One Decision Can Change Your Life

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Tony Robbins grew up with four different fathers and a mother who, although he loved dearly, could be volatile and angry.

“You see, it always starts with one. And like a domino effect, it impacts one after the other.”

One Thanksgiving as a child, the doorbell rang. Tony ran to open the door and, to his absolute shock and awe, saw a man standing outside. The man’s arms were overflowing with bags of groceries.

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Delighted, Tony sprinted back inside, yelling, “Dad, Dad! Someone’s at the door and they’ve got FOOD!”

Tony’s dad immediately looked angry. You see, Tony’s father struggled to put food on the table and this Thanksgiving was looking to be one of canned vegetables and little more.

His father got up and stomped to the door.

Looking at the man holding the groceries, he muttered roughly, “We don’t take charity from strangers,” and went to slam the door shut…

But the stranger shot his foot out between the door and frame, causing it to bounce back open.

“Sir, I’m just the delivery guy. This is a Thanksgiving gift from someone who cares. Please, don’t let your family starve because of your pride.”

Finally, Tony’s father snatched the groceries from the delivery man’s arms and stormed inside without a word.

That day, Tony realized we’re all constantly making three decisions every moment, and how you make those decisions can dramatically impact your reality.

The first decision: What you focus on
“What you focus on, you feel.”

The most powerful decision we make – and often don’t make consciously – is what we focus on.

When the stranger showed up at Tony’s house, he focused on the food at the door – how amazing! His father’s focus was, I’m accepting charity because I can’t provide for my family.

You can see how he and his father felt very differently that day because focus equals feeling.

Do you focus on what you have or what’s missing? If you focus on what’s missing, you can never sustain happiness. When you focus on what you have, you feel alive. You feel joy. You feel grateful. And these things that make you happy only exist in your reality when you focus on them.

It’s the same with the past. When you only focus on the past, you can never move forward. When you focus on the present, you enjoy life.

And the last pattern is what you can control. Focusing on what you can’t control makes you sad, angry and frustrated. But when you focus on what you can control, you feel empowered and unstoppable.

Remember, whatever you focus on, you feel – even if it’s not true.

The second decision: What it means

That Thanksgiving gift forever changed Tony.

While his dad nursed his wounded ego, Tony thought for the first time, strangers care.

He decided that he cares too.He gave that interaction meaning.Meaning equals emotion, and emotion equals life.

You don’t just a manage your life — you create your life. You decide what meaning you give things.

Even in our darkest moments, we can choose the meaning and turn obstacles into opportunities.

If something is taken away from yous, do you ask, Is this really the end? Or do you ask, Is this the beginning of a new opportunity? Are you being punished? Or are you being challenged?

You turn pain into purpose when you realize that every problem is a gift.

The third decision: What am I going to do?

How many decisions have you made where, if you made a different decision, your life would be completely different?

On that Thanksgiving day, Tony decided to take action. He devised a plan to give back, as that kind, mysterious stranger had done for his family.

Tony resolved right then and there to become successful enough to help others the way his neighbor helped him and his family.

So, for a future Thanksgiving, he saved just enough money to purchase groceries for a family that lived down the street that he knew struggled with money.

He dressed as a delivery boy and rang the doorbell excitedly. He planned to act as if someone else provided the groceries.

A woman opened the door, with two small boys peeking around her legs. She caught sight of the bags of food and immediately started crying and thanking him.

Tony still gets tears in his eyes to this day thinking about it.

The woman only spoke Spanish but kept repeating, “Thank you! Thank you!” Tony only spoke English and didn’t know what to say, so he said, “Feliz Navidad.”

The experience ignited something inside him—the power of giving.

This was the origin of his life’s goal to end hunger.

This act of kindness has evolved into a volunteer-run movement through The Tony Robbins Foundation, with over 1,500 Basket Brigades worldwide working to provide holiday meals to those in need.

More recently, Tony also provided over 948 million meals through the1 Billion Meals Challenge with Feeding America with a goal of 1 billion meals — ahead of schedule.

What we do controls everything. We are the creators of our lives.

And never forget: the secret to living is giving. Contribution is one of our deepest human and spiritual needs.

Life is about what you can give, not what you can get. You’ll get plenty if you give much more than you expect to receive.

At times, giving can feel overwhelming. What can I do? I’m just one person.

But you see, it always starts with one.

And like a domino effect, giving impacts one after the other.

Who could you give to this season?

How can you be the first in a beautiful line of dominos?

What small act of kindness could you show a stranger or loved one?

You never know what your giving could lead to.

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