“I’m going to die if Barack Obama is not reelected in 2012!” That is what a staunch Democratic supporter friend told my wife a few weeks ago. If she had said this to me, my reaction would have been, “Maybe so, maybe not.” (On the one hand, the lady is in her seventies; on the other hand, she recently survived eight years of “W”.)
There is no guarantee any one of us will survive to the end of December, 2016 regardless of who is President–we could unintentionally step out in front of a truck tomorrow. Of more relevance is how joyful and productive our remaining years will be. I know a number of people who appear miserable in their forties and fifties. In contrast, I know a gentleman of 102 who joyfully pilots his personal skooter around the his assisted living retirement home, always with a smile on his face and a kind word for others. This gentleman looks forward to tomorrow and doesn’t appear to worry about how many tomorrows he has left.
If you are like my wife’s friend, stop spending your days in front of TV news and begin to make positive plans for your little corner of the world. You and I have one vote each out of millions. Should you wish, you can become active in local Democrat or Republican politics and help get others out to vote. Beyond that, why should you stay awake at night worrying about world, national or even regional trends and events? I don’t like the thought of Iran with nuclear weapons, but what can I do about it? Worrying about issues beyond our control produces needless stress which can indeed shorten our lives. Worse yet, we will be miserable during our remaining years on Earth!
If you must fret over the future, concentrate on issues at least partially under your control. In the first place, probably 80% of the bad things you anticipate never will occur. Of the remaining 20%, your presciption is positive advanced contingency planning: what steps will you take and how will you react to potential bad news? At all times, you must remain CEO of you; this means you anticipate both positive and negative future events, thoughtfully weigh all your options in advance then choose a preferred course of action should the worst occur.
Frankly, I don’t want to live that long if my future isn’t filled with joy and meaningful contributions to others. No matter how difficult our challenge, we don’t have to give into negative emotions. In 1989, I battled a life-threatening cancerous tumor in my nasal cavity. Ultimately, I had to decide whether or not to undergo a high-risk operation near my brain. As I look back now, I was more alive and positive back then weighing my options and receiving emotional support from loved ones than I have been at any time before or since. Although my future was highly uncertain, every day spent with my wife and children became a joy and blessing.
In similar fashion, my wife Gloria battled Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma in 2006, I never had a doubt that her strong positive outlook on life would pull her through. Through months of chemotherapy and radiation, she remained active and involved; despite hair loss I doubt most people who saw her on the street or at social events even realized she was ill. Today, Gloria’s cancer is in remission and her health is excellent.
Bottom line, turn off that news channel and take the whole world off your shoulders! Instead, visualize a joyful and productive future for self and for those you love. Confront any challenges you do face head on with the energetic, creative outlook of someone who controls his or her own destiny. If you can accomplish this, I promise that you will survive the 2012 election, whoever wins.