Posts Tagged ‘energy’

What small New Year’s Resolution Can You Make To Improve Your Life?

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

Those of us who have chronic illnesses usually want to change our lives in major ways. We want our pain to go away, we want to be able to eat a normal diet, and we want the fatigue to go away so that we have all the energy we used to have. In short, we want all of our symptoms to go away so can have the quality of life we had before we became ill.

Most people with chronic illnesses spend a lot of time thinking about all those changes we want, which is completely understandable since so many of us have symptoms that are very painful and difficult to live with.

But in doing that, we can-and often do-overlook the many small things we can do to improve the quality of our lives. And some of those small things can result in big improvements.

One experiment I’ve read about that was carried out many years ago made me realize the difference small things can make. Researchers Ellen Langer and Judith Rodin divided the residents of a nursing home into two groups, and introduced very small changes  into the lives of those in the experimental group. They were given the option of seeing a weekly movie and a choice of two nights on which to see it. They were given the choice about whether to see visitors in their rooms, the lounge, or outside, and they were given the responsibility of taking care of a houseplant. Only one change was introduced into the lives of those in the control group: they too were given houseplants, but they were told that nursing home staff people would take care of them.

The difference in the quality of life between the experimental group and the control group was dramatic. Those in the former were much happier, and their mortality rate for the 18 months following the experiment was half that of the other group.

The results of that experiment don’t mean you should stop wanting your illness to go into remission, but they do demonstrate that small changes can lead to big improvements.

Since the new year is only a few days away, I will leave you with this question: what small New Year’s Resolution do you want to make – and keep?

Finding a balance – with love, and seeing the Dalai Lama

Friday, April 24th, 2009

I recently coached a woman – I’ll call her Donna – who was doing pretty well managing her chronic illness. But she was having some troubling symptoms and was afraid they would get worse. At the same time, she was building a business, and like all of us, she needed to earn a living. She was torn between whether she should give her time, energy, and love to her health or to her business.

If you face a similar dilemma, you may want to consider what I said to Donna. I told her that I thought she should give her time, energy, and love to the part of herself that was torn and trying to decide what to give her time, energy, and love to. It was clear to me that that part of Donna had the biggest immediate need for those things, but was getting little if any of them. I knew that once she gave that part of herself the time, energy, and love it needed that she would be in a much better place to make decisions about finding the right balance in those other areas of her life.

On another note, today was a very special and memorable day because I got to see the Dalai Lama. Like many of you, I’ve admired him for a long time. So when tickets went on sale last December for a talk he was giving at the University of California at Santa Barbara, I immediately bought two. It was a good thing that I acted quickly, because they sold out in two hours.

The talk was at 9:30 this morning. We were supposed to be there two hours early, since everyone was going to be scanned before they were allowed into the arena. That meant getting up at 6:00 – a challenge for me, since I’m not an early riser. But it was definitely worth it. I really enjoyed hearing him talk. He spoke about the nature of the mind, a subject that I find fascinating. His wisdom, humor, and compassion were obvious, in spite of the fact that his English was sometimes hard to understand (he gave about half the talk in Tibetan, which an interpreter translated for us). As I said, it was a very special and memorable day.