by Peter Waite
Who knew I would be grateful for having a chronic illness? Actually I wish I never got sick in the first place, but given that I am, I'm glad it has changed my life in some good ways. I've been reading responses in the forums to my recent post on gratitude.
A lot of you mentioned that the post gave a lot to think about. In return, your comments have given me a lot to reflect on. I've selected a few to illustrate 8 reasons why you should be grateful for chronic illness.
1. Gratitude Brings Empathy, Compassion and Humility
"I have only been diagnosed for almost a year, but I can very much relate. I too look at things differently and can feel so much empathy for others who are suffering from chronic illnesses. I would have never been able to understand it before I became ill. Also, I now realize that just because someone looks healthy, you cannot always assume that they feel good too." - Carrie48
"I learned to become a more humble human being due to chronic illness. I learned to appreciate nature's beauty where before I became sick I just took it all for granted. Even though I was always a compassionate person, I became more compassionate, just when I thought that was not possible." - Deejavu
2. Gratitude Brings Resilience and Openness
"I easily identified when you talked about pain and suffering, as my entire 3 year prostate cancer journey has been wracked with almost constant pain. I too, have learned that I can take a lot more than I thought I could, and despite my setbacks and complications and disappointments in my own journey, I still keep moving forward, trying to live the best way that I can. It has also made me open myself up in ways that would have been impossible without the lingering illness. It's made me more social than I was prior in my life, and I have no problems with seeking help from others, whether it's here at HealingWell, or in my real life relationships with people." - Purgatory
3. Gratitude Brings Patience and Closer Relationships
"I have become more patient. I have started eating more healthily, taking more exercise. I appreciate friends, family, beautiful things etc more. It got me out of a rut. I tidied up my house and cleared out all the unneeded mess clutter etc.! It made us realise it was time to move out of a flat and find a house with a garden. I'm much closer to my wife, we were so close I am surprised it was possible to get closer. It has also introduced me to the wonderful guys and gals at HW". - English Alf
"Prostate Cancer brought my wife and I closer than we have been in years and I am so grateful for that. PC brought me to this forum and I now have so many new friends I otherwise would not have had the honor to meet. I honestly feel better than I have in years and I now live everyday like it is a bonus thanks to friends. I also have a new purpose in my life and that is to spread PC awareness with family, friends and my business customers." - The Water Boy
4. Gratitude Inspires Service
"Having this "challenge" has encouraged me to volunteer with a hospice organization because I figured there must be some positive way that I can make use of these experiences.... death is a natural process that none of us are immune to regardless of a cancer diagnosis. It may seem counter-intuitive but it seems the more I can accept that fact, the better I am at making the most of living." - Dreamerboy
"For the last three and a half years, I've been working part time at a funeral home..... The experience has helped me accept the fact of my own mortality. I've often marveled at the strength and courage which these families and the deceased person have displayed in the face of extremely trying circumstances. It has definitely strengthened my commitment to my wife, my children, and my grandchildren. Each day is precious, and each hour shared with those I love, especially perhaps the grandchildren, has taken on a much deeper meaning." - clocknut
5. Gratitude Brings Perspective
"I'm very grateful that I've avoided surgery, have my life back and I don't sweat the small stuff anymore. Being in the hospital and having a chronic disease brings perspective, I think and makes the good days that much better." - beatUC
6. Gratitude Brings Acceptance
"I think that embracing this illness with your inner true self and making a connection are the initial steps towards getting better. If I were given a choice not to have this illness, I'll gladly take it. I'm sure everyone would. But because of what I went through, not just physical suffering, I'm happy to admit that I've changed a bit in a good way and this is probably the one of the only things that I appreciate as an outcome of having this illness. Though I still need to go through more changing, I'm proud that I've made some progress with my inner self while dealing with illness."- CollegeStudent
7. Gratitude Brings Opportunities for Growth
"I think cultivating gratitude is a great practice, but my gratitude is for the resilience I gained, the kindness, the perspective, etc but not at all for the illness itself. I think of the children in my life -- would I like them to be resilient, to have perspective, to show and experience kindness -- absolutely! But would I wish Crohn's disease on them to gain these qualities -- absolutely not! It is a wonderful thing that we have the capacity to use the difficult parts of our lives as opportunities for growth -- I stand in awe and wonder at how many people do this..... and it is also amazing that even with great adversity, there is still so much good in the world left for us if we pay attention."- blueglass
8. Gratitude Brings.... Un-Sweetness?
"I'm grateful that I'm not nearly as sweet as I used to be! :)" - barkyboys
I am thankful for being part of a community that shares with me both the joys and heartaches of living with chronic illness. You have helped me in so many ways.
Peter Waite, M.S., M.A. is founder and CEO of HealingWell.com, and holds graduate degrees from Utah State University and Brandeis University. Founded in 1997, HealingWell.com is the foremost support community on diseases, conditions, and chronic illness. HealingWell.com has been featured by BBC Online, USA Today, MSNBC, the New York Times, the Associated Press, the Industry Standard, Reader's Digest, PBS.org, Forbes.com, and USA Weekend Magazine. HealingWell.com has also been the recipient of numerous health industry awards. He enjoys spending his free time with his wife and four children.