I was recently honored and delighted to be included in a one-year “cancerversary” celebration. My dear friend dressed herself up and took a small group of her closest supporters to her favorite restaurant to celebrate.
Like yours, her road has been bumpy. In fact for her, the leg beyond treatment has been more challenging than treatment itself. Before cancer she was an avid cyclist. Now she can’t comfortably sit on a bicycle. She’s always been goal-oriented and high-achieving in her career and her personal training. Now she’s in search of goals that satisfy her, and the energy to achieve them.
It would be easy for her to complain, or feel victimized by the physical and emotional consequences of her cancer treatment. It would be easy to conclude that her life is less than it was before cancer. But she’s choosing to celebrate: celebrating her resilience, celebrating her friends, celebrating new and different possibilities, celebrating that she keeps getting to figure it out. She plans to celebrate her cancerversary like a second birthday each year, in honor of the new version of herself that will continue to unfold.
My friend beautifully illustrates a key teaching of one of my mentors: “notice what you’re noticing”. When life gets tough, it’s easy to focus all your attention on the tough parts. If it gets tough enough, it’s easy to lose hope of ever experiencing good parts again. You may think that hope and happiness will only happen when the tough stuff is over.
The truth is that even when things are rough, we can always notice what there is to celebrate. Is a certain part of your body in need of healing? Attend to it, and celebrate the parts of yourself that are working well. Is there a rocky relationship in your life? Hold the vision of a return to peace with that person, and celebrate the connections that nourish and support you.
During dark times, choosing to notice what’s worthy of celebration is a courageous act. It’s a declaration that no matter what your circumstances, you and you alone will choose the feeling tone of your life. When you can do that, you don’t have to wait for circumstances to change in order to create happiness and peace of mind.
What can you find to celebrate today?
Celebrating your very existence,
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