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by Patty Morell Bilhartz, M.D., M.P.H.


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3 Lessons that You Can Learn from Illness (especially if it’s persistent)

  1. You are Human. Duh-duh, you say. But think about it. There is only one of you. No one else has your fingerprints. There is not another person on this earth that has your heart, your lungs, your brain, etc. Your physical uniqueness also means that you will experience certain illnesses at particular times unlike anyone else. Whether or when you get certain illnesses at times may be largely under your control. Other illnesses you may have little or no control over. More about that later.

But your health and how you feel shape how you live (and ultimately die) in your human body. So, illness defines your humanness and highlights your physical vulnerabilities. And, even though you are an amazingly unique human being, your vulnerability to illness bonds you with every other person on this earth. Thus, as we are unique from each other in our health experiences, we are also one with each other in our pain and incapacitation from these illnesses.
  1. We have a large measure of control over many illnesses. That control is what docs often refer to as lifestyle choices. Often, we want to blame our illnesses on our genes, our jobs, stress, etc. But, we can’t get off the hook that easily! Indeed, some illnesses are preventable, or we can at least lower our risks for getting them by making wise choices. Eating healthy foods, moving our bodies, disciplining our thoughts, getting enough sleep, and maintaining spiritual connections are healthy lifestyles that make a difference in our wellness.

Why is it that exercising our autonomy in selecting fabulous food, engaging in fantastic fitness, and opting for festive fun leads us to healthier and happier lives? Well, fabulous food including colorful fruits and vegetables nourishes our bodies, keeping our blood sugars stable and our arteries clean. Fantastic fitness where we joyfully move our bodies makes our muscles and bones strong, and keeps our moods and weight more optimal. Festive fun such as building strong bonds with others and connecting with a Higher Power lowers our unhealthy stress and keeps our immune systems strong. Regularly forgiving ourselves and others allows us to love ourselves and others to wellness.

Become proactive. Don’t delay. Today, begin to make the lifestyle changes that you know are important. Your heart will find healing and your health will be transformed, I promise!
  1. Some illnesses may not be under your control. Despite appropriate medical care, your best efforts, and healthy choices, you may find that sometimes your illness persists. Here is where you love yourself anyway. And, you look for the lesson in the illness.

Persistent illness can lead us to surrender–to a higher Power and Purpose beyond our illness–even in the midst of its raging symptoms. Maybe we learn something in the midst of our “storm” that will help someone else. Truly, our suffering can make us better for the world: more kind, compassionate, and loving. The world needs more humble servants than pompous know-it-alls anyway!

And, healing will always come. It may not be in the physical form, but mental, emotional and spiritual healings are frequently more amazing. Forgiveness and reconciliation are invaluable. And often, we find a peace that passes all understanding. Priceless.

3 Lessons to learn in the midst of illness:
  1. Allow the unique suffering that you are experiencing to connect you with the needs of others.
  2. Change what you can by loving yourself to wellness with wise lifestyle choices.
  3. And, in the midst of illness that seems to be unchangeable, be open to the lessons you can learn. It may not be easy. It may not be what you want. But, you’ll emerge a better soul, for sure!

What lessons have you learned during an illness?  We invite you to share with us so that we can become a stronger and more compassionate community.

Comments (1)

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    Yes! Finally someone writes about life.


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