I am writing this article sitting in my home having missed my second day of work in a row due to being sick. This is a big deal because since opening my practice in 2000 (that is 16 years ago) I had only missed one half of a day sick prior to this week.
Save for a couple of serious illnesses as a child this is the ‘sickest’ I can ever remember being. Up until a few hours ago there would have been no way I could have written this article because I could neither drag myself off of the couch nor think straight. The strange thing about this experience is that while I am annoyed about missing work and disappointed that I allowed myself to become vulnerable to the illness, I am actually grateful and know it will have a lasting positive impact on my life and health.
Why would anybody feel gratitude towards being so sick they thought they were going to die (not really, but it sure felt like it)?
The first reason is that this sickness has me completely motivated to make some positive changes in my lifestyle. This requires the individual to not see themselves as the victim for being sick. This is rare in our society and that is too bad. I recently wrote an article about how to stay healthy over the holidays and while I generally followed my own advice (continued doing the good, healthy stuff) I went a bit too far with late nights and unhealthy food and drink. I tempted fate and I got burned.
The positive spin on this was that I was planning on changing some things regarding my health in the New Year. After the experience of the last few days there is now no way I will not make it happen. On the other hand, had I perceived this illness as bad luck caused by germ A or virus B there would be less impetus to change. Pain is a wonderful motivator and if you are going to experience it you might as well use it.
The second thing I am grateful for is that it gave me the opportunity to do absolutely NOTHING. In fact it forced me to do nothing as I could barely read, let alone move.
I live a lifestyle that moves pretty fast – work, seminars, coaching, and two kids in multiple sports. We take vacations but even then we are either doing activities or I am plowing through books I don’t have time to read the rest of the year.
The last couple of days I spent most of my time doing nothing. Just lying in my bed or on the couch. While it isn’t fun to feel like crap you learn a lot when you literally cannot do anything. Without actively pursuing that line of thinking I became much clearer on what I wanted my life to look and feel like and I am much more motivated to get going on that life.
It was also kind of nice to sit on the couch with my family watching a crappy movie without thinking about all the stuff I have to do – and that NEVER happens in my normal life.
Being sick is not fun but it can provide you with value when it occurs. If you don’t see yourself as a victim you can take the experience and turn it into something great. This idea of taking the experience of pain and turning it into progress can be the greatest concept to embrace in making 2016 the best year of your life. I will be expanding on that idea in the next article.
Happy New Year!