Four Ways to Keep a Positive Attitude During Illness



When you’re sick, it can be hard to stay positive. If it’s a cold or flu and passes quickly, things return to normal after a short time. If you have a chronic, long-term, or life-threatening illness, that can be a much different challenge.

With every illness, there are good and bad days. Sometimes you’ll feel better than at other times. Having good moments and staying positive overall, though, is possible even during illness.

Dealing with a Diagnosis

When you first receive a diagnosis of a serious illness, it can be very difficult to cope with the fear and anger. It’s natural to have these kinds of emotions, even if it’s counterproductive. Give yourself some time to be upset, and then start focusing on all the good that’s still in your life. There are many things to be thankful for, and staying positive can actually help you feeling better longer.

You’ll also have a lot of questions you’ll want to ask, once the diagnosis has had some time to sink in. When you ask questions, ensure you get the information you need from your doctor. If he seems indifferent, it may be time to get a second opinion or a doctor who has a better bedside manner so you feel more hopeful.

What If You’re Sick for a Long Time?

With serious illnesses, you may remain sick for some time. If you spend your time thinking of the good things that are still available to you, you’ll still experience happiness. Even small joys can keep you positive and peaceful when you allow yourself to feel the joy of the moment.

To help you stay joyful, consider these options:

    1. Spend time with loved ones. Use this time to get closer to those you care about. Rather than engaging in idle chitchat to pass the time, talk with them about things that really matter to both of you. Share your thoughts, feelings, and desires.
    2. What can you do? Focus on things you’re still able to do and enjoy, as opposed to the things you can’t.
    3. Help others. You’ll find that doing what you can to help others helps you as well. Focusing on the needs of other people can make you feel better about yourself. For everyone who is facing a serious illness, there are people who are worse off in some way. When you reach out to them, it puts your struggles in perspective and gives you someone to relate to.
    4. Use positive affirmations. Replace worry and negative thoughts with positive statements as soon as they appear. With repetition, you’ll begin to do this automatically. Soon, you’ll discover a more peaceful, positive, and joyful mindset, which can also help you physically.

You’ll still face challenging days and trying situations, but there’s happiness to be found even when you’re sick. Be willing to open your heart and mind so you can find that joy. Even with a serious illness, it’s still possible to laugh, love, and experience great joy if you only allow it to come into your life.

Your Weekly Meditation: Feeling, Learning From and Releasing Emotions is a Skill to be Learned

Feeling, learning from and releasing emotions is a skill to be learned.

 It is quite tempting to assume that people who appear as “still waters” with vast reserves of inner calm were simply born that way. However, appropriately feeling, learning from, and releasing emotions is a skill to be learned, just like any other. When you find you are having trouble managing your emotions, this is a sign that you may need to spend some time “exercising” your emotional muscles, feeling the depth and breadth and scope of your own emotions, becoming strong and courageous in the face of those emotions which attempt to overwhelm, and maintaining perspective to see that all emotions, like waves in the ocean, have a rise, a crest, a fall, and an inevitable release. As you practice the skill of emotional management, you will find it easier and easier to feel-learn-release, feel-learn-release.

This week I resolve to: Recognize that it is worth my time to learn how to effectively feel, learn from, and release my own emotions. This builds trust and solidarity in my relationship with both myself and with others.


Your Weekly Meditation: Love Happens

Love happens.

Love is happening all around us, every day, in every way. But often it is also simultaneously struggling quite hard to find a way to get into our lives! Our own beliefs about love – how it can happen, when it can happen, whom it can happen with – can become barriers as strong and impenetrable as steel walls covering us from ceiling to floor and on all sides. Since love is as necessary to human life as oxygen, love never ceases to happen, and it is always hovering on the sidelines and waiting in the wings, scoping out even the merest hint of an invitation to take center stage in our lives.

This week I resolve to: Notice where love is unfolding – in a kind word I speak to a stranger, in their smile I receive in return, in the moment when I stop a self-critical thought in its tracks, in the grace of receiving an extra day to complete an important project. The more I notice how, when, and where love is already happening, the more love there will be, and the more love that love will attract.

Your Weekly Meditation: It is Possible To Embrace Change

It is possible to embrace change.

Sometimes, when we have been in crisis for some time, we feel like we are fighting everything. Whether the crisis is self- or other-imposed, after it has dragged on for awhile we can feel exhausted, worn out, out of options. Yet, it is what we tell ourselves about the change that matters the most, and also contributes to whether we feel drained or renewed when change occurs. For instance, when spring shifts to summer, and then summer to fall, we just accept it. We don’t fight and resist, wearing ourselves out by railing against the unfairness or telling everyone who will listen how unnecessary it is. In the same way, when we can drop our sense of being at odds with change as it arises, we can see that any temporary discomfort we may feel is not from fighting change, but rather is the direct result of our efforts to embrace change as it occurs.

This week I resolve to: Recognize that often what I perceive as fighting change is really my attempts to accept it, and change my story about what is happening to give myself more credit and support.


DBT: Finding the Purpose…

Do things happen for a reason? Or is everything left to chance? Are there random occurrences? Does karma exist? Why do bad things happen to good people? Why do things happen that just don’t seem fair? How am I supposed to see the silver lining when I suffer? How do I withstand what seems to be pointless pain?

I lost someone close to me last Fall. Not to death – he’s still here on earth. We just wouldn’t be seeing each other anymore. I lost him from my everyday life. One morning after it occurred, I found myself overcome with grief as endless questions circled around my mind: “why should I have to endure this pain? Yes, there were so many good memories and I genuinely enjoyed all our time spent together. But were those memories – those good times – were they worth this pain? What was the point?”

Throughout my life, I’ve only allowed myself to become interested in partners with whom I could see a future. While I did see the possibility of some sort of prolonged exchange with him, what was the point of our interactions if we would end up very simply and sadly saying goodbye?

I continued to watch the thoughts swirl: “I should have never gotten involved. I should’ve turned back when I had doubts. I should’ve known.” The thoughts triggered embarrassment, which triggered more thoughts: “you were naïve again. You didn’t listen to your gut. You do this every time – when will you learn?!” The sadness and guilt deepened. I became awash in a sea of discontent, embarrassment, and frustration. All for what?! Why was I allowing these negative thoughts to consume and berate me? It was if they entered my psyche with baseball bats and crowbars and immediately went to work defacing my self-esteem.

Then, I remembered something helpful to me. It was almost as if a voice from beyond whispered into my ear, “find the purpose…” Ever since I began having intimate relationships it’s been difficult for me to let go of partners when the relationships end. It’s possibly one of the only areas in my life in which I experience a genuine repulsion to change. While I’m with someone, we develop a bond, a beautiful friendship. When the time comes for the relationship to end, I often hear myself protesting, “you mean I’m not only going to lose a partner but I’m going to lose one of my best friends too?!” So, a trick I learned along the way [of life], was to believe that everyone with whom I was in a relationship had come into my life to teach me something, to assist me in my personal growth, which would ultimately lead to a more wholesome life experience – a life experience I could then more efficiently share with a loved one down the road.

I ran through my list of past partners, noticing each of their unique purposes: to know the purest type of love, to trust more deeply, to be more adventurous, to appreciate the importance of maturity, to live a life free from substances, to be silly and laugh often, to take care of one’s mind and body. So what was his? I asked myself freely what was his purpose and the answer came almost immediately: to allow me the time and space to develop a comfort in being myself.

Marsha Linehan, creator of DBT, has developed several helpful skills for cultivating the ability to tolerate distressing situations, one of which includes finding/creating a purpose. She notes that research has shown that creating a purpose for a difficult situation, even if the situation seems to be so blatantly wrong, can assist anyone in better managing the emotions associated with the event and in effectively navigating through it. Some situations we’ll encounter in life will seem outlandishly unfair, unjust, or wrong; however, we still have the power to find a purpose in it, whether it be something so concise as: developing patience, making one stronger, or giving one to the ability to connect with another in a similar situation down the road.

After realizing what I perceived to be the purpose in losing my friend, that crisp Fall morning, I felt a calm come over me. When at first I felt deep sadness in losing him, upon finding the purpose I felt as if perhaps I was still on the right path. So, next time you find yourself in a situation that sparks painful thoughts and emotions, see if you can find a purpose, a tiny light softly shimmering in a black hole of grief. Breathe deeply, be kind to yourself, and grow.

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Your Weekly Meditation: Connection is Critical

Connection is critical.

When we think of connection, what often comes to mind is a busy career or social schedule, engaging in hobbies or volunteer work with others, finding a romantic partner, starting a family, and other types of social-focused activities or experiences. But the connection we are truly seeking in life can happen anytime, whether we are in the crowd or all alone. When we remember that we are all in this life together, when we remind ourselves that we all experience joy, sorrow, pain, loneliness, and hope, we connect to the shared experience of being human, and we can no longer justify hiding in isolation, or believing that nobody around us could understand what we are going through.

NOTE: Interestingly, when we do this regularly, we also often find that our self-esteem and satisfaction with our life just as it is improves as well!

This week I resolve to: Spend a few moments each morning connecting within myself to the shared experience of being human that is going on within and all around me, and reminding myself of that unbreakable connection.

Your Weekly Meditation: Rest In What Is

Rest in what is.

When we really stop to breathe in the moment, rarely will we discover that our world is actually falling apart, regardless of what we may have been telling ourselves. Rather, it is just a moment in time, followed by another and then another, and for each of those simple, single moments, we truly are okay. We can get through anything when we remember to come back to our breath and rest in what is. We can also more fully enjoy life’s good times in this way.

This week I resolve to: Stop, breathe, and simply rest for a moment when I find myself feeling wound up, stressed, out of myself, out of control, or otherwise ill at ease in my own skin, in the midst of living my own life.

Your Say Yes to Life Weekly Motivator: Who the “Beautiful People” Are

The most beautiful people are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths.

The woman who wrote this, Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, was one of the foremost medical researchers into the end of life stages. By the time she penned this quote, she had known pain and suffering both in her own life and through the countless lives her work touched as she struggled to make sense of what the dying need from the living in their final months, days, and breaths.

She was a doctor, a healer, a teacher, a researcher, and most of all a friend to those who were striving to embark upon their final transition with dignity, support, and grace.

She knew about beauty, because she lived it, lived with it, lived immersed throughout the course of her career in the essential precious fleetingness that is human life. Through her work she became quite literally steeped in the beauty of courage that is awakened within us in those first moments when we realize that yes, death really will happen to us too.

Dr. Kubler-Ross witnessed firsthand how we do rise to our own occasion, when the unthinkable thinks of us and comes to call. We do surprise ourselves with how strong, how resilient, how peaceful, how resourceful, how courageous, and yes, how beautiful, we truly are. We do amaze ourselves by how well and easily we can find gratitude for the unavoidable, peace amidst the painful, and acceptance even in the face of loss or regret.

We do look defeat, suffering, loss, and the unutterable depths that death invites right in the eye, and relatively fearlessly proceed through the Five Stages of Grief – denial, anger, bargaining, grief, and regret – not necessarily because we want to (although some of us do) but rather because we must, because that is what being human demands of us.

Dr. Kubler-Ross witnessed this, time and again, as she diligently researched and recorded the grief process that families go through during the final stages of life. She learned about beauty – true human beauty – not from the airbrushed pages of a high gloss, high fashion magazine, but from those from whom physical beauty had long since departed, leaving behind mottled hands, rattled breaths, bedpans, and dedicated caretakers who rearranged their entire lives to bring comfort and companionship to a loved one’s final days.

In every moment one of her dying patients took another labored breath, Dr. Kubler-Ross found another piece in the missing puzzle that is life. We live because we can, because we are able, because life is not just what we do but who we are, and because it is in our moments of most intense suffering when we can finally catch glimpses of our own remarkable beauty, which is the same beauty that all human beings share, and the very same beauty that gives us the willingness and the courage to wake up and try yet again.

The most beautiful people are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths.

How would your life – your experience of being you – change if you were to reframe your assessment of your own beauty in these terms?

Where have you known defeat, suffering, loss, unimaginable depths, and have exerted such superhuman courage to survive them that you are still amazed you had it in you?

Where have you experienced a seemingly endless series of insistent “I can’t’s” in your life, followed by the most unbelievable experience of “I can”?

In what ways have you survived the unsurvivable, be it the loss of a loved one, the break-up of a relationship, a job suddenly ending, a natural disaster, a mental or physical illness, an occurrence where, when you first learned of the tragedy, you thought, “I will never recover from this” – and yet here you are, still standing?

Are you….perhaps…..beautiful?

If you told your story, not knowing it was yours, would you be inspired, listening?

If you are struggling to process or progress through a painful loss or a period of suffering or questioning in your life, Southlake Counseling can help. Our compassionate, highly trained staff has more than two decades of experience with supporting people just like you through to seek a higher level of wellness, self-care, and vision for all the richness your life can hold. If you or someone you love needs support to say “no” to unresolved suffering and “yes” to a rekindled desire to live in the presence of your own wise beauty, we invite you to contact us at

Be Well,



Your Weekly Meditation: What Comes Down Eventually Goes Back Up

We don’t often consider the “coming down” parts of life from this perspective. But with thoughtful reflection and a willingness to connect to our life as it truly is, we become humble and honest enough to recognize that even when we go down, we don’t stay down. Eventually, somehow, in a miraculous or mundane way, we eventually make our way back up again. We can count on it. For those of us who seek spiritual solace, we can have faith in this as the way of things. For the rest of us, we can simply notice the truth of it.

This week I resolve to: Allow myself to have hope even on the darkest days. I WILL survive this. I WILL thrive, live, laugh, love, feel grateful for my life-as-me again. I can count on it.

Your Weekly Meditation: Hard Work is Not a Substitute for Grace

Hard work is not a substitute for grace.

We live in a very industrious, hard working world. We do work so hard! Sometimes we work so hard that we forget to cut ourselves any slack at all. Hard work is not a substitute for grace. Grace is the small still voice inside of us that quietly observes, “You are so tired right now. Why don’t you take a rest.” Grace is the gentle unseen arms that move to hug us – right before we push them away, saying “But I haven’t achieved enough yet today to relax or receive.” Grace is that moment when we look up and spontaneously ask ourselves, “Does this task REALLY matter to me?”, even if we do not give ourselves the gift of waiting long enough to hear our own answer.

This week I resolve to: pay attention not just to my outer to-do list, but to the inner direction that guides me subtly but unerringly towards my heart’s true priorities.