When life gives you lemons, make lemonade

I’m sure that every one of you can relate to the fact that life often throws you a totally unexpected curveball that both comes from out of the blue and makes no sense whatsoever. Sometimes it’s a health challenge for you or someone close to you. Or maybe it’s unexpectedly bad news in your business or career. All you have to do is watch the evening news any night of the week and you’ll see the wide range of events that befall us. None of us are exempt. So the question is: how do you relate to the event and what do you do about it?

I’m writing this because life threw me such a curveball and I’ve watched how I related to it and what I did about it. I trust you will learn something from my experience. Specifically, I had a bout with prostate cancer back in 2004 and having had my prostate removed, I assumed I was done with that experience. Not so, this winter, the cancer came back with a vengeance and ultimately started to spread to my bones. The cancer impacted my appetite and last week landed me in the hospital for the better part of the week, dealing with acute pain in my leg and a serious blood condition.

Now before you get too alarmed, we have the situation in hand, I’m home from the hospital, and feeling better every day. But as I said, it’s been interesting watching myself go through this entire experience. See if you can relate.

My very first reaction, when confronted with the situation, was to ask: why me? I’ll bet we all do that. I’m such a nice person, I live a good life, I take care of myself, I eat well and exercise, so why me? But I didn’t stay there very long and my concern is that most people do just the opposite. It’s so easy to feel victimized by life. For far too many people, life just happens, we have no responsibility in the circumstances, and our only choice is to decide how to respond.

That, my friends, is NEVER the case. Like it or not, we are the creators of our lives and we are responsible for all of it. Whether you believe that or not, it’s worth living as if what I said is the truth because the alternative is to end up feeling like a victim and that never feels good. But when you take responsibility, you give yourself power, the power to do something about your circumstances.

So for me, what quickly began was an inquiry into how was I responsible for what was happening. I looked everywhere I could think of looking and then looked some more. While I don’t have all or maybe any of the answers yet, I’m seeing all kinds of things I wouldn’t have seen if I didn’t look and I’ll write more about what I’m seeing in the days to come.

My next reaction was to resist what needed to be done to deal with my circumstances. Western medicine is very good at providing “treatments” for medical conditions but not so good at providing “cures.” Unfortunately, most treatments come with pretty serious side effects and the desire to avoid those had me set out on a path to find the “cure.” While I think I may have found it, it’s a bit too early to talk about it, so that will come later. The important point is that my unwillingness to accept the “treatment” is what landed me in the hospital and in a critical condition. So my next lesson is summed up in the truism: would you rather be right or happy. I chose “right” and ended up unhappy. I’ve now learned it’s often better to give up the need to be right so you can be happy.

And finally, my wife asked me the other day if I ever get “the blues” or depressed about what I’m going through. Happily, my answer was never. I have learned to take the advice of Albert Einstein when he said to believe we live in a friendly universe. In my heart, and from the beginning, I have had faith that God’s will is my happiness and I have chosen to trust that this is all going to work out just fine. I am quite sure that some famous person once said: it doesn’t matter how many times you fall down as long as you get back up one more time!