At the age of thirty-six, on the verge of completing a decade’s worth of training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. One day he was a doctor treating the dying, and the next he was a patient struggling to live. And just like that, the future he and his wife had imagined evaporated. When Breath Becomes Air chronicles Kalanithi’s transformation from a naïve medical student “possessed,” as he wrote, “by the question of what, given that all organisms die, makes a virtuous and meaningful life” into a neurosurgeon at Stanford working in the brain, the most critical place for human identity, and finally into a patient and new father confronting his own mortality.
What makes life worth living in the face of death? What do you do when the future, no longer a ladder toward your goals in life, flattens out into a perpetual present? What does it mean to have a child, to nurture a new life as another fades away? These are some of the questions Kalanithi wrestles with in this profoundly moving, exquisitely observed memoir.
Today on the Mindset Transformation radio show and podcast, I would like to take you on a journey into living!
How to live before you die
I ask the question “What makes a virtuous and meaningful life for you?”
Psychologists says that in order to live a virtuous and meaningful life, you should have balance in these 7 areas:
1. You should have A fulfilling career – i.e. You are doing what you love.
2. You should and must have a relationship with a higher power, God.
3. You must be fruitful and multiply.
4. You should offer Service to your community.
5. You must have effective time management and stress reduction.
6. You must get quality sleep, adequate exercise and proper nutrition.
7. You should spend quality time with loved one’s friends and family.
A Fulfilling career
Most people don’t do what they love, they work to live; so they live to work!
I saw a viral picture a few weeks back on Instagram that made me chuckle
It was a picture of a man crying with the caption:
So how do you find your passion, work in your passion or work on your passion?
You have to Listen to your soul.
If you are dreading going to work, hate it all the time you are there, and you are not serving or making a difference in the lives of others, then quit.
Step out on faith.
Faith, now faith is the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen.
Believe that God will fund your purpose, if it is his will.
On the road to Damascus, Saul encountered Christ in a memorable experience that left him temporally blind. Immediately he started to undergo a major transformation of his whole life and character, including a total reorientation of his world view. Following this he was commissioned into service as an apostle to the Gentiles. Paul’s story highlights the 3 dynamics of a meaningful life.
The relational, the transformational, and the vocational. We must not choose one and neglect the others.
The relational experiences in a meaningful life results in openness to others, healing progress towards Christlikeness and participation in God’s purposes in the world.
The Transformational concerns how we transform after being touched by God and the Holy Spirit. Just as all Saul’s beliefs, mindset and values were altered, so can yours. This show’s mission is the offer you advice on how to do that.
The vocational is what we are talking about and it is how God works through us. I am doing God’s work.
He has given me the purpose of speaking life into you!
So, choose your vocation wisely and work as unto the Lord.
Know this for sure, that the quickest and most direct path to sickness and death is to linger in stressful situations. All diseases can be traced back to inflammation. Inflammation is brought on by stress and negative emotions.
Find your purpose and step out on faith.
As a coach, I can Help you design a plan to get there quicker.
A relationship with a higher power
We are dual beings having both a physical and a nonphysical experience.
The most important barometer to living a meaningful and virtuous life is how your connect with source and if you understand why your soul chose this time to manifest into a physical being. i.e Understand what you are here to do!
When you meditate, you open communication with source energy and infinite intelligence.
This is the gateway, this is the path a meaningful life.
When you are in communication with source, you get fed instructions to live a meaningful and virtuous life.
It is a 2 way communication; you ask and you receive.
So don’t stay in that job that is killing you, ask your source to direct you to the right job.
Listen for the instructions on how to do it the supernatural way, and not by your own limited powers.
I am telling you from personal experience, this works.
I receive instructions every morning either in bed before I rise, during meditation or sometimes later in the day. I act on my inspirations and they always produce fruit. And because I act on them, I keep receiving more. If you don’t act on your gut instinct, your gut instincts will stop coming.
The bible teaches us not to do anything in your own strength! With God all things are possible.
Everything begins with our relationship with God and the improved quality of other relationships that develop out of this. In the intimacy of such a personal relationship, something of God’s own character gradually spills over into ours; it stimulates our transformation. From our new awareness and knowing that God loves us, comes an increased confidence and boldness to face life’s challenges and opportunities. It motivates and empowers us to take more risks. It becomes the platform for a whole new approach to courageous and virtuous living.
God said “Be fruitful and multiply, and repopulate the earth”
Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward”
Can you truly have lived a meaningful and virtuous life if you have not multiplied yourself?
In the bible age, women who were barren were believed to be cursed.
In today’s age bearing a child is still considered one of the most rewarding and sought after experiences in life.
God hardwired unconditional love to the mother. A love that transforms hearts, an energy that is quantum, that means it can be felt over great distances just by thinking of your child.
I can tell you that the birth of my 2 children were the most meaningful things I did in my life. They are my reward, a gift that keeps on giving and giving.
The second question Dr Kalanitht asked as he faced his morality was:
“How do you nurture your child to live life, as yours fades away”
You see Dr Kalanitht and his wife decided to accept God’s plan for them to be fruitful and multiply.
They decided to leave a legacy behind, so they had a baby together.
The thought of leaving behind a child only increased the pain for Dr. Kalanitht.
We would all agree that leaving behind loved ones is the most painful part of death.
That is why we must live each day like it is your last.
You must impart all the love, knowledge and wisdom into your children when you are alive, so as they grow older, they would not depart from it and you will live on in their thoughts and hearts.
Be of Service to your community:
Your Success is in direct proportion to your service.
We must put the fuel in before we get heat.
No man can get rich by himself, unless he enriches the lives of others.
To lead you must first serve.
Your purpose in life will always include service to others.
Serving at the Ronald McDonald House
There’s a special connection that comes with preparing meals for others too heartbroken to cook for themselves. Making those dinners with a group of volunteers brings an intimacy and humility that cannot be matched. And one of the best spots I know to do that is at the Ronald McDonald House in Falls Church, Va., a place that offers comfort, refuge and care for families whose children are battling life-threatening illnesses.
Jarun Brown and Beverly Johnson prepare a meal at the Ronald McDonald House in Falls Church, Va.
Jarun Brown, 64, chops broccoli as we create a salad for 14 family members staying at the House. A social worker and former McDonald’s executive, she once “danced for a minute” with the Alvin Ailey Dance Company. Her previous corporate position earned her a seat on the Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) board in Norfolk, Va., and she began volunteering with the Falls Church Ronald McDonald House six years ago.
“We do whatever is needed,” Brown says of the volunteers’ work. That could mean cooking a meal, cleaning the house, rotating refrigerated food or writing thank-you notes. Although volunteers and families don’t often stay in touch after leaving the House, Brown has kept in contact with a few families over the years. “It’s great to hear how our families are doing, and learn about the children’s recovery process,” she says.
Erin Petri, the evening manager, joins us. I give her an onion to chop and hope she doesn’t cry. A few minutes later another volunteer, Beverly Johnson, comes in. Volunteering with RMHC was on her bucket list after suffering the loss of a child years ago. A place like the Ronald McDonald House would have been helpful to her.
“I can relate [to what the families are experiencing] and that’s what makes it so special and so rewarding to me,” she says as she chops apples.
The families begin to enter the dining room. Several of them are drawn to the aroma of pineapple chicken simmering on the stovetop. We finish the broccoli salad and set it on the counter, next to the stove with the chicken and rice. It smells delicious and comforting, and we are happy that we have given these families what may be the only positive event for them that day.
Johnson offers to clean up, and I happily accept. “It is good therapy for me,” she says of her Ronald McDonald House work. “I think I’ve found my niche.”
Effective Time Management
The key to a stress-free life is effective time management.
If you are always working in red zone of deadline you will experience burnout.
Effective time management is scheduling your day to work on top priority tasks before you work on C or D priority tasks.
When you do this, you will eliminate stress.
Effective time management also means that you plan your days to include the things that give life meaning. Walking in nature, exercise, reading, sitting quietly to reflect or meditate, spending quality time with loved ones, and proper rest.
Getting quality sleep, good nutrition, and exercise
Physical exercise releases endorphins, improves sleep, prevents diseases, releases stress, prevents dementia, prolongs life….
I could go on and on.
Everybody knows that exercise is good for your body, mind, and soul; yet few do it.
Since our topic today is When breathe becomes air: How to live a virtuous and meaningful life.
I think everybody reading this would want to live a quality life. One that includes being healthy and independent.
The most effective way to ensure this is to get regular exercise, adequate nutrition and proper rest
In his book “The Eat to Live Plan” John Fuhrman MD says, our body’s are designed for wellness. Give it the right biochemical environment for healing and it becomes a miraculous self-healing machine. When you eat mostly high-nutrient foods, the body ages slower and is armed to prevent and reverse many common illnesses, like diabetes.
The exercise prescription.
Exercise is extremely important. Almost everyone can do something, even those who cannot walk can do arm, abdominal, and back exercises with light weights or use an arm cycle. Exercise will facilitate your weight loss and make you healthier. Vigorous exercise has a powerful effect on promoting longevity.
Spend quality time with loved ones
In human affairs, there are efforts, and there are results.
The strength of the effort is the measure of the result. We know this to be a fact.
If you studied for your test, you will get a better grade.
If you make more sales calls, you will get more sales; if you spend quality time with your spouse, you will have a better marriage, if you spend quality time with your kids, they wouldn’t act out looking for attention.
Invest in your relationships.
Joel Osteen says that if you want your relationships to thrive, you must invest in them.
Be a giver rather than a taker. Strive to make deposits into the lives of your loved ones and other peoples lives. Encourage them, build them up, and help them to feel better about themselves.
One of the best advice I received on my wedding day, was to look at my marriage as a bank account. Don’t make withdrawals if I made no deposits”
Joel Osteen says the same thing.
Look at your relationships as an “emotional bank account” Every time you interact with loved ones or friends, you are either making a deposit or a withdrawal from your account.
You make deposits in the lives of your loved ones by giving them a hug and a kiss, telling them how much you love them, spending quality time with them, listening to them when they speak or being involved in the things they love like playing the piano, sports, painting etc.
We make withdrawals when we don’t take time for people, we don’t keep our commitments, when we don’t express appreciation. When we make more withdrawals than deposits our account becomes overdrawn.
The bible says in Ecclesiastes 5:3
The dream comes through much effort and the voice of a fool through many words.
Having a meaning and virtuous life comes through much effort. You can’t just have the knowledge and don’t put it into action, you can’t just talk about wanting to live a meaningful life and not put the effort in.
Having a fulfilling career takes effort. You must learn the skills and then work hard to move up through the corporate ladder or building your own business.
Having a relationship with God takes the effort to find time to meditate and listen for instructions.
Being a good parent takes a lot of effort. Someone else is depending on you.
Being of service to your community takes supreme effort. Who has the time you ask? But something happens when you help the less fortunate. When you work at the soup kitchen and feed the hungry; you find your humanity. All your pedilly problems seems insignificant.
It takes effort to manage your time effectively, and not become reactionary.
It takes effort to make sure you are eating a balanced diet and taking supplements. It takes effort to get up early to exercise or do it after a long day. But if you want to live a long and meaningful life, you will do it.
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