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May 2024 Newsletter

May 24


Crafting Your Story - What Will You Write?


Hello Seekers of Greater Well-Being!

Dr. Waxman here for this month’s newsletter. Last weekend, I was asked to speak at a Rotary District Conference of Clubs on the topic of mental health. Several members chose this issue because of their concern for the emotional well-being of family members, friends, and co-workers. My presentation centered around the factors that influence our mental health, including our genetics and life events. We need to answer the question: Do events in our environment determine our emotional state, or do we control how we react to life events? 


After I spoke, someone in the audience asked me a probing question: “Living Well Aware is all and good, but what if you are told that you have an incurable disease?”


None of us would like to receive that news. But dealing with that news requires the same approach as it does to any of the unwanted events that can occur in our lives, whether it be losing your job or receiving an overcooked steak in a restaurant or being stuck in traffic and finding yourself late for a meeting, or learning that your well-meaning child washed all the red clothes in the washing machine with your white sheets!


One of the most important lessons Patsy and I have learned from our wellness journey: the quality of our lives is directly reflected in the quality of our emotions. And where do our emotions come from? They come from our BS (our Belief System) which leads us to attach a meaning to everything that happens in our lives. In other words, what is the meaning or STORY we create around every event of the journey that is our life?


Because it's not the events themselves that determine the quality of our lives. It's how we frame those events! Those events are neutral! The exact same thing can happen to two different people, but they can see them in two entirely different ways! 


Let's take the diagnosis of an incurable disease for example. One person may look at this and say, “This is the worst thing that ever happened to me. My life is ruined. It’s over.” But another person who receives the same news may say to themselves, “Whoa! This wasn’t what I had planned, but I’m going to make the most of it. I'm going to ignore the trivial. I'm going to enjoy my family, my friends. I’m going to pay attention to the wind, the sun on my face, the birds singing, and everything that has made life on this planet such a joy. I'm going to be grateful for the experiences I have had. And you know what? I think I will use this diagnosis so that I can set an example for other people so they may see that bad news does not mean I’m done. I will look at what IS under my control. There is always something we can do to make a situation better.”


You see, we have incredible power to write our own story! That power occurs after we experience an event in our lives and we give it a meaning, a story. In that precious space between the event and the story we attach to it, we can look for gifts, opportunities, and possibilities, and how we are going to deal with this going forward. And the more we experience such events and look at them as gifts and opportunities, using the emotion of gratitude, the more options occur to us regarding how we approach these events and manage them.


Remember Viktor Frankl, the Viennese psychiatrist who found himself imprisoned in a Nazi concentration camp during the Holocaust. He said, “The one thing you can't take away from me is the way I choose to respond to what you do to me. The last of one's freedoms is to choose one's attitude in any given circumstance. Happiness cannot be pursued; it must ensue. Life is never made unbearable by circumstances, but only by lack of meaning and purpose.”


So, as we get ready to write the next chapter in our life story, what is the meaning that you will give to your experiences today? Will you see them through the lens of fear, anger, disappointment, and stress? Or will you look at these new experiences and wonder, “Why is this happening for me? How can I take this and apply it to my life so that ultimately it will be remembered as a wonderful lesson, perhaps even the best thing that ever happened to me? That’s living WELL aware!


THANKS to Rotary International, Baylor Scott & White Health, Ochsner Health in New Orleans, First Community Title, and so many school districts, businesses, and organizations who have scheduled Patsy and me to assist with improving the well-being of members.  We are honored to be traveling the journey with you. 


LWA 2024: A Life-Changing Journey Into Optimal Wellness begins May 13! Check out the many components of our best wellness program ever: Live webinars, Online course, Virtual Book/Article Review Club, and much more! MORE INFORMATION / REGISTRATION. Thanks to so many who have already registered. Group Discounts available. See ya on Zoom!


Jeffrey Waxman, MD