The power of positivity …

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I was watching the clip of Michael Landon on the Tonight Show. During the segment, Landon praised the power of laughter and positivity—said that it was helping him survive; that he felt stronger than ever; that more than 50 percent of health was mental.

That interview took place on May 9, 1991. He died less than two months later.

You have my word here—I’m not diving into the topic for the sake of antagonism, or to try and sway one’s opinion. But I often wonder whether the ol’ “Human spirit” line is a bit overplayed, especially here in America. Heck, the phrase “Power of the human spirit” gets a whopping 28 million Google hits. But is it real? When I was a kid, I remember reading an Epcot sign that said IF YOU CAN DREAM IT, YOU CAN DO IT. Since that time, I’ve dreamed of (in no particular order): Playing quarterback for the Jets, turning invisible, flying like Superman, hooking up with Halle Berry, being able to sing like Prince, driving to California in 24 hours, running for president and winning.

I am a believer in positive thinking. I really am. It keeps other people afloat, and certainly beats the alternative. But do people who know they’ll overcome X illness actually overcome it? Is there reason to believe the guy who is steadfast in his determination not to die will, in fact, not die? Did Lance Armstrong beat cancer because he’s tough and strong-willed, or did he beat cancer because luck was on his side?

When he passed, Michael Landon was a four-pack-per-day cigarette smoker who had been abusing his body for decades. I’m not sure strong self belief overcomes that. I hope it can. But I just don’t know …

4 thoughts on “The power of positivity …”

  1. Jeff, in February I was diagnosed with Cancer…and it isn’t one of the “good ones.”

    My first instinct was to run and hide. I was embarrassed, maybe even ashamed that I was so weak that I could get Cancer. I didn’t even want to talk about it with my wife…and how could I face my kids?

    Then something happened. I didn’t see a bright light or an image of Jesus on my toast. I didn’t pray. I didn’t even glance to the sky. Never have.

    One of my wife’s co-workers suggested that we start a CaringBridge.org site to keep our family up to date on my situation. The reason was simple…my wife was overloaded talking on the phone. She couldn’t possibly keep everyone up to date.

    One day after she started the blog, she couldn’t update the site and asked me to quickly let the family and our friends know what happened that day.

    I cover high school sports, but my sports writing never made me feel so good as when I updated that blog and shared my inner-most feelings.

    That first blog entry triggered a chain of events that to this day has helped me overcome an awful lot of bad shit.

    Shortly after updating the blog, the comments started rolling in. Family and friends offering encouragement and lots of love and support…and prayer.

    That support has continued to this day, even though my blog entries aren’t as frequent as they were several months ago when I spent hours of every day at the hospital.

    I’m not saying the positive feelings helped me endure the six months of chemotherapy, three hospital stays and countless needle pricks, fevers, chills, aches and pains, vomiting and yes, hair loss. But, it sure didn’t hurt.

    I’m sure the toxic drugs fed into my veins had a lot more to do with where I am today–nearly clear of Mantle Cell Lymphoma and ready for a stem cell transplant–than all the prayers and positive feelings ever could.

    I am positive of one thing…I’m glad I took the approach I did. The last six months weren’t easy, but for the sake of my children I’m glad I didn’t run and hide. I sure hope they learned a thing or two from me about facing adversity. I know I learned plenty.

  2. postivie thinking. yes,it beats the alternative. definalty pulls you through rough times. does it cure a disease? make you a quaterback? have you fly like superman? probably not. but it makes you feel better. it encourages others. it builds your spirit, your attitude, your confindence. it makes you work twords something bigger. i believe if its your time its your time. no amount of positive thinking is going to over come that. but it certanly gives hope and makes everything al ittle easier and a little brighter.

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