Saturday, March 1, 2014

The Positives of Having a Chronic Illness

Over the years, I’ve had many people comment that their illness/injury, or that of their family member or friend, turned out to be a gift. They generally start off by saying, “this may sound sick or weird, but...”

If you are recently diagnosed with a chronic condition, you may read this and quickly dismiss it as being a bunch of “Pollyanna B.S.” If you can stand to read a little more, below is a list of benefits that people have related to me or I’ve experienced myself. Please add your positives in the comment section or e-mail them to

• Being mindful and living in the present, not in fear of the future or dwelling on the past. When we settle into the present moment, we can see beauties and wonders right before our eyes—a newborn baby, the sun rising in the sky. Thich Nhat Hanh

• Being forced to slow down and “smell the roses.” “I get a lot more out of each day now.”

• “I never would have retired preferring to ‘die in the saddle’ so to speak. I had to stop working because I couldn’t do it anymore. It’s been wonderful. Our marriage is much stronger and I’ve been able to participate in activities with my kids and now grandchildren that I would have missed out on. I don’t like being sick, but I do appreciate the benefits.”

• “ I had to let go of what I thought my life was and accept what it is. It’s much better than I would have ever imagined.” We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us. Joseph Campbell

• Developing a better sense of priorities. “I stopped sweating the small stuff. Things that could make me crazy don’t bother me anymore. I know what’s really important now.”

• “People can live with out me, so I now take time to do what I love not what I think is expected of me. “

• “I eat better, exercise more and I actually feel better then I have in a long time.” A diagnosis can be an important wake up call to take better care of yourself.

• Learning who your true friends are. In terms of dating, it’s a “jerk barometer.” “If they reject you because of your diagnosis they most likely wouldn’t have been suitable in the first place.”

• It’s brought our family closer. Reconnected with family and friends

• Provides an opportunity to meet new people and for some new careers.

• “I now have a meaningful purpose in my life.”

• Talking to others with my condition has shown me that I don’t have it so bad.

• “The world outside my window has been a marvelous place to explore. I never knew what was there.”

• In her article 11Tips from 11 Years Sick, the author Toni Bernhard writes about an exercise where she wrote down the benefits of being sick. Four of her 12 reasons included: I don’t answer to an alarm clock; I’m never stuck in traffic; I have the perfect excuse to avoid events I don’t want to attend; my “To Do” list is very short. 

Make your own list. It may surprise you.

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