Tony Melendez has no time for negativity. This armless musician and singer is too busy touring the nation to focus on his disability.
A “thalidomide baby,” Melendez, 44, was born without arms. His mother had taken thalidomide, which was prescribed to pregnant women to help treat morning sickness but caused a wide variety of serious birth defects. The drug was removed from the market in 1962.
As a child, Melendez was fitted with artificial arms. But at the age of 10, he disposed of them. “I didn’t feel comfortable,” he explains, “I could use my feet so much more.”
Using his toes to play guitar, Melendez, who lives in Branson, Missouri, has accrued legions of fans in the U.S. and abroad with his unique brand of contemporary Christian music. Melendez’s music, like his life, inspires hope.
“I believe in miracles,” says Melendez. “If you believe strongly that something will change, it will. It may not happen tomorrow, but somewhere down the line, it will.”
According to author Jeff Gee, a positive attitude is the foundation of success. In his book, The Winner’s Attitude (McGraw-Hill; $16.95), Gee explains that attitude will determine one’s level of success both professionally and personally. “If we have a great attitude about life, we can handle virtually anything that life throws at us,” he says.
In fact, Gee suggests that a positive attitude is the best way to combat the anger, frustration, and disappointment that most people feel daily. “Sure, life can be stressful,” he says. “You get up early in the morning, you sit through traffic to go to work, and then you find that there are 65 e-mails to answer at the office. But if you decide that you are an amazing human being who can do anything, then the traffic, the weather, and your work won’t bother you.”
There is no conclusive research indicating that people with positive attitudes excel, but an optimistic outlook encourages persistence and courage — both of which are requisites for success. A person with a positive attitude is more likely to achieve than one who is afraid to risk disappointment or who expects to fail. In addition, negativity can destroy one’s self-esteem and lead to illness.
While Melendez’s disability has proved inconvenient at times, he has never allowed it to hinder his success. He has released five studio albums and authored a book entitled A Gift of Hope (Harper & Row; $10). “I wish that I could have held my wife when we danced at our wedding reception, or wiped my kids’ tears with a finger,” he says. “But I do consider my [disability] to be a blessing.”
Methods for Maintaining a Positive Attitude
Choose your thoughts carefully. You have the power to control what you are thinking. According to Gee, you can be happy right now doing whatever it is that you are doing. It all comes down to changing the way you think.
Read something positive daily. If you are constantly reading about death and murder, your outlook could be influenced negatively. Try reading something positive for