7 Lessons to Learn If You Want to Thrive in Life

Posted by on April 17, 2015 in Conscious Living, Happiness & Humor, Thrive with 0 Comments

Amy Clites | Tiny Buddha

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“Embrace each challenge in your life as an opportunity for self-transformation.” ~Bernie S. Siegel

I’d been having mild pain for about a week—a consistent, dull ache in the center of my chest.

I’m thirty-nine years old with no personal history of heart disease, or of anything else for that matter. Worry hadn’t yet consumed me, but I was keeping an eye on the pain to see if it got better or worse.

Once a week I drive ninety Los Angeles miles round trip for work. I say “Los Angeles” miles because I should theoretically be able to make the journey there and back in just over two hours, but it can take up to five, since I spend almost the entire commute on the perpetually traffic-ensnarled 405 freeway.

It was during this commute that the pain began to feel more intense. I thought my left hand felt tingly. My mind, always a little bit anxious when driving in LA, ratcheted up the worry ten-fold.

I envisioned having a full-on heart attack while driving in rush hour traffic. I made a mental laundry list of the ensuing consequences, such as passing out and losing control of the car or what would happen to all of my debt if I died. Whose lives would be irrevocably changed for the worse?

I managed to calm myself down enough to make it home, but once there my dutiful and pragmatic husband suggested a trip to the Emergency Room. I was in no shape to argue, and truthfully was grateful that he echoed my own escalating concern.

During my visit to the ER and the subsequent overnight hospital stay, I had lots of opportunities to overreact and feel sorry for myself. I’m sure I did quite a bit of both. But I also saw it as an opportunity to remember and to practice some of the hard-won lessons I’ve learned over the years.

1. Be patient.

It’s no surprise that the name for someone receiving medical care is the same as the word for tolerating delays without becoming annoyed or anxious.

The ER was so busy the intake nurse joked that they must be running a special she didn’t know about. After taking my vitals and determining that I was not having a heart attack at that very moment, I was sent to the lobby where I waited for over five hours to be seen.

I almost talked myself into leaving several times, convinced that if I really was experiencing something serious they would have seen me right away. But I have a family history of heart disease, and the pain wasn’t going away, so I opted to stay.

It turns out that I (thankfully) don’t have a heart problem, but that was not for me to determine.

In our modern age of instant gratification, exercising patience can be a real challenge, especially because we’ve become accustomed to getting what we want right away. But there’s a reason why people often say the most important things in life are worth waiting for—they are. Particularly when your well-being is at stake.

2. Be kind—it counts.

“Be nice to others and they will be nice to you” doesn’t always pan out, but when you’re in a busy hospital with doctors and nurses who are stretched to their limits and beyond, a little kindness goes a long way. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be firm when necessary, but remember the person you’re talking to is a human being.

Be respectful. In most cases, you’ll find that respect is reciprocated. Everyone has feelings, and most people are doing the best they can with the tools and resources they have.

3. Be aware that what works for others may not work for you.

If learned nothing else from this incident, it is that nitroglycerin is not my friend. Yes, nitro is a life-saving wonder drug that opens blood vessels so blood can continue to flow through damaged heart tissue. But if you are prone to migraine headaches as I am, taking a nitro tablet as a precaution is just plain awful.

Nitroglycerin did nothing for my chest pain, but it did give me an instant, crushing headache that lingered for three days. If nitro is going to save my life, I will certainly take it. But if I’m taking it as a precaution, I will think twice in the future.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution to every problem. Sometimes knowing what doesn’t work is just as important as knowing what does. It can literally save you a headache or two down the line.


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