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Finding a Perspective

Posted 7/2/2015

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  One of the most important lessons that I have learned over my years here has been to develop a perspective that distinguishes an annoyance from a real problem. Most things are annoyances--granted, some of those things are really big annoyances, but that is all that they are. A good guide to knowing the difference is to ask yourself: Will this matter tomorrow, in a week, in a month, in a year? Hardly anything, except health-related things, will matter even a week from now.

  As you may remember, I write a regular column for Cancer Today, and this is the newest one:

Let It Go
Create a list of guiding principles that allow you to shake off the small stuff.

We are all familiar with bucket lists that encourage us
to go ahead with experiences that are important and,
perhaps, to take some thrilling risks. But a second and
equally important list can be just as useful. A let-it-go list can help us
recognize the commonplace annoyances that, in the face of a serious
disease, just don’t matter.

1) When you face a problem, assess the
long-lasting impact. Will the problem
matter in a week’s time? If not, put it
in the let-it-go column.
2) Learn to start from “no.” Most of us
are socialized to say “yes” to requests,
and we may feel burdened and obligated
later. Of course, you may want to
bake those cookies or go to that event,
but think about it before accepting.
3) Dedicate your energy to people and
things that make you happy, not on
fulfilling other people’s expectations.
4) Forgive yourself and others. And leave
regrets behind.
5) Don’t worry so much about routine
activities, such as dusting the furniture
or vacuuming the carpets.
Once you cut back on these mundane
tasks, see if you or anyone else cares
or even notices.
6) Don’t waste energy on negative
people. Find time for people who
make you feel better.
7) Many of us have financial constraints,
but facing a serious diagnosis can provide a great opportunity to tap into
that rainy day fund, perhaps prompting
you to go on a trip (See “Have
Cancer, Will Travel” in the Fall 2013
issue of Cancer Today) or to enjoy
dinner at a restaurant you’ve never
tried. As they say, you can’t take it
with you—so go ahead and splurge if
your finances allow it.
8) Put yourself first some of the time,
and always put those you love ahead
of others.
9) Remind yourself that many things are
out of your control, including the outcomes
of scans or treatments. Learn to
slow down and take a deep breath in
these anxious moments.
I will never say cancer is a blessing,
but going through a cancer diagnosis and
treatment often forces you to push the
pause button on your life. This freezeframe
gives you a rare opportunity to
analyze your relationships and priorities
through a more powerful lens. Make sure
to focus on the people and experiences
that matter the most to you.

And PS: there is a lot more in the digital version of the magazine that you will find interesting


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