What a Wheelchair Wheelie Taught me about Attitude.

Live with expectancy instead of expectation that’s the challenge I give in almost every presentation I make.  Smile and the world smiles with you!   Happy face, Happy place.  I write about it!  I challenge other people to live it!    But in a split second I can slip into the same old patterns I so badly want to shed.  
I was waiting to board my plane and once again the flight was late.  I decided to keep a positive attitude about the whole thing.  I purposely engaged the people around me in conversation. I  tried hard to not allow circumstances to taint my attitude negatively affect the experience of people around me. I even thanked the security personnel for the pat down. That….. is a miracle!   I was very proud of myself.  If I could have reached it, I would have given myself a congratulatory pat on the back.  I was doing pretty good.

Finally they announced that the flight would be on it’s way.   People who needed a little extra time to get down the jetway boarded before us.   The last in this group was a pretty young woman in a wheel chair with an effervescent personality.  When the agent asked if she could make it down the jetway on her own she answered with an emphatic yes,  did a  wheelie with her chair and disappeared into the jet-way.   I boarded a few minutes later.  I had carefully chosen my seat on this very cramped small plane.  Bulk head seat on the aisle. This was where I would have the most leg room and could get a lot of work done.

But alas! Someone was in my seat.  My brow furrowed.  So much for happy face happy place.  Before I could speak a fight attendant addressed me.  “Would you kindly take the window seat she asked.  But this is my seat, I thought, digging for the piece of paper that would prove it.  The flight attendant lowered her voice, ” this young lady prefers an aisle seat,” she said, gesturing toward the person in my seat.  Since when, I wondered are people allowed to sit where they prefer to sit rather than where they were assigned to sit.  I said nothing but I’m sure that my face communicated the inconvenience and displeasure I felt.

As I huffed my way past the passenger sitting in my isle seat I saw for the first time that she was the spirited young lady who had done the wheelie on the way to the airplane.  Surely she had seen my ugly face,  but she smiled and apologized.  I assured her it was I who needed to apologize.  During this flight we had a wonderful conversation.  We talked about attitude and how if affects our life.

I found out her name was Joannah and at seventeen she had been in an accident that injured her spinal cord. She has been  paralyzed from the waste down ever since.  With a smile that lit up the cabin she told me she was on her way  to Japan alone to do research for her dissertation on Ancient Japanese art and literature.

She asked what I did for a living.  I sheepishly admitted that I spread good news and laughter around the world but today I was waiting for my face to get the memo.  We laughed and chatted the entire flight.  As I drove home, I thanked God for health and for the opportunity to meet this vivacious and courageous women.  I prayed that God would continue to help me live with the kind of grateful attitude and a daily sense of adventure Joannah demonstrated that day.  Meeting her reminded me…..

  • Live joyfully even in difficult circumstances.
  • Let your light (and face) shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
  • When someone asks if you can handle it, do a wheelie.

That’s what I want.  A wheelie attitude.

Thanks Joannah!

Am I the only one that can loose my grip on a good attitude in a heartbeat?   Who have you met that inspired you with a “Wheelie Attitude”


  1. Yet again, you admit to an occasional slip that makes you a human being. I applaud you showing non disabled people that disabled people can have a great “Wheelie” attitude and aren’t to be pitied. I also applaud you for reminding ME that my attitude slips as well because of the wheelchair I’m in and other reasons. Thanks, Ken. *Does a Wheelie*

  2. The first thing I noticed was that although Joannah is in a wheelchair she is not handicapped or disabled. She is doing exactly what God called her to do.
    It’s comforting to hear that I’m not the only one who loses his good attitude in a heartbeat. it’s even more comforting to know that God never loses his good attitude,nor, does he ever stop loving me.

    Yesterday I spent all day with a group of sportspeople who challenged me to have a wheelie attitude (some who literally performed wheelies). Hanging around these great friends reminded me that God wants me to enjoy my life and that he still wants me to bring joy and laughter to others.

    1. Author


      You are in my new book and I can’t wait till it is done so I can send you a copy. You are and inspiration.


  3. Love Ken Davis!!!! I have a son in a wheelchair and I needed this for every day. Just makes me float to be encouraged like this.

  4. Thanks Ken for the post. I’m working on my face and heart matching up. I guess it already does, so I should work on my heart to reflect Jesus’.

    I had a long reminder of this. When I made a new driver’s license, the attendant made a mistake on the first one. She had to start all over. By the time she took my picture the second time, my beautiful “Jesus loves you smile”, turned into a “Jesus wishes you would hurry” glare. My face matched my heart, UGLY!

    I had to carry that reminder with me for two years, before I lost it. I try to be more patient so I may have an opportunity to share the hope in me. I’m a work in progress.

  5. Love this post. Always good to be reminded that we are human and fail in our best intentions, but also that we need to stop and assess a situation before reacting. In my experience working in a doctors office “handicapped” people are the least handicapped of all. Most I have met are the kindest, gentlest souls around. They all have something to teach the world. Thanks for sharing Joannah’s message with us.

  6. I thought anyone who owned a computer can lose their grip on their good attitude in a heartbeat. Isn’t that why we buy them, so we can be tested?… maybe it’s just me… get behind me satan…

  7. I have a teacher friend who is going through chemo to kill her triple negative breast cancer. She is only two treatments away until she is finished. She wasn’t able to have chemo today because her blood count was at zero. I asked her if she was disappointed, and she said she was feeling good, still enjoying her job of teaching first graders, has her friends and family who are praying for her, and said there are others out there who are off much worse than she is. WOW…what a GREAT attitude!! She was my “wheelie attitude” experience today. 🙂

  8. Hi,
    Thanks for that great story! My family went to church one day and couple of friends of ours brought a teenage ethiopian boy to church, he had fallen in front of a train a few years before we met him and he was missing one of his arms and both his legs were cut off above the knees and we were thinking that he was gonna be a unhappy young man and he was the exact opposite of what we assumed. We got to know him better over the next few years and he was honestly one of the happiest people I’ve ever met. He hated any form of pity or favoritism. He now lives in America, happy as can be, playing wheelchair basketball. Thanks, Jarrad

  9. Ken – I find this to be the case SO often. I make my mind up to be positive and then something happens that sideswipes me entirely! I have Borderline Personality Disorder and I find that positive can go to negative in a matter of seconds. Unfortunately for me that can have disastrous consequences. So yes! I am focusing on cultivating a joyful attitude and I find that the best way to achieve that is to look at the situation and as God – what is the most helpful way to view this situation/thought/feeling? It really challenges me to find the positive in even the darkest places! I am so glad to have finally thought to Google you! I have been laughing at (or should I say ‘with’) you since the showed A Twisted Mind at a youth group meeting I attended back in 1990! And tomorrow night I will FINALLY hae the priviledge of watching you live in Shellharbour for the very first time! It’s great to have you down under – don’t be a stranger!

    1. Hey there Ken – just wanted to update my website on your system – had no idea how else to do it? I CAN’T WAIT TO SEE YOU TONIGHT!

  10. Hey Mr Ken! This is Amanda from Prattville, AL (Glenn Graham’s daughter). This doesn’t really have anything to do with your blog but I wanted to tell you that Patrick and I are expecting our first baby! 🙂 You have been so inspiring to me over the years and I want you to know how much our family loves you! I pray God will continue blessing you, your family and your ministry! <3

  11. Ken,
    Thank you for your honesty woven together with your sense of humor. It’s helped free me up to receive God’s wonderful grace!
    I recently left my apartment a little late for church, but feeling good. I soon found myself behind a snail, and before I knew it, I was grimacing, and flashing my lights, trying to get the driver to qicken her pace. Didn’t she know that I might not get a good parking space if I didn’t get there PRONTO? At church, God met me as I sat in the pew. He wasn’t mad at me, he just wanted to gently remind that me I could trust him to work out all of the details in my life without trying to make things turn out my way. ( I am reminded of the verse, “His kindness leads us to repentance..”)

  12. Ken, this reminds me to continue to what I am doing when I am facing someone who is “challenged.” They are not the “challenged,” we are. I know growing up no one ever told me of “those” people who have “special” needs, but the best job I had and loved so much, was working in a 16 bed facility with individuals with developmental disabilities. They taught me so much about my attitude towards life. To this day I am so jealous of individuals with Down’s syndrom… I wish I could be so flexable at my age, they never loose that ablity as they age. It is always a great reminder that no matter what your age and ability, you can laugh at things and play is an important part of life. I thank God everyday for giving me the opportunity for allowing me to be part of the lives of these individuals. Although they had “behaviors” their good time is what I remember. Thanks Ken for reminding me that no matter who the person is, they are a person.

  13. Great story Ken, thanks for sharing it. It is a good reminder to look around and appreciate all the good in our lives. I will be using my happy face on purpose today thanks to you!

  14. I sure need these kinds of reminders when I am tempted to forget to send the memo to MY face! I really appreciate your openness about sharing your foibles. It reminds us all that we are not alone!

  15. Thanks for this wake up lesson. The majority of my life I am a positive and upbeat person, looking at the glass half full, and full of encouragement…but this week I am in the slumps. I am putting on the smiley face but my spirit is sad. There is a family member attempting to make the biggest mistake of her life and I was given another bomb regarding my existing career. Both of these are putting me before the throne of grace in prayer and song, and tears. I needed this blog to read to know I am still not alone and that God is coming through and will answer and get all the glory, honor and praise.

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