I caught a cold this weekend. Yeah, I know it’s not a popular thing to do—or especially to admit. After all, how many times have you heard someone say, “I NEVER get sick!” Which is odd, when you distinctly recall just a short while (week, month, season) ago they were moaning about feeling awful. Besides, now that most people have a Facebook Timeline we have proof of their past experiences! But being sick and trying to heal while not fighting the process got me thinking. That’s when I decided it might be SMART to come up with a few lessons all of us could remember when we have a cold.
#1 Even the most enlightened, intelligent and richest people on the planet still get sick now and then. While we might like to believe/pretend that once we ascend to a certain elevation (that elevation might be in consciousness, health, spirituality, education or finances) we’ll never succumb to illness, it just isn’t true. Think of Steve Jobs. He proves that having all the money in the world won’t insulate you from disease. Or what about Lance Armstrong? Not only was he incredibly young and healthy before he was diagnosed with stage three testicular cancer, it wasn’t until afterwards that he went on to win the Tour De France seven times. And what about bestselling author, teacher and spiritual leader Wayne Dyer? After recovering from a heart attack in 2001, he was more recently diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Stuff happens. Humans get sick now and then. A great explanation comes from the great Indian Sage Sri Aurobindo who, after falling and breaking his knee said, “I still have to carry this human body about and it is subject to ordinary human limitations and physical laws.”
Of course that’s not to say that we shouldn’t take care of ourselves when we can—just not beat ourselves up when something occurs. Much as we might not want to admit it, illness appears to be a part of life. And just like with any circumstance we encounter, we can always just use it to learn more about ourselves, make improvements when possible, and keep on living.
#2 Whatever we resist—persists. I’ve noticed that no one enjoys being sick—me included. Unfortunately, the more we attempt to fight something, or push it away, the more hairy it sometimes becomes. A cold is no different. If you don’t rest, drink plenty of fluids and generally take care of yourself, it often lasts longer than need be.
Plus, just like with any event in our life, we have the choice to see it as a lesson or as a curse. If we see the experience as a curse, then we often become fearful and afraid. Our world becomes confined and limited. Illness as a curse takes over our entire life and holds us (and our friends and family) capitive. However, if we stop seeing illness as an enemy, we can pause and see if it holds the key to anything that we’ve avoided or resisted in the past, learn from it—and then begin to take steps that will benefit the future.
#3 Develop Compassion. I suppose there might be a better (or easier!) way to develop compassion, but once you’ve undergone a painful health issue you’re bound to be more compassionate. After two extremely painful incidents in my past I know that my heart was broken open enough to be able to understand the deep pain of others more fully. Once you’ve experienced pain in a compassionate way, even with something as minor as a cold, you can recognize it in others and relate in a way that just wasn’t possible before.
#4 Appreciate the miracle of our bodies and its natural ability to heal. I think most of the time we all take our healthy body for granted. When I’m not sick or in pain, it is far too easy to pretend that I’ll always stay that way. (Just like when you’re young it’s hard to imagine ever growing older!) But sickness is a very visceral reminder that stuff happens and things change. It is also a reminder that we can’t control every circumstance no matter how much we want to or try to. For the most part however, most of us are extremely blessed with bodies that function normally and heal when something goes amiss. Let’s do our best to keep our bodies healthy and happy—and appreciate the tremendous gift of healing when it does happen.
#5 Recognize our connection to life. There is nothing like a cold that catches you unaware to remind you that we are all connected. Let’s face it, with nearly seven BILLION people on the planet (and growing by the minute) the things that affect people everywhere can also affect you and me, everyday, all the time. No man is an island. You and I are living organisms—just like the germ and cold viruses—and everything we touch, everything we breathe, and much of what we eat—is alive and interconnected. While I tend to think interconnection is a good thing, it also has the ability to connect what isn’t as beneficial for creating a happy experience. While I personally believe we are “spiritual beings having a human experience,” the human part of us is all here together with a ka-billon other organisms (including mother Earth herself) and we need to work together to make this an experience that works for us all.
I’m sure there are some more lessons to be found in having a cold or any illness, but frankly it’s time for a nap. Maybe that’s the bonus tip in all this—be kind to yourself. Recognize that your body needs both rest and proper nutrition while healing. Don’t beat yourself up for getting sick or worse, for not getting well as fast as you’d like. And try to give yourself at least as much compassion as you would for a child you loved who didn’t feel well.
Finally, let’s remember that SMART Living isn’t living in a world where challenges never happen. Like Dr. Nick Baylis said in one of my recent articles, “A wonderful life doesn’t mean a life that’s trouble free or without fault. It means it’s wonderful that the person is still smiling and going strong after all they’ve been through.” So, next time you have a cold or aren’t feeling good, don’t forget to reread this article. More importantly, be kind to yourself and you just might discover a few tips of your own.
“Everything that shows up in our lives has something to teach us. Be content. Know that whatever comes along, you can handle it and grow from It.” ~Wayne Dyer
“There are two big forces at work, external and internal. We have very little control over external forces such as tornadoes, earthquakes, floods, disasters, illness and pain. What really matters is the internal force. How do I respond to those disasters? Over that I have complete control.” ~Leo F. Buscaglia