‘Tis healthy to be sick sometimes. ~Henry David Thoreau
The picture of a man standing in front of a huge pile of rubble caught my attention. He was in Oklahoma and the rubble was clearly what was once his home, destroyed in a tornado. What a sense of despair he must have felt, yet he had taken a horrible situation and found humor as he stood beside a hand-written sign that read “For Sale: Price Reduced; Some Assembly Required.” I guess you have two choices in a bad situation: you either cry or look for a silver lining.
I didn’t feel like myself. Waking up after nine hours of sleep, I felt as if I had just plowed the back forty. As the fatigue continued for more than nine months, every day was another day of tired. This might not have been surprising for an unhealthier person, but this was me–the girl who thinks about everything she eats and how it will or won’t be beneficial, the girl who doesn’t like to take medicine–this was a person who was rarely ever sick. What was happening to me? My husband remarked that he was used to seeing me go full steam ahead, crash, and pick the pace right back up, so when was I going to get to that last part? I couldn’t answer his question, and worse than that was the fact that nothing I tried was making me feel any better. I really didn’t have time to be tired, but Thoreau’s words have come to mean a lot to me as I’ve been on a journey to feel better. Sometimes, things have to fall apart in order for what really matters to be recognized.
Have you ever exploded in a short burst of emotion–tears or anger? Have you noticed how much better you feel once you let whatever is bursting to get out escape your body? In fact, research shows that after about a 6-minute bout of crying, 85% of women and 73% of men say they feel less anger and sadness. It’s healthy to cry, especially if it diffuses anger in a safe way. Sometimes, life explodes like our emotions do, and while it lasts longer than 6 minutes, it can have equally beneficial results.
I have never heard even one person say Come on life, throw your worst at me. I’m ready. Yet, most of us are quick to agree that some of our best moments have come as the result of difficulties. A broken leg that meant you had to spend more time sitting and visiting with Great Aunt Irma; you missed your marathon but developed an amazing relationship. The job loss that forced you to consider a new path, which resulted in a happier and more lucrative career. The mother in Connecticut whose sick child inconveniently made her leave work to pick the child up from school early, learning later that she actually had removed the child not long before a school shooting had taken place there. Thank goodness for the inconvenience! Similar stories are told from people who ‘missed’ getting to work on 9/11.
What interruptions, inconveniences, and unfortunate events have taken place in your life? Have you ever taken time to see the gift that came as a result? How often do we focus on how life has dealt us one more blow when we could stop to appreciate the good (call it a coincidence or a blessing) that came as a result?
How do you handle the interruptions and disappointments in your life? We’ve already noted that crying for 6 minutes–I’ll set a timer next time–is a healthy way to let out your frustration. What next? Do you blame someone else for your disappointments? It’s easy to be mad at the boss who fired you, the police officer who gave you a ticket, the slow driver in front of you, the teacher who gave you the bad grade, the customer who ruined your day with his rudeness. It’s a little more difficult, but much more valuable to look at the benefits of the bad situations.
Finally, after making changes in my life, my energy has returned. Things exploded, and the unnecessary blew up and out of my life, whether I wanted it to or not. Some day, I’ll write about the journey, but for now I find it incredibly important to note the good that has come from being sick, much like Thoreau said. I’ll invite you to note the same on your own journey. Life becomes so much more exciting when you find yourself looking for that silver lining.
“And now, dear Mr. Worthing, I will not intrude any longer into a house of sorrow. I would merely beg you not to be too much bowed down by grief. What seem to us bitter trials are often blessings in disguise.
This seems to me a blessing of an extremely obvious kind.”
― Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest