Between stimulus and response my brother-in-law Neil, diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease), chose to live in joy. He chose to connect with family and friends on a deep level. He chose to write his memoirs. He chose to laugh as much as he could and make others laugh too. He chose to start a charity that would help children in hospice, to study genealogy so he could connect with cousins he had not yet met, to let each of us know how much we meant to him, to make sure my sister, his devoted wife, would have a good life.
Neil inspired and delighted everyone he met until his last days on earth.
Neil taught me more than anyone else that you cannot always get what you want but you can make the best out of what you have.
Neil refused to be a victim. Neil was a Creator.
He was a creator long before ALS came into his life. He realized his dream of having a home with a beautiful garden and pool where he could happily entertain friends and family. After being diagnosed with congestive heart failure 13 years ago he retired and bought a home in beautiful retirement community on a lake. He walked, biked, swam, entertained, taught philosophy classes and met a million amazing friends. He always encouraged family and friends to come so they could share in his joy.
I look back at the times I have been a victim, the times I have let life stop me in my tracks. The times when I allowed other people or events to keep me from living fully and richly.
Do you know what a victim looks like?
Victims often have a worried, discouraged look on their faces. Their body language reflects that life is a burden and everyday is a struggle.
Victims make excuses.
Victims limit themselves.
Victims feel doomed.
Victims give up.
Victims are at the mercy of life. They allow life’s challenges to drag them along with the current.
Creators focus on the good.
Creators take personal responsibility.
Creators seek solutions.
Creators think big.
Creators expect the best.
Creators walk tall as they flow through life, looking for solutions, noticing goodness and beauty and wonderful opportunities everywhere. They make their way in life with intelligence, wisdom and creativity.
Times are tough. Many of us don’t have as much money as we used to. We are stressed with as we work more hours for less pay. Some of us don’t have jobs. We don’t have as much free time as we may like or as much time with our families.
If Neil could create a celebratory atmosphere even as he lost the use of every muscle in his body and was bed-ridden can we do any less?
So think about your situation today and ask yourself: What goals can I set for myself today? How can I think differently about my life? How can I transcend obstacles? What inspired actions can I take? How can I be more in the flow of life? How can I make everyday a masterpiece?
Brenda Strausz is a holistic psychotherapist who combines alternative modalities like Emotional Freedom Techniques and Hypnotherapy with Conventional Therapy. Her belief in the power of unconditional love and forgiveness guides her work. You can reach her at her website www.BrendaStrausz.com or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org or on facebook at Open to Joy.
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