If you’re like most people, every January 1 you enthusiastically make a few New Year resolutions that 365 days later you reluctantly admit you didn’t do a very good job of keeping: exercise more, eat healthier, lose weight, gain a new skill, clear out the attic. I’m no exception. But this coming year, I wish to share a new set of attainable resolutions that may not only greatly improve your life, but even help to reverse disease.
Recently, when I was in California for some lectures, I stayed at a lovely guest house at Finch’s Gardens in Kelseyville. There I found a plaque featuring The ABCs of Life, attributed to R. Stewart, 2005. The 26-verb alphabetical list impressed me for its retain-ability, its simplicity, and its wisdom. I liked every prompt on Stewart’s list but modified several to make them more suitable to myself as well as those whom I seek to help.
Although the list is all verbs – action steps –the focus is not so much on things to do as ways to be. After all, we’re human beings, not human doings! I figure if I could act on each of the alphabetical urgings even once in the year to come – that would be only one effort every two weeks – I would be well on my way to having one of the best years of my life. And if I could practice some of them a few times per year, I might create patterns that could change my life forever! Perhaps you will too. So here’s my edited list:
ACCEPT DIFFERENCES – Try to accept people for who they are, whether those differences be racial or religious or sexual, and respect that they may not share your opinions or belief systems (including those about health and healing).
BE AUTHENTIC – Be true to who you really are, and never hide that authenticity in order to please or meet the expectations of someone else. (The original list said BE KIND, which often brings kindness right back to you.)
COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS — Assume that proverbial “attitude of gratitude.” There is always someone worse off than you are, and there is always something for which to be grateful.
DREAM – Allow yourself to dream of possibilities. Whatever you can conceive and believe you can potentially achieve. As Johann Wolfgang von Goethe wrote, “Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.”
EXPRESS YOUR FEELINGS – Suppressing feelings, especially negative ones, is a good way to get sick and to block the energy flow needed to get well. (The original list said EXPRESS THANKS, and of course it is always good to tell people — and God– how appreciative you are.)
FORGIVE – Many recovered “terminal” cancer patients will tell you the secret of their recovery is to forgive. Forgiveness is always more for the benefit of the forgiver than for the forgiven.
GIVE FREELY – The best way to have a life of meaning and purpose is to feel needed by giving of yourself. Even those who have no assets have something they can give – if only a smile!
HARM NO ONE – Always be kind, and appreciate that even the tiniest of insects is part of the Universal Force of Creation that binds us all.
IMAGINE MORE – Visualize what you want. Be creative, and think outside the box, whether it is about your options for regaining health or for changing your life.
JETTISON ANGER – Holding onto anger and resentment will poison you more completely than any environmental toxins. As Woody Allen said in the film Manhattan, “I don’t get angry, I grow tumors instead.”
KEEP FOCUSED ON THE PRESENT (originally KEEP CONFIDENCES) – Stilling your mind and being aware of the present moment removes fear of the future and regret over the past.
LOVE TRULY – This may be romantic love or love for a child or pet, but as in the well-known song, “Learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all.”
MASTER SOMETHING – Find a goal to pursue, whether it be a sport or other physical achievement or learning a craft or skill or musical instrument, and become the best you can possibly be at it!
NURTURE HOPE – Let go of despair, which, as Dr. Bernie Siegel states, is a “die” message. Hope is a “live” message. Hope doesn’t always heal, but it always helps.
OPEN YOUR MIND – As the saying goes, a mind is like a parachute: it’s no good unless it’s open. Learn something new every day, and always be open to new possibilities for healing and living.
PURSUE JOY (originally PACK LIGHTLY) – Joy can be found in little things or big things, free pursuits or expensive ones. The key is to find something pleasurable to look forward to every day, and since laughter is the best medicine, laugh freely daily.
QUELL REGRETS (originally, QUELL RUMORS) – Three of the most dangerous verbs in the English lexicon are “should have,” “could have,” and “would have.” As my Silva instructor once told me, “Stop shoulding on yourself.”
RECOGNIZE YOUR WORTH (originally RECIPROCATE, also important) – Realizing one’s self-worth and valuing oneself as a unique creation of God may take some hard work if that message was drummed out early in life, but it lies at the core of healing for many people.
SEEK WISDOM – Wisdom is different from mere knowledge. Wisdom is knowledge plus experience, plus the ability to discern what decisions may be right for you.
TOUCH HEARTS – Showing others that you care about them with kind words and deeds will do much to touch your own heart as well.
UNDERSTAND – Question the “why” in everything and everyone. Learn to be a really good listener, and be introspective about your own needs above all.
VALUE TRUTH – Don’t believe everything you hear or read, but seek evidence-based truth in all areas of life. As concerns cancer treatment, you may wish to watch The Truth About Cancer
WORK COURAGEOUSLY (originally, WIN GRACIOUSLY) – Getting well or staying well is hard work that requires change, commitment and dedication. Pray like everything is up to God, but work as if it’s all up to you.
X-OUT GUILT – (originally XERISCAPE, water-conserving landscape gardening) — Guilt is the most carcinogenic of emotions. Let it go, give yourself permission not to be perfect, apologize to someone dead or alive, and move on.
YEARN FOR PEACE – Pursue peace in your family and community, but especially seek inner peace. In the re-phrased words of the serenity prayer attributed to Reinhold Niebuhr, “God grant me the serenity to accept that which cannot be changed, the courage to change that which can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
ZEALOUSLY SUPPORT A WORTHY CAUSE – and you know which one I mean! If you cannot personally make a donation to BeatCancer.org, ask those who care about you to make one in your honor. Or do a simple fundraiser for us.
So whether you have cancer or any other serious disease or whether you’re just dealing with a condition called “living,” I believe that practicing each of these 26 ways to be can touch your soul and help move you to deep satisfaction. In turn, improving your emotional and spiritual health will always enhance your physical health. I wish you all of these in 2016!