Friday, February 15, 2013

I Think Therefore I am... What??

I think most of us have heard, or heard of, this famous quote by Rene Descartes -

I think therefore I am

A more exact translation shows it as meaning "I am thinking, therefore I exist". But what does it mean to merely "exist"? I have been asking myself this question on and off for the past few years. As my illnesses have worsened and my life has become smaller, I have been faced with trying to figure out some kind of meaning for my life.

Living with chronic pain and fatigue isn't easy. As the pain, which started in my ankle, has spread throughout my body, and as I wake up often more tired than when I went to sleep, I have often wondered -

Is this what my life has been reduced to?

How do we find meaning in a life we never wanted or even imagined could happen? How do we reframe our lives which have been so dramatically altered and often become a small as a speck of sand in the desert?

By reframing!

I am reading a wonderful book called "Who Switched Off My Brain?" by Dr. Caroline Leaf (isn't that a great title?). As soon as you begin reading, you can feel her passion for her field. She began her research in to the brain more than 20 years ago. She has done a brilliant job of explaining the mind/body connection in a way that is easy to understand and, more importantly, gives us hope!

She explains how our thoughts spark chains of chemical reactions in our bodies. Positive thoughts release healthy chemicals, while negative thoughts produce toxic chemicals. It is really quite fascinating when you consider what the bible teaches us. There are two passages that come to mind which are just as relevant to us today as they were 2,000 years ago -

As we learn that we can choose our thoughts, we also learn that we are literally choosing life or death. To be quite honest, I used to turn my nose up at all that "positive thinking" stuff. I think it was because I was not able to  control my thoughts! I think it was also because the concepts were very "out there". I wanted proof! Well, now Dr. Leaf has laid out the science. But more than that, she has demonstrated it in a way that shows just how capable we really are of controlling our thoughts, holding them captive and reframing them, if necessary, in a way that will give us life!

This gives me a lot of hope and I hope it does for you too! As my cognitive issues become more severe, so does my fear of the future. As my pain gets worse, so does my fear of even being able to get through the day with a smile on my face and joy in my heart. But now I'm learning that my fears don't have to run rampant in my mind and send those toxic chemicals coursing through my veins! I have a choice - 

YOU have a choice! 

Will you join me in choosing life? Will you fight the good fight and bring your thoughts under your control, spit out the bad ones and bask in the glow of the good ones? Let's choose to live each day with thanksgiving and hope so that when we look back on our lives we will see that, even in the midst of our health challenges, we lived victoriously!