This top 10 list is gleaned from 21 months of suffering, tears, reflection, setbacks, surgeries, solitude, discoveries and lots of ups and downs. The order is random but the lessons are life changing.
#10: Learn to like yourself and if you don’t, change.
If you don’t like yourself and are forced to be alone much of the time, you will be unhappy and miserable. I decided early on to like my own company and the parts I didn’t like, I went to work on to change. That process continues to this day.
#9: Go for joy, not circumstantial happiness.
If you need great circumstances to be happy, you’ll be disappointed often and live a life of quiet desperation during trials and tribulations. Joy is a choice and is made every single day regardless of your circumstances.
#8: Let suffering be your teacher not a dreaded companion.
If you see suffering as something to get over as quickly as possible, you’ll miss the lessons she has to teach you. Many valuable lessons are only learned through pain and suffering.
I walked a mile with Pleasure; she chatted all the way;
But left me none the wiser for all she had to say.
I walked a mile with Sorrow; and ne’er a word said she;
But, oh! The things I learned from her, when Sorrow walked with me.
Robert Browning Hamilton
#7: If you change your perspective, you change your life.
The ability to change the way you see your situation is powerful. For example, when I was living with a “day-at-a-time” perspective and the pain was more than I could handle, I changed my perspective to a “minute-at-a-time” and got through it.
#6: When God puts in front of you “road closed”, He opens up another way.
Sometimes I wonder where I would have been without this accident. But more often I have a deep gratitude for the new road I believe God has opened up for me. I’ve met amazing people, had life changing experiences, grown in empathy for others, learned new skills because of this new road.
#5: Focusing on simple pleasures brings great satisfaction.
At the start of this journey I was preoccupied with what I had lost – walking, running, working, traveling, sleeping pain free. Then a light came on and I started focusing on what I still enjoyed doing – eating out, watching movies, sharing time with friends, learning new things. Pleasure is a matter of perspective.
#4: Boredom is a lack of purpose not a lack of something to do.
If there is one phrase that raises my blood pressure it’s “I’m bored.” For someone who “could” be bored after 5500 hours in a recliner, I have made a choice to find meaningful things to do in spite of my limitations. Living on purpose eliminates boredom.
#3: You are what you eat.
This is true on many levels. If you eat too much food, you gain weight, have no energy and hurt yourself. If you eat the wrong kind of mental food, you grow stagnate and run out of options. If you eat too much negative self-talk, you grow cynical, grumpy and limit your potential. So choose wisely what you eat!
#2: Serving others pays off.
Staying focused on yourself keeps you small in spirit and when problems come, increases your misery. Looking out for ways to serve others with a kind word, a listening ear, a timely gift, a contribution of talent, or a helping hand grows your soul and makes your own problems less consuming.
#1: To have friends within your family is a gift.
No family is perfect (including mine) but one thing I’ve noticed, some of my closest traveling companions through this journey of injury, repair and recovery have been those friends who are also family. The love, compassion and partnership I’ve experienced with my family at multiple levels has been a gift that brings tears to my eyes when I think about it (and you know who you are!).
What have you learned in hindsight this past year?
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