Is having a disease a blessing? That is a very counter-intuitive question but I have been thinking about this very idea while reading More Than Money: True Stories of People Who Learned Life’s Ultimate Lesson by Neil Cavuto. This book profiles several different successful individuals who overcame cancer, MS, and paralysis to lead fulfilling lives. These individuals focused their efforts on helping others and their families instead of solely seeking financial gain in their careers. They did this by starting charities, being public spokespeople for disease awareness, and trying to change government policies for the benefit of societies’ disadvantaged. Without their personal struggles with serious medical ailments they would have never led a life that was focused on fostering relationships and helping other people. It is this fact that makes me think that having a disease can be looked at as a blessing. Of course, having a life threatening disease can be extremely painful, isolating, debilitating, and a host of negative adjectives that are far from any semblance of the word “blessing.” However, through the suffering and pain, I see more times than not stories of people appreciating their lives and families more than when they were previously healthy. The onset of illness many times makes people stop and think about what is truly important in life: they may not skip out on talking with their kids instead of emailing, they may go on that trip that they have always been putting off, they may tell the ones they love that they “appreciate them with all their heart.”
A life well lived cannot be measured quantitatively. A life well lived is the sum of qualitative experiences that are completely independent of a person’s age. If you have a disease, cancer, or a debilitation do not look at it as a negative. You have the first-hand knowledge of life’s unpredictability and hence the power to take advantage of all the opportunities still accorded to you. If you are healthy then try your best to look at life with the lens of someone with a disease. Think about what is most important and truly take advantage of your health while you still have it. Socrates said that the unexamined life is not worth living. Suffering can change our perspective on life and really make us examine what is worth doing while on this Earth. If you don’t examine your life and live it in the best way possible then you are throwing away your blessings and in my opinion you are worse off than having any possible disease. I am not wishing disease upon myself or anyone for that matter but I am encouraging you to think about how suffering is not always a negative and how we can take advantage of any situation. The cliché saying is to live like there is no tomorrow. There is merit to this but it is not realistic because most of the time there is a tomorrow. I would say for those who are healthy live like you will die in the next 5 years. This way you can still keep some financial balance while not pushing off all your hopes and dreams. For those who will not make it to the next five years I want to reemphasize that you can “live” more in those five years than most people will “live” in an entire lifetime.
To end this post I recommend this inspirational video that profiles how a disease can truly be a blessing in disguise.