I've got some inspirational thoughts for you that came about from a really trying, sick, year on my part. Making these shifts will change your life, as they have mine.
I am having a trying year. It is the beginning of May, and I have managed to get sick (like can’t-get-off-the-couch-with-this-fever, throat-killing, glands-swollen, cough-scarring-my-insides sick) four times thus far.
My sick leave has plunged to a dangerously sub-10 hour level after a distinct pattern of slipping into illness, being ill, regaining energy, feeling good for a week or two, and then slipping back into illness. The first time was normal, as I typically go through a 3-4 day period of the flu each year. The second time seemed coincidental, but I shrugged it off as my immune system unable to take on a different strand of bug or virus in its weakened state. By the third time I began seriously questioning my underlying health and contemplating whether or not my body had given up on me all together. The fourth time I felt numb and accepting of the idea that I may go in and out of sick cycles for the rest of my existence.
It’s been depressing and enlightening to say the least.
The depressing part is easy to explain, as anyone who has prolonged periods of illness can attest to its negative impact on quality of life and mood. Being sick is like being held in after-school detention on a warm spring day; it’s all about what I could be accomplishing, what I could be pursuing, what I could be fill in the blank.
Sickness being an enlightening process is the interesting part, and the lessons I have learned can be used for illness, financial circumstances, and life in general.
Inspirational Thoughts No. 1: ‘Why Me’ Thinking is Toxic
I am utterly convinced—having come out of a few “why me” sessions over the last few months—that this type of thinking can be paralyzing. To sit there and think negatively about your situation for a prolonged period of time will impair action, blow re-actions out of proportion, and make you ill.
It is completely natural to become discouraged, to have negative thoughts, and to entertain a few moments of playing the victim—and trust me, we’ve all been a victim at one time or another. But planting a negative seed and fostering its growth through continual negativity can suck the life out of you. In a very physical way, I figured out that when I allowed myself to plunge into this negativity for half a day or more, I literally felt sicker.
When I thought about all of the things I have to be thankful for, I stabilized. I am sure you can’t think yourself completely better, but I am equally sure that attitude plays a big role in the duration of illness or of any other situation in life.
Inspirational Thoughts No. 2: Avoid Over-Generalizing
It is so easy for me to over generalize by sweeping all of 2012 into the “bad year” category.
In fact, that is just what I did above! But the truth is life has ups and downs and oftentimes they intermingle. Even during the dips, there are nuggets of pure beauty and joy that perhaps I would not have known about or cherished as much if I had been well this whole time.
For example, being sick has afforded me the time to follow the saucy Nigella Lawson on her food shows—I’m a fan for life! We’ve been blessed this year with visiting family staying in our home either before or after I’ve been sick, so I have been able to fully enjoy their company. The weather has been mild and gorgeous, affording us many hours out in our backyard (heck, even the mosquitoes have held off until the last week or so).
Plus, I am just about finished with scrapbooking our pre-wedding/wedding/honeymoon era! That has brought me much joy.
Inspirational Thoughts No. 3: Negative Circumstances are Catalysts for Positive Changes
There are always things in life that take a back seat even though they are no less important than your current task. Perhaps it has taken me getting very ill to pay attention and make some necessary changes that otherwise would have continued to get lost in the torrent of work and mindless errands.
Spending many afternoons lying on a couch wondering “why” has motivated us to start taking food-based vitamins (the first time in our adult lives!), seek out and eradicate any mold issues in our home (i.e. the shower curtain), drink more water, and look into having our duct work cleaned and treated.
Inspirational Thoughts No. 4: Celebrate Everything Else that is Working
Around the third time the onslaught of illness crept in it felt tragic; I looked ahead over the next few days knowing that they would be spent watching the world spin by and that I could do nothing about it. During this period, I realized that life is such a delicate balance of many parts and even one of these parts swaying out of control can cause everything to lose that balance.
In other words, things working so seamlessly most of the time are more extraordinary than I ever thought before.
I suddenly was very thankful for the long periods of health, prosperity, and goodness that I have had. Just as I learned to stop over-generalizing, I also learned to celebrate what is working—the true miracle—rather than always fixating on the problems at the time.
Thankfully, the majority of people are not sick. But can we say that the majority of people are happy and accepting of their financial circumstances? Credit card debt, phrases like “keeping up with the Jones’” and reality television shows of the rich and famous mirroring the popularity of news segments suggest that many are not. I’m not going to pretend that I have been happy with my hand dealt these past few months. There have been many hours spent thinking, analyzing, and wondering what is going on with me.
However, I’ve worked to accept my circumstances and hope that others can do the same.