For all that was happening to him, his voice was strong and inviting, and his mind was vibrating with a million thoughts. He was intent on proving that the word "dying" was not synonymous with "useless." (2.48)
From the beginning of Morrie's sickness, he makes a choice to live a certain way. Even though he doesn't have a say in what happens to his body, he is determined to invest his mind and heart toward good things and make use of his final time on earth. This probably takes a sizable amount of mind over matter.
"Ted," he said, "when all this started, I asked myself, 'Am I going to withdraw from the world, like most people do, or am I going to live?' I decided I'm going to live—or at least try to live—the way I want, with dignity, with courage, with humor, with composure." (4.33)
Morrie explains his decision to be positive through his suffering. He admits that this wasn't easy and that he found himself at a crossroads where he could have decided one way or the other. He decides that he's going to be happy instead of scared and unhappy.
What had happened to me?
The eighties happened. The nineties happened. Death and sickness and getting fat and going bald happened. I traded lots of dreams for a bigger paycheck, and I never even realized I was doing it. (6.13-14)
During his first visit to Morrie's, Mitch is mentally recapping what he's done since he and Morrie last met. He's wondering how he got to where he is, and as he does, it seems as if life has kind of just slipped away. Mostly, he's failed to think through the choices he's been making about his life. Not good.
"Mitch, I don't allow myself any more self-pity than that. A little each morning, a few tears, and that's all." (9.13)
Morrie has to make the choice to be positive every single day. It's not easy. He wants to give in and be miserable every morning, but after allowing himself to be sad for a little while, picks himself up again and resolves to be happy.
This, for Morrie, was a blessing. He hated the place. He made another vow that he kept to the end of his life: he would never do any work that exploited someone else, and he would never allow himself to make money off the sweat of others. (12.31)
When Morrie is very young, he makes choices that affect the rest of his life, just like he does when he's sick. He comes from a poor background but makes the decision that he still has a say in what he does with his future. He's repulsed by the factory where his dad takes him to work and decides that he's not going to work in labor.
"Whenever people ask me about having children or not having children, I never tell them what to do," Morrie said now, looking at a photo of his oldest son. "I simply say, 'There is no experience like having children,' That's all. There's no substitute for it." (14.19)
Morrie says something important here: You can't make decisions for other people. He knows that the important things in life have to be decided on your own, so all that you can do is tell someone your own experience of having made a certain decision.
"[But by throwing yourself into these emotions,] you experience them fully and completely. You know what pain is. You know what love is. You know what grief is. And only then can you say, 'All right. I have experienced that emotion. I recognize that emotion. Now I need to detach from that emotion for a moment.'" (15.35)
Being self-aware is key to making choices. Morrie says that he's able to make choices about the way that he's going to feel, and that once he looks honestly at himself and accepts what he's going through, he's able to judge which decision will be the best for him.
But then I figured, Forget what the culture says. I have ignored the culture much of my life. I am not going to be ashamed. What's the big deal? (17.8)
Morrie is explaining to Mitch that he struggled with other people taking care of all his basic needs at first, but then he made a choice to forget what everyone says is the "normal" way of things. After he makes this choice, his day-to-day life gets a lot better.
His eyes widened. "Mitch, it was a most incredible feeling. The sensation of accepting what was happening, being at peace." (24.15)
Acceptance is an important type of choice. Morrie is describing a moment where he felt that he was actually dying and how he felt unbelievably peaceful when he accepted what was going on. He made the choice to accept rather than to fight, which would have made him anxious and afraid.
Mostly I want to tell that person to get on an airplane and visit a gentle old man in West Newton, Massachusetts, sooner rather than later, before that old man gets sick and loses his ability to dance. (27.2)
In his conclusion, Mitch is expressing his regret at not going to visit Morrie sooner. He's so thankful that he made the choice to be with Morrie in his final weeks, but recognizes that he should have made the choice sooner. Moral of the story: We can only benefit from making the right choices, and we never get anything out of procrastinating.