Saturday, February 23, 2013

Help Yourself Heal: Do What You Love Now!

This post is dedicated to my good friend and colleague Michelle.

I drink the expensive wine now, says Dr. Susan Love, the well known surgeon and cancer researcher, after being treated for leukemia. Besides being a nationally recognized breast cancer researcher, Dr. Love, wrote the book  Live a Little!: Breaking the Rules Won’t Break Your Health . 

In discussing her book, co authored with Alice Domar, a Harvard Professor and senior staff psychologist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Love notes Is the goal to live forever? I would contend it’s not. It’s really to live as long as you can with the best quality of life you can. “ Her recommendation Relax, take a breather, and give up trying to follow the narrowly prescribed health “rules” that are constant sources of unhealthy stress and guilt. The key to being in good health in the absence of good data is to use your common sense, eat good food, move your body regularly, laugh, and love!

While Love wrote this book before her diagnosis, her message remains consistent. …none of us are going to get out of here alive, and we don’t know how much time we have. I say this to my daughter, whether it’s changing the world or having a good time, that we should do what we want to do. Susan Love’s Illness Gives New Focus to Her Cause 

There are lots of pop expressions around the idea of doing what you love-“Do What You Love the Money Will Follow,” “Follow Your Bliss,”  and “Leap and the net will appear.”  However, this post isn’t about bumper sticker expressions. Instead it’s thinking about the choices we make every day and picking the ones that bring us the most joy.

All too often our decisions-be it about jobs, food, health care choices and even who we socialize with and date/marry,  are made on what we think “we should be doing,” rather than actually what we want to do. According to Aristotle, “We are what we repeatedly do.”  So if you aren’t doing what you love, or you can’t find the love in what you do, what’s the message you are sending to yourself? Do you think that’s a healing force? Most likely not.

In July, I wrote a post called Super Better,  which described a game that can increases life expectancy by as much as ten years. Doing what you love was right up at the top of the “to-do” list.

I like to periodically talk things over with my friend Michelle, which is why I’m dedicating this post to her. When a decision seems pretty obvious to both of us, and yet I’m still a bit hesitant, she’ll say, “so what, do you need permission? If so, I’m giving you permission.”   With that thought in mind, if you need it, you have permission to do the things you love that bring joy to your life and the best opportunities for healing.


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  2. Thanks Margo. I have been mulling over our recent conversation. What is the difference between being grateful, feeling content, and experiencing joy? Are they the same? Can you be one without the others? More thinking to do. Michelle

  3. My favorite quotes on this topic come from Ben Franklin. Happiness consists more in the small conveniences of pleasures that occur every day, than in great pieces of good fortune that happen but seldom to a man in the course of his life.” He also wrote “Happiness depends more on the inward disposition of mind than on outward circumstances.” I wrote a post on this topic a year ago tomorrow. Check out Contentment is happiness