Living with a chronic condition often causes us to ask a lot of questions that we haven’t really thought about before. The most obvious one is: “Why me?” Others might include “What’s really important in my life?” and “How do I find a greater sense of purpose beyond what I am experiencing day to day?”
These questions might be referred to as questions of meaning. And here are some ideas for finding more meaning in your life:
Go into yourself. Meditation, contemplation, prayer. Take some time each day to nurture your spirit. You may do this through meditation, sitting in a quiet place and simply counting your breaths. Or going off by yourself and contemplating the events of the day. Communicating with your Higher Power through prayer, expressing appreciation and seeking guidance. Listen to that “still, small voice” inside of you.
Connect. Spend time with people you care about, who can listen, who care share the hard times and celebrate the good times. When we spend time with others, we are reminded of the bigger picture of life, that other people are also living with challenges. You are not alone.
And give. Reach out to someone who can use some support, be a listening ear, share some words of encouragement. Volunteer and share your skills and talents. When you give of yourself, you are a blessing to the other person. Feel the boomerang effect as the blessing comes back to you.
Get inspired. Spend time with an inspiration book. Choose an author who speaks to you in some way. Keep planting those seeds of positive intention by reading a little bit every day, even if only a few paragraphs. Inspirational authors often make available video clips that you can watch online. Exposing yourself to inspirational thought can be a great way to begin, or end, your day.
Enjoy. Stay involved with activities that you can participate in and that give you joy. And add some new ones as well. Hobbies to enjoy on your own, as well as the things you do for and with people you care about. Get outdoors when you can and commune with nature. Have a good laugh.
Be mindful. Someone once said to me, “On the day I received my diagnosis, I listened to my favorite music and I felt like I was hearing it as I had never heard it before.” Practice being in the present moment, and not caught up in rehashing the past or worrying about the future. Be aware of the pleasures and the possibilities that exist all around you. Watch. Listen. Right now.
Say thank you. Take a moment at the beginning of each day to identify something you are grateful for, as simple as your morning coffee, a sunshiny day, the sound of your children playing in the backyard. Attitude of gratitude.
Give up! The need to always be in charge. One of the greatest lessons of chronic conditions is that we are not in control of every single aspect of our lives. As it says in the Serenity Prayer, “the serenity to accept the things I cannot change…” Use the changes that come your way as an opportunity to step out of your comfort zone and grow.
Life is a journey. Ups and downs, twists and turns. Each day gives us a new opportunity to have a more meaningful life. To find meaning. To create meaning. So seize the day!