Christina Applegate’s 2012 Advice Rings True Today: ‘You Don’t Have the Luxury of Negative Thought’

Christina Applegate on the Best Advice She Ever Got

Read her powerful words on positive thinking.

At a time when we could all use a little inspiration, we’re looking back at Katie’s 2012 book, The Best Advice I Ever Got. In it, she examines her own experiences from the front lines of the worlds of politics, entertainment, sports, philanthropy, the arts, and business — and collects the ingenious, hard-won insights of countless leaders and visionaries. They tell us how to take risks, follow our passions, cope with criticism, and commit to something greater than ourselves. You’ll find thoughts from everyone from financial guru Suze Orman, to Steven Spielberg, to Salman Rushdie, to Maya Angelou.

Couric also reflects on the sage advice that has guided her, from her early days as a desk assistant at ABC to her groundbreaking role as the CBS Evening News‘ first female anchor.

Today, Christina Applegate’s advice from the book rings especially true: On the heels of her announcement that she has been battling multiple sclerosis for a few months, we’re looking back on the actress’ words about remaining positive in trying times, and we’re sending our support her way.

Christina Applegate:

You Don’t Have The Luxury of Negative Thought

It was March 11, 2005, 8 p.m. The orchestra had just finished the last note before the curtain was to rise on yet another preview performance of
Sweet Charity. I was in the wings awaiting my cue. I ran out to twirl around the lamppost and deliver my first line: “Ya ever have one of those days that was perfect?” I had done this now for a month, eight shows a week, and all without a hitch. But this night as I twirled, an uneven part of the stage caught my heel and I heard a horrible snap. At first there wasn’t any pain, and I continued to deliver my line and to prepare for the show’s opening song. But as the moments went on the pain became unbearable and I looked down and saw that my foot was broken.

There I was in front of 2500 people, with a broken foot and no way off the stage. It was a devastating blow. I was truly frightened. And all I could think was: I have ruined everything. We had been at this for months — working and rehearsing tirelessly as a cast that had truly become a family. We were one month away from opening on Broadway, in a show that was my dream come true. But now time stopped. We were faced with the fact that the show might not go on…After scrambling to get my understudy ready to take over the remaining preview shows, I had one task: to heal. But how? How could I do this? The bone was broken in half. And this was a show in which my character didn’t leave the stage for two hours. Not to mention it was dance-heavy. I needed that foot.

Besides going to many different doctors, most of whom said it was nearly
impossible for me to heal before opening night, I called the one person I knew who could help: my longtime friend and teacher, the Reverend Michael Beckwith. After a conversation filled with tears and incredible fear, he said this to me: “You do not have the luxury of negative thought.” Uhhh…OK. “How can I not have negative thoughts when doctors are telling me I can’t do this?” I asked. “And when we are faced with the fact that the show might be forced to close? And that my amazing castmates are about to lose their jobs? Jobs we have all put our hearts and souls into?” Once again he said, “You do not have the luxury of negative thought.” I had a job to do! Reverend Beckwith gave me the task of envisioning the bone healing faster than was humanly possible. Of playing over and over in my mind the doctor saying to me, “It’s a miracle!” And so I did. Every day I participated in the healing of that bone. I felt those negative thoughts coming through and told them to shove it! I kept my eye focused on the task at hand. I did not have the luxury of negative thought; of listening to the lies we so often tell ourselves; of being talked out of success by my fears. And within two weeks a doctor did say to me, “Wow, I have never seen a bone heal this quickly.”

To make a long story short, the show did indeed go on — with Tony
nominations and great success. It was the single most rewarding and
unforgettable experience of my life, and it changed me forever. Those same
words and the power they held would serve me again in 2008, during one of the most challenging periods in my life: when I was diagnosed with cancer. Again, I said to myself, “I do not have the luxury of negative thought! Not when I need to make the impossible oh-so-possible.” They are words I live by. And although I occasionally falter and my mind tries to convince me otherwise, it was those words that helped fuse a bone together at record speed. So believe me, this s*** works.

EXTRAORDINARY LIVES by Katie Couric, copyright © 2011, 2012 by Katherine Couric. Used by permission of Random House, an imprint and division of Penguin Random House LLC. All rights reserved.