“It’s sad that bad things have to happen in order for us to stop and look around.”
― Megan Duke
I know the meaning of that profound statement.
Had I not lived through a devastating health issue, I never would have believed that feeling happy affects your health. And there’s proof of that: scientific evidence suggests that positive emotions can not only lead to a healthier life, but a longer one.
The brain chemistry of joy – however minimal – brings us many positive health benefits, including a stronger immune system, less risk of heart disease and quicker recovery times after illness or surgery.
I’m not saying that singing a happy tune on your deathbed will change the outcome. What I am saying is that attitude is everything.
And I speak from experience: I have lived with the excruciating pain of scleroderma.
Walking Through the Dark Valleys of Deep Pain
During first few years of dealing with scleroderma, I was in so much physical pain that I needed two pain patches at all times just to be able to function on any level.
The results of these two patches was both good and bad. I describe these feelings in my book, Unstoppable: A Recipe for Success in Life and Business.
“Instead of focusing on the side effects, I shifted my focus and did daily gratitude lists.
Regardless of how horrible I felt, or the amount of pain I was experiencing, I made it a point to find something to appreciate every day.”
Instead of concentrating on my deep pain and misery, I began counting my blessings. The result? I began to feel a bit better each day. It was as if I was living the words “whatever you focus on grows.” It became how I not only survived – but thrived.
Weaving in Nuggets of Gratitude…Into Everything
In 2017 I flew to Chicago to Northwestern Medical Center to meet with a doctor who specialized in stem cell transplants, in hopes of putting the scleroderma in remission. I made it through a phone interview and a paper review.
The third step was to go in person. I endured three days of exhausting tests. I finally met the doctor who would approve – or deny- a stem cell transplant. I remember sitting alone in the exam room, wondering if I was going to be given the sentence of death – or life.
I was asked a myriad of questions in rapid succession.
Interwoven in my answers were nuggets of gratitude, blessings and reflections on the positive side of things.
The doctor stopped his questioning, looked up from the paper he was writing on, stared straight into my eyes and said, “With your attitude, this is going to be a joy to see how well you do.”
In that split second I knew two things:
- One, my attitude of gratitude revealed happiness which the doctor felt would be extremely advantageous for the outcome of this cutting edge, extremely dangerous treatment and…
- Two, I was committed to recovering from scleroderma.
My Gratitude Glowed from Within Me – and Saved Me
After reviewing all the tests, the doctor noted that after all my body had endured, my heart was growing weak. This would add risk.
Maybe I was not a great candidate. I had been sick for over 14 years. But my attitude that came from happiness about life – no matter how hard – had radiated in and around me.
“I would climb whatever hill I needed to, not give up, and fight like my life depended on it.
It did. I climbed – and I am still here.
Better, way better, than I was even in 2005.”
The secret – then and now – continues to be a joyful, happy attitude, gleaned from living in gratitude. Each and every day. I have chosen to always look for the blessings. And they are always there.
I never gave up. I fought because my life did depend on it.
And I focused on each and every blessing that flowed into my life. I know that you can, too. I’d like to share my story with you, hoping it will help you in your journey.
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