Happy Despite Cancer

Being grateful for the little things

Most folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be. Period. – Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln was right on this one.

As I drove my friend to her weekly cancer treatment, I heard her saying several times how grateful she is for the experience she lived and how blessed she feels to be healthy after the tumor removal. She is learning new skills in the middle of her suffering.

She was not focusing on her 12-inch incision or the pain of not being able to sit or walk well. Her focus was on the blessing of having state of the art science and medical experience available.

It’s Up to You

As I listen to her thought process, I realized how our choices facing life’s challenges could define our happiness level and mental health, no matter what we are going through. 

Since May, she has been on a rollercoaster, with lots of doctor appointments, exams, pre and post-surgery treatments, and lots of medication. Nevertheless, she feels ultimately happy. She found a happiness strategy that works for her.

The Paradox

Slowing down and focusing on the present instead of always having our minds on the next thing help us be more centered. Words of wisdom, such as “living in the moment” or “being present,” may sound like cliches; nevertheless, I have seen and experienced their successful results.

We have so many demands from our day-to-day activities inflated by the wealth of technology around this; essentially, our personal life can be easily turned into a rollercoaster with endless to-do lists and events.

People believe multitasking can help us accomplish things faster, but is that true? 

Our Dilemma

In my previous blog, The Social Dilemma, I mention how it became harder to have undivided attention even when watching TV. We defeat the purpose of relaxing in front of the big screen and diminish the opportunity to turn off our brains for a few minutes.

My friend took the time to rethink her life and focus even more on her health. She prioritized the important things and left behind what was urgent. She learned how fragile her life is and how quickly her health can become jeopardized.

But how can the present moment make one happy when going through weekly cancer treatments? The same works for us lupies, facing uncertainty and the reality of how we cannot control our bodies.

Here are some ideas:

  • Invest in good relationships, the ones where you give and receive love!
  • Start eating more healthy and clean; it will make you feel better and stronger
  • Go for a daily walk, and if you can, include an exercise routine

Besides that, she learned to calm her mind with breathing technics and spiritual practice. She consciously pays attention to patterns of behavior and little things that could disturb her peace of mind. 

By identifying the negative triggers, she is learning every day how to control and replace them with different ones that focus on essential. Three steps: 

  • identify the negative thought, 
  • get in control of your emotion,
  • replace negative thinking with a pleasant one.

It will take you a few minutes but will leave a long-lasting sweet flavor.

Happiness is Priceless

Buying material things like clothes, expensive shoes can make us momentarily happier. The expectation, experience, and excitement are all factors that can drive happy hormones into our brains. But they don’t last. It’s like a quick fix. 

I am learning through her eyes that happiness lives on small things. Tiny everyday blessings that we should be grateful for can be easily missed if we don’t pay attention. We need to show passion for our life, and gratitude is the way. 

Yours truly,

Hope

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