October 17, 2012

Bad to Good

It wasn’t the high point of Janette Colantonio’s day when a state trooper pulled her over while she was driving home from school. “I saw the blue lights behind me, and I pretty much knew what the ticket was going to be for,” the Summerville, South Carolina, woman told a local WCSC reporter.* Colantonio wasn’t wearing a seat belt—she hadn’t worn one for years. Weighing more than 400 pounds, Colantonio couldn’t get the seat belt to stretch across her body. 

Others might have responded to this situation with accusations that the trooper was heartless and insensitive, or by threatening the carmaker with a lawsuit for not providing longer seat belts. Colantonio, however, chose to accept the ticket as a wake-up call. She lost more than 200 pounds within the year and a half following the incident, and then found and thanked the officer for giving her the ticket. 

Most of us would consider receiving a ticket for a driving infraction a “bad” thing, but Colantonio took something that usually would ruin a person’s day and turned it into a catalyst for “good”—a motivator to change her life for the better. What made the difference? Attitude.

We each choose how to respond to less-than-ideal circumstances, to criticism, to controversy. We determine whether to become defensive, to lash back, to make excuses, or to try to see the situation from the other person’s perspective and ask ourselves if there’s something we can do to improve things. 

We shouldn’t automatically assume that we’re in the wrong—life is complex, and knowing the best way to respond to negative occurrences isn’t always straightforward. Sometimes, though, turning “bad” to “good” takes nothing more than a gentle tone and a simple adjustment in attitude. 

* www.live5news.com/story/19455273/traffic-ticket-inspires-summerville-woman-to-lose-weight

Sandra Blackmer is features editor of the Adventist Review. This article was published October 28, 2012.