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“A Life Worth Living….” is a topic near and dear to my heart. Part of this fondness can be traced back 35 years to the day I broke my back and acquired a spinal cord injury. In the coming few weeks, I found myself thinking, praying, sorting out, and trying to envision life and how it might look now that a visible condition was present.
During this time, I had many questions and no real answers but then who would? What was evident was the fact that my life would never be the same; life would be different. More specifically, I remember seeing in my “mind’s eye” that I used to be on Path A, but now I am to follow Path B. I did not know why I felt that way, but I did. I decided to trust that feeling of “intuitive knowing” and just go with it. It was at that moment I realized I only had two choices. I could accept my situation and my new path or I could decide to fight it and give up. I decided to accept the changes and that life would probably be different but do everything I could to help myself be independent and to create the life I sought. I guess you say this was the beginning of an evolving process that focused on creating a life worth living….
Creating such a life is a personal but powerful endeavor. What is meaningful and worthy to one person will likely differ for another. For some people, a life worth living is about having friends and close familial relationships. For others, a worthy life is about helping people learn about themselves and their strengths, utilize their potential, and achieve their dreams. Still, others may be more focused on things such as personal independence, being able to successfully maneuver one’s environment, or on becoming employed in an occupation one enjoys. The possibilities are endless. For most of us, a worthwhile life is a composite of numerous hopes, dreams, goals, and ideals we are actively pursuing and at the end of the day make our “hearts sing.”
Achieving a life worth living is also important for people with disabilities; it is not solely for those who do not have a disability. Yet, some people find it challenging to pursue their dreams and life goals….People interested in pursuing the life they seek are encouraged to ask themselves what it is they desire so they can have a fulfilling, well-lived life. This is also a good time to look within and identify our barriers or blocks that inhibit us from working towards the life we want. For example, are you engaging in self-sabotaging behaviors that prevent you from reaching your goals? Do you find yourself falling prey to some ‘thinking traps’ some of which may include: “black-and-white thinking” or “catastrophizing” over a feared situation or an event that might occur but has not? Are you letting a situation “cloud” how you see yourself and your abilities? In short, are you thinking or behaving in ways that hold you back? Other essential ingredients in creating a life worth living are resilience, tenacity, and grit. As we travel the road of life in pursuance of our version of “a life worth living” we often discover obstacles or barriers that we must face, address, and overcome. When we have and intentionally cultivate inner qualities such as resilience, tenacity, and grit, we increase our chances of achieving the life we seek and one that at end of the day we can say is “A Life Worth Living.”
People interested in learning more about this topic are encouraged to check out my book, “Living with a Disability: Finding Peace Amidst the Storm.” Chapter 8, “Constructing a Life Worth Living: A Map to Creating a Better Life” can be used to help people understand the importance and value of being an active participant in one’s life and future and in approaching life with a desire for something better all the while working towards creating the life one seeks.
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