Some heart attack survivors I’ve met will readily describe, surprisingly, how their heart disease diagnosis has actually been a “gift”, which sounds positively goofy to me.
This “gift” can be appreciated only from the distance of willing hindsight, enhanced by the gratitude of surviving what many do not. For example, I often look back at my ‘normal’ running-around-with-my-hair-on-fire, over-committed and chronically exhausted self, pre-heart attack, and wonder what I thought was so important back then. As one of my Mayo Clinic heart sisters said:
“I have more balance in my life now – because I have to!”
Like many diagnosed with a chronic, progressive illness, I’ve been mulling over some of the many lessons to be learned from having a heart attack. I’m still not saying that a cardiac event is a gift, but please don’t wait until you have a catastrophic health event to mull these over yourself. Here are 40 to start you off:
- Life isn’t fair, but it’s still good.
- When in doubt, just take the next small step.
- Your job won’t take care of you after your heart attack. Your friends and family will. Stay in touch.
- Pay off your credit cards every month.
- You don’t have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.
- Saving for retirement starts with your first paycheque.
- When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.
- Make peace with your past so it won’t screw up the present.
- However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
- Don’t compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
- Very few things in life are worth getting that upset over.
- Everything can change in the blink of an eye. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.
- Get rid of anything that isn’t useful, beautiful or joyful in your life. (Thanks, William Morris!)
- Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Or not.
- It’s never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else.
- When it comes to going after what you love in life, don’t take NO for an answer.
- Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don’t save them for a special occasion. Today is special.
- Over-prepare, then go with the flow.
- Be eccentric now. Don’t wait for old age to wear purple.
- The most important sex organ is the brain.
- No one is in charge of your happiness but YOU.
- Frame every so-called disaster with these words: ‘In five years, will this even matter?’
- Always choose life.
- Forgive everyone everything.
- What other people think of you is none of your business.
- Time heals almost everything. Give time time.
- It’s okay to let your children see you cry.
- Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
- Don’t take things so personally.
- Don’t audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.
- Growing old beats the alternative — dying young.
- Your children get only one childhood.
- As James Taylor says: “Shower the people you love with love”.
- Get outside in the fresh air every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.
- If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d grab ours back.
- Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
- The best is yet to come.
- No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
- Life isn’t tied with a bow, but it’s still a gift.
* inspired by 90-year old Regina Brett writing in The Cleveland Plain Dealer
Do you have another life lesson to add to this list?