What My Mom's Journey with Cancer Taught Me about Dealing with Chronic Pain
When my mom's cancer advanced for the first time and she began chemotherapy, her oncologist told her that outside of medicine, exercise and a positive mindset were two things she could do for herself that could directly impact her health.
Having grown up in a "holistic" family, the concept didn't surprise me. What did surprise me was the fact that the words came from a world-renowned oncologist who was all about science-based practices. Was he really "prescribing" a positive mindset to help my mom manage cancer? He sure was... and my mom took every bit of that advice to heart.
My mom's incredible attitude
For the years that followed, she counted her blessings daily. She was grateful for the comfort of her home. She was grateful for the fact that my dad worked from home and was always close by to lend her a hand. And on the days she had energy to do normal tasks, she was grateful to shower and wash the dishes.
It was humbling to see her go through such struggle and stay so positive. It wasn't forced or fake. She was genuinely grateful for the blessings she found in the midst of her health decline. Perspective is what it offered. I don't believe anyone gets a "free ride" in life. Everyone has struggle.
I love the saying that if we were to all put our woes in a bag and have to reach back in for another, we would pray that we would get our own back. I 100% agree.
The impact for my endometriosis
Endometriosis is chronically painful and can be an emotional ride, to say the least. But it's important in the midst of it all to find what you can be grateful for. There's always something to be grateful.
Personally, I find that when I do focus more on gratitude, it trains my mind to look for the positive throughout my day. And that which you focus on gets bigger. So the more I focus on identifying the blessings in my life, the more I'll find. It won't take the physical pain away, but it can be a great distraction in the midst of pain.
Science agrees too - so it looks like it all comes full circle for the doctor's recommendation! - this study shows that a sense of gratitude “is a powerful and positive experience that can promote a happier life, whereas resentment is associated with life dissatisfaction".1
I guess it comes a clear decision, or question, in one of my favorite games... would you rather expand the gratitude in your life or create dissatisfaction?
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