My brother had a stroke a few weeks ago. It left him partially paralyzed and with some mental impairment. I just found out that my son-in-law has pancreatic cancer that has metastasized to his liver. Our oldest grandson was killed in a motorcycle accident two years ago. I hear stories like this on a daily basis about so many other people. Why must there be so much sorrow? I know for every sad story there is one with a happy ending so that is good. Still, as an amateur philosopher (it gives me a perspective that makes meeting trouble with equanimity easier) I want to know the why. As a Christian it is easy to say that it is God’s will. As a historian, when I study the history of the Jewish people, I call it the Cain and Able Syndrome, meaning that man’s inhumanity to man has been going on since the first part of recorded time so why should it stop now?
There is still that part of life where we can’t find all the answers for the illnesses: cancer, diabetes, strokes, heart failure etc. What is the reason for it all? So, we tell ourselves we will take better care of our bodies. We will exercise, use good nutritional habits, follow preventive medicine techniques, get lots of sleep, drink eight glasses of water a day, eat an apple a day (it keeps the doctor away is what my mom told me), lose weight, don’t smoke and so on. But even if we followed every health rule there was there is always that heart ache that comes when we least expect it that has nothing to do with taking care of the health of our bodies but has more to do with our family histories. We dread thinking about war, poverty, rape and other acts of violence.
We lose a job, our best friend dies; a grandparent becomes paralyzed; we lose our home to poor economy and on and on and on. Is there no end to this devilishness? My daughter asked me why, with five siblings that I had, one had breast cancer, one had lung cancer, one died in a car accident and one recently had a debilitating stroke, why have I (so far) been spared. While I knock on wood as I respond I tell her that I do Transcendental Meditation every day and when I am finished, I close my eyes and picture a white light slowly traveling through each part of my body bringing it wellness and positive energy. I tell God, not to take me yet, I have too much to do, more Lamplighter Chapters to start, more children to help, more books to publish. He listens and grants me more time.
I follow good health rules. I’m generally an optimist but sometimes I mess up. I dumped my orange juice on the carpet this morning by mistake. It caused me to use some bad words as I mopped up the sorry mess until I looked up and saw my Golden Retriever, Guinevere, who hates any kind of bad words, hiding between the bars on the stairway, her teeth clenched tightly on her favorite toy and a sad and frightened look on her face. I stopped the bad words immediately and gave her hugs and kisses in atonement. She has more sense than I do.
I have a purpose in life. I am loved and I love. I have the world’s most wonderful family. I have a host of dear, dear friends. I am blessed beyond belief. I have been through horrible pain and sorrow; no incest survivor hasn’t. But I went through recovery. I REPAIRED the damage and today I can read the newspapers or listen to the news and hear the sad tragedies that besiege the world and stop my busy day for a moment. I say a prayer for those who have just stepped into a minefield and fall back on platitudes, dull or insipid as they may be: Ours is not to reason why, Every cloud has a silver lining, Think positive, You’ll get through it, Things will get easier, I feel your pain, Live and let live, Into each life a little rain must fall…………..the list goes on forever.
Shawn Achor, the renowned psychologist who has done research into happiness, shows that success does not lead to happiness. Instead, happiness leads to success! So true. Thank you Shawn.
My philosophy about all of this is that facing challenges is a part of the character development that we all need. No one escapes it but the wise person is prepared. Change the philosophy you hold so dear, and make sure it contains many good things. Like the best meal prepared in the world you must have good ingredients. My recommendations for a few are:
· Keep a positive attitude.
· Watch HALT, Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired. If any of these are present in your life take care of them immediately and you will find your emotional well-being increase to a happier state.
· Things always look better after a good night’s sleep.
· Don’t hold grudges or bear enmity.
· There are always two sides to every story.
· Take your mind off a problem with a good book, a good movie, a walk, a conversation with a dear friend or a few prayers.
· Turn things over to God on a regular basis.
· Have a problem resolution attitude.
· Try a bit of humility; it can be so soothing.
· If you were abused as a child, get a copy of REPAIR Your Life and begin working the program. You can find information on it at http://www.thelamplighters.org/llblog01/repair-your-life/
Get started! What have you got to lose?