Tyler Trent and Zen and the Art of Happiness

Jan 03

This past week brought news that Purdue University’s super fan, Tyler Trent, had died. His cancer, a rare bone cancer he had beaten twice before, finally got the better of him. Just days after Colts owner Jim Irsay flew Tyler to Nashville to see the Boilermakers play in the Music City Bowl, he was gone.

People across the State of Indiana and the country wept.

I was sad, too—and how could I not be having lost my own son at age 16—but I also felt deep respect for Tyler. Instead of bowing down to terminal cancer, he rose to the challenge and shook his fist at his disease. He continued to live his life to the fullest and inspire others. And for Tyler that meant supporting his beloved Boilermakers and inspiring them to an unlikely victory over then #2 Ohio State, raising money for cancer research and Riley Children’s Hospital, forming an organization for teens that performs service projects for families affected by cancer, and making friends from all walks of life. For that, the Boilers, their backers, and people like you and me loved Tyler Trent.

“Though I am in hospice care and have to wake up every morning knowing that the day might be my last, I still have a choice to make: to make that day the best it can be. Yet, isn’t that a choice we all have every day? After all, nobody knows the amount of days we have left. Some could say we are all in hospice to a certain degree.”

           – Tyler Trent, guest columnist for the IndyStar

Tyler’s story reminds me of a book called Zen and the Art of Happiness that shares a philosophy for life and ultimately happiness:

“Treat everything that happens to you as the best possible thing to happen to you.”

It’s simple yet incredibly profound. Why? Because we typically don’t consider everything that happens to us to be the best thing ever. Is losing a family member, a job, or a home the best thing ever? If you believe Zen and the Art of Happiness, yes, it is.

This philosophy for life gets down to the truth that nothing in this world is either good or bad. Instead, how we choose to respond makes something good or bad. Our personal choice forms the perception, positive or negative. Here’s an example:

In October, I lost a big client I’d had for several years due to budget constraints. The news left me feeling devastated and worried about my finances. After stewing for a few days, I used my new found free time to develop and launch a new website and begin an aggressive networking campaign for my company, Lux-Writes. Although it’s early, I’ve landed a large website redesign project and gained a new client in the drug development industry. Both organizations work to make the world a better place and I’m honored to represent them.

Zen and the Art of Happiness is correct. What we perceive as a “bad” thing can also be perceived—and believed—as the best thing that’s ever happened. If we want to be happier, we can change how we respond to life and the curve balls it throws us and thus see the perfect truth in every situation.

It worked for Tyler Trent.

I’m sure it will work for me, too.



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