“If all our misfortunes were laid in one common heap whence everyone must take an equal portion, most people would be contented to take their own”. – Socrates
How do you overcome negative thoughts? Do you dispel them quickly, or do you slide into a pit of despair and wallow there for a while when things are tough or nothing goes right?
In a recent post about cabin fever, I wrote how the short days, lack of sunlight and cold weather in the Northern Hemisphere winter can affect us negatively and cause depression.
This winter has been one of the longest and coldest, with more snow, than for many years in both North America and Europe. In our part of Canada this week, we have had 3 days of heavy rain, with temperatures hovering around freezing. Yesterday we experienced strong winds and the rain started freezing as it reached ground level. Concerned about a basement with 100mm (4″) of water floating my fire wood stocks away like trees in the Amazon, power lines, fences and barns buckling under the weight of the ice it would be easy to start feeling miserable.
Luckily, unlike thousands of others, our power lines and electricity supply have survived. Our fences are still standing, the barns are intact apart from a few flapping roof sheets, there is enough dry wood in the basement to get through another week and the temperature has just crept over the freezing mark so the ice will melt.
As bad as things sometimes seem, we don’t have to look far to find others in far worse situations. This week I had to visit the major cancer treatment centre in our area for routine skin cancer treatment. (The penalty of a fair skin, a life under the tropical sun and boomer generation ignorance of the effects of the sun.) The procedure has changed to require a three-hour wait between the initial and subsequent treatment.
While waiting, I got talking to several other patients or members of their families. That made me realise how fortunate I am to only have skin cancer which although irritating, is unlikely to shorten or affect my life.
One elderly woman told me about her daughter in law who as a result of a rare medical condition as a child, had been told that she would not live to adulthood. Not only did she survive, but she married and had two children. Complications from the condition, resulted in the amputation of both her lower legs. Now at age 50 her hands are almost completely paralysed.
Despite all that, she raised her two children, often on her own for lengthy periods while her husband was away because of his job. She drives a car modified for hand operation, plays soccer and counsels others suffering from debilitating illness or injury.
Another man, many years younger than my 62 years, waiting for radiation therapy. He had lost all his hair, spoke with difficulty and seemed to be in pain, but was still cheerful and joked with his wife.
Many other cancer patients and their families coming and going during the three hours. Some in wheelchairs, many hairless, some young, many old, an army of friends, relatives and volunteers supporting them. A frightening testimony that despite all the advances in medical science, we still cannot cure or prevent most forms of cancer.
That three hours was the best tonic to get me out of thinking about my own problems, the weather, the economy, North Korea or the cost of petrol (gas). It made me realise how lucky I am to have reached my boomer age relatively unscathed and healthy enough to lead an active life. It made me grateful for the minor problems I do have, I wouldn’t swap them for any of those belonging to the people I saw at the hospital.
The Law of Attraction and the Universe operate in mysterious ways. It was almost as if I needed more than one reminder to be grateful for what I have this week. Apart from the hospital visit, I received three other reminders of how other people have had far more to contend with in life than I have.
All are worth reading, in no particular order, they are:
Roberta Hunter’s account of a difficult period in her life, how she overcame it and how she helped a friend in similar circumstances, in a post on her blog More Thyme Than Dough.
Bob Bly’s newsletter describing the misfortunes of an acquaintance who experienced the deaths of 3 family members in a month and more. Bob provides many good tips for writers in his newsletter.
James Altucher’s story Mistakes Were Made of surviving a string of calamities and bad decisions to ultimately becoming successful and living a life on his terms.
My week has ended on a more positive level than it started. A good reminder that no matter how bad things might seem, we don’t have to look far to find someone less fortunate.
How has your week been? Are you grateful that you only have your own problems to contend with?
Wishing you success.