Recently, I cared for a patient who was facing some very serious and life-threatening health challenges. The patient was smack dab in the middle of a fierce fight with cancer that had metastasized to her lymph nodes. Her prognosis was very poor and yet, she was still so very positive, happy and gracious.
I’ve met several other patients like this in the past, when the chips were so stacked against them, yet they remained happy and thankful. Even with certain death right around the corner, I’ve seen people focus on their joy and not allow their illness to dictate what their life means to them.
I wonder why some can navigate these health challenges with such grace and joy, while so many others become consumed with anger, sorrow, denial, and guilt. I’m sure you know, have known, or will know somebody who lives in constant state of negativity. When these people get sick, they often focus on the bad, rather than making the most of what time they DO have.
Look, any of us can get sick, things happen. Sure we can make lifestyle choices that will give us the best possible chance at good health, but tomorrow is still not promised. We can’t control the things that happen to us in life, but we can certainly control what they mean to us.
The patient that I first started telling you about shared with me that for many years, long before she got sick, she had treated every single day like it was her last. She didn’t know if she would be here in 6 months, 6 weeks, or even 6 days, so she lived like everyday was her last. She told me that even though her illness is terrifying, painful, and most likely going to kill her very soon, she wasn’t going to let it define her and she would end her life with the same dignity she lived her previous days.
She focused on love, joy, family, and faith. To her, cancer did not mean death and ultimate pain, it meant living the most each day she is here and giving every ounce of love that she can to the world around her. That’s a pretty beautiful way of looking at things.
And honestly, I think this really applies to all areas of our life, not just our health. We’ve all got to approach each and every day like it is our last. Make the most out of it. If you have been waiting around to do something, stop waiting! Make today the day that you start writing that song, or climbing that mountain, or telling that special someone you love them.
When you get bad news, or face some health challenges, realize that you have control of what meaning you assign it. Just like the patient I was telling you about, you can still find significance.
Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide what meaning you assign to everything that happens to you in life. You can choose to look on the bright or dark side of any situation. The meaning you choose is entirely up to you.