I heard an NPR segment earlier this week featuring Suleika Jaouad, the author of the New York Times Well blog column, “Life Interrupted.” Two years ago, at the age of 22, Suleika was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia; she is now cancer free. In the segment (you can read the transcript here), she talks about how it feels to “re-start” her life…or as she calls it, her “new different” (versus “new normal”). One quote really stuck out as I listened to her interview:
“I’ll never go so far to call cancer a gift. It’s a really terrible disease. But like any life-interrupted moment, there are silver linings. And I feel like in the past year, for the first time – I like this expression – that I’ve been able to make my mess my message. And I’ve taken a lot of joy in that. I feel like I have a better sense of who I am and who I want to be and what’s important to me. And I’m very grateful to have that newfound awareness now. I feel incredibly appreciative of my friends and my family. I try very hard to find meaning in the work that I do. And that emphasis and finding purpose has made me a happier person, I think, overall.”
Stories like Suleika’s abound…people going through an intense experience that changes the way they think about their life…about life in general. Every time I come across one of those stories, or see someone or something that puts life into perspective, I’m overcome with a deeper sense of awareness and gratitude for all the good and all the challenges life brings along…for all the screaming moments and all the chubby-handed hugs…for the fog and the sunshine…for the slow runs and the faster ones…for the easy conversations and the tough ones…for all of it.
But all too often, this feeling is fleeting – giving way to sweating the small stuff and taking things for granted. As I think about this, I’d love any ideas about what helps you keep an eye on the big picture…
What helps you keep things in perspective? Do you have any daily practices that help you remember that everything we experience in life is relative?