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Thursday, January 23, 2014

Living with Chronic Illness

Feeling invincible and having the world by the tail is a wonderful thing. That sense of vitality and control over one's life can be stripped away in an instant with one sentence from your physician, "You have a condition called ......... There is no known cure, but you can live a normal lifespan with proper management."

Chronic illness can make or break a person. It can change the entire dynamics of a family. No one knows how strong they are until they have to be. It is a fact that a sour attitude and disposition can not only be a drain on one's own immune system, but that of an entire household if that home is filled with the black cloud of negative energy.

There is no denying that illness is a pain in the touche. But by damned if you need to let it become you. Don't let yourself sink into the mentality that "life sucks".
Having a condition does suck, but life doesn't have to.
The wisdom behind these quotes are true for everyone, not just those with physical or mental challenges or illness.

1. It's the little things, the little everyday achievements. It can be a good day, Get up, get with it, do what has to be done and go with the flow. Do not obsess on the negative. The cup really is half full.

2. You may not be able to change a person or a situation, but you can change your attitude towards that person or situation. There are always people who will never understand. There is no way they can unless they walk in your shoes. Especially if you have to hear "but you don't look sick". Embrace the wisdom behind the Serenity Prayer.

 3. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. The Golden Rule exists in most all cultures. Treating others with respect and kindness is just the moral, ethical thing to do. If you get disgusted with people just remember, how people treat others is a reflection on how they feel about themselves, it is nothing personal towards he or she at the brunt of that negativity.

4. Don't lose your smile. Have a sense of humor. Not everyone is the laugh out loud bubbly type but having a wry sense of humor that only comes from someone with a chronic illness is not the same as having a sour attitude.

5. Don't become a bitter person. You may have a condition, but don't let the condition define you. It may limit you, it may shape your attitude being such a pain in the ass, but it is not who you are.

6. Don't focus on the past. To obsess over activities once enjoyable but of which you are no longer capable is a sure ticket for depression.

7. Today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday. Live in the moment, since in reality what else is there. Prepare for the future in terms of having your finances in order, have a living will, a financial and medical power of attorney, and a will so your love ones know your final wishes. Then file away all that paperwork and start living.

8. Use it or lose it. It is a proven fact that those who exercise their mind and body live longer. It isn't just maintaining flexibility and strength in your limbs. You need good cardiovascular circulation and oxygen exchange to keep your organs functioning at their best. Believe in the whole mind/body connection attitude towards your health. Don't become a list of diagnosis codes as if each is a problem all by itself. Move, meditate, breathe.

9. Don't lose your vitality.  The opposite of depression isn't happiness, but vitality. Ask yourself, "Will someone else's life be brighter tomorrow because of what you have done today?" By William Arthur Ward
Having a sense of purpose is the key to fulfillment and a reason to get up in the morning. That sense of purpose is often at risk after retirement once we no longer can describe ourselves with a job title. That sense of purpose is often at risk once we experience limitations due to failing health.
Once away from the action of the workplace, it is easy to feel forgotten and alone. Don't let this happen to you. Get involved in another direction. Rediscover who you are and interests that got put on the back burner over the years.

10. "Today is life - the only life you are sure of. Make the most of today. Get interested in something. Shake yourself awake. Develop a hobby. Let the winds of enthusiasm sweep through you. Live today with gusto." by Dale Carnegie

Boredom should not exist. There is just too much to do in this life.
Think about each of the eight things listed below. As a child, our educations focused too much on literacy and not enough on our whole person. Happiness isn't something down the road that will come to us if we work harder, or when we have more free time, or more money. Develop these areas and you'll understand that the definition of happiness is contentment.

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