned that,” said David, “but I think you’ll find that it’s worth it. It’s great exercise, we enjoy ourselves, and the view on the mountain is unbelievable.”

“I just don’t see what you’re talking about,” said Vic.

“I agree,” said David. “From here you don’t, but up there you will.”

The group continued walking, but twenty minutes later Vic stopped and said, “This is too much work.”

“We thought it was a lot of work at first too,” said Colleen, “but now we enjoy it. These climbs have changed our whole lives, in fact.”

“I just don’t get it, and I don’t have to do it,” said Vic.

“No, you really don’t,” said Michael. “You do not have to continue the climb.”

“Finally,” said Vic, “some good sense. Let’s go back and have some dinner.”

“You’re welcome to do that,” said Michael.

“What do you mean, I’m welcome to do that? Are you saying that you’d leave me?”

“Not at all,” said Cheryl. “This morning we all agreed that we’d be climbing into the mountains all day, possibly for a couple of days. You agreed to that also. We will be continuing the climb — that’s why we’re here — but we will certainly not force you to do that. You can choose to do whatever you wish.”

“So you’ll leave me?”

“No, we’ll be continuing the climb as we had all planned. If you go back home, you will actually be leaving us, but that’s all right. You have a right to do that. We’ll be fine.”

Vic was furious and stomped back home, where he sulked for several days, speaking to no one.

Climbing the mountains became quite a pastime for the villagers. With their new perspectives, they began working on projects all over the valley, doing things that never would have occurred to them before. People traveled more. New industries developed. People cooperated more and became happier.

Except for Vic, who stayed at home and complained. About everything. He complained that nobody ever came to see him, that nobody involved him in their new projects or industries, and that people seemed to be going somewhere without him all the time. Occasionally, a friend invited him on a climb, but he always refused, claiming that it was too hot or too cold or too far or too something.

Eventually, the face of the valley changed significantly. Farming, industry, and trade were transformed, and in the process Vic’s old ways of doing things became outmoded, and he complained bitterly about what had been taken from him and about what “those people” had done to him. He complained until the day he died, alone and bitter.

As with Vic, we always have a choice. We can choose to climb higher, learn more, love better, and become happier, or we can choose to act like Vic — like victims. We can complain, make excuses, blame other people, and whine, but if we continue in that course, we’ll only destroy ourselves. We have opportunities every day to choose between victimhood and happiness. May we be wise enough to see these choices and make the wiser ones.


Recover from your negative habits and beliefs!


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