I had a patient the night before last that changed my thinking; this young man had found out that very day that he has terminal cancer. I went into his room expecting to see a depressed man, but found him instead playing a game of uno with his family. After his family left I had time to talk to him for a while, so I asked him how he is staying so positive throughout this time? He said that he wants to make happy memories for his family to hold onto after he’s gone.
I thought about what he said long after I left his room that evening…he’s right. We have today, we’re not promised tomorrow. So, what can I do today to make happy memories for those I love?
Here’s a few ideas:
* Be curious. In a 2007 study, Todd Kashdan and Colorado State psychologist Michael Steger found that when participants monitored their own daily activities, as well as how they felt, over the course of 21 days, those who frequently felt curious on a given day also experienced the most satisfaction with their life—and engaged in the highest number of happiness-inducing activities, such as expressing gratitude to a colleague or volunteering to help others.
* Be Friendly. In a recent Gallup World Poll, the biggest predictor of happiness at work was whether or not a person had a best friend they could call on for support. Don’t isolate yourself…reach out.
* Be Flexible. We can’t hide from the world or the negative things that happen, but we can make the choice to not dwell on it.
* Be creative. Situations will happen, and there will be times when you don’t feel well enough to go out with the family or there just isn’t enough funds to go out. When that happens why not stay home and play a board game, a card game or find things in the house that have meaning like a locket or picture and tell the story. Don’t isolate though, that punishes both you and your loved ones who want to spend time with you.
* Be Faithful. Whatever your beliefs are…be faithful. Over 85 percent of people confronting a major illness pray, according to a University of Rochester study. One study even found that prayer raises dopamine levels which is associated with a feeling of well being or joy. Sharing this experience with your loved ones is a great way to make positive memories that will last.
Of course, take care of you; eat better foods and exercise.
Enjoy the ride, we never really know how long we have to be on this crazy little journey…so go make memories!