I flew out to San Antonio, Texas recently for a speaking engagement. As I boarded my flight from Newark Airport, I was in a lot of pain. I hadn’t slept well a few nights during the week and my herniated disc was acting up big time. After a good night’s sleep on my cervical pillow that I now take with me on my travels, I awoke refreshed and ready to go. It was a wonderful.
On the flight home Saturday night, I felt great and realized what is truly meant by the term, “Health is Wealth”. Like most of us, I heard and have used this term but never understood the deeper meaning. “At least you have your health” was something I heard people say but glossed over. But flying back that Saturday night, I got it. It hit me: Health means Wealth because when you’re sick (not the cough and cold kind of sick) you’d give all your wealth just to feel better!
I learned to appreciate this earlier this year. For about 5 months, I suffered massive pain anytime I had my head turned a certain way. Severe pain would shoot down my left arm and into my hand. After countless visits to the doctor, an MRI, an x-ray, EMG and an echo cardiogram, I discovered that I had two herniated discs which were aggravated every time I moved my neck in a certain direction. Sleeping became painful. Reversing the car in the driveway was brutal. Pain in my upper back, neck and then shooting down my arm became the norm I lived with for those miserable months.
This was the image I got used to: the ceiling of a chiropractor’s office, the white ceiling tiles of a physical therapist office or the inside of the MRI machine (ok…it was a bit freaky and the tough guy in me won’t admit that I was a bit claustrophobic) and the waiting room of a doctor’s office. It was awful. Life was miserable.
Over time, with the help of a good physical therapist, conscious body posture, I managed to feel a whole lot better. Soon enough I was back to normal. With the help of the cervical pillow, I was getting sleep too.
Getting back knee deep into work and the usual busy life, the pain period was a distant memory. But its recurrence on the flight back from San Antonio reminded me how grateful I have to be for my good health.
As I learn to embrace the chaos, I have to be more conscious of the importance of the good things I do have. I have to BE GRATEFUL for good health. Sure, uncertainty and chaos surrounds my work and the economy. I get stressed and anxious at the unpredictable events which seem to occur at random almost daily. Things come out of left field more and more. And you cannot count on anything anymore.
But in all of this chaos and uncertainty of life, I am now so much more grateful for being pain free. It is awesome!
While so often we get lost in all the uncertainty and chaos surrounding our life, I realized that being grateful about a simple thing like a healthy life is not as precious to you, when you have never had a bad experience. You only realize it if you or someone you know or love has experienced poor health. It feels terrible. And most of the time, the way we are wired, we tend not to think about those “bad times”.
But I think being grateful for what we have in this world, especially our good health, I believe we can feel better about the uncertainty, chaos, unpredictability of the rest of our life. Life is good. It is awesome if you and your kids, your parents and your friends have good health. So why feel anxious and stressed about work and career? Is it really that bad? So what if the perception of a predictable career is gone? So what my house is worth a lot less than I paid for it?
Health is the most under appreciated asset that we only value when we lose it. By being grateful for what I have not what I don’t have, I will begin to Embrace the Chaos.
And while gratitude for one’s health may not put more money in my pocket or bring the value of my home above water, having good health will bring me freedom to pursue my life to the fullest of my ability. Being grateful for my health makes me feel better.
Because I can laugh without feeling nausea because of a jerky motion of my neck or posture.
Because I am able to give my 3 year old little girl a horsey ride on a Sunday morning.
Because I can lay down at night and sleep peacefully.
And to me that’s why health is wealth…because it allows you to go about your business creating good memories with family and friends. And that is true wealth.
Rule #3: Be grateful. Embrace the Chaos!