Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Rx: THE GOOD LIFE


According to a Reuters report (http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/09/14/us-cancer-idUSBRE88D1ED20120914), a Mayo Clinic study has found that a program focused on improving quality of life can help people being treated for advanced cancer. Patients who attended the sessions—a combination of physical and talk therapy, along with relaxation techniques and spiritual discussions—reported a stable quality of life during treatment, while patients who didn't get the extra help declined on those measures.

People who have had cancer or any other serious illness won’t be surprised by that finding. They know in their bones that cancer’s more than a tumor. Its accompanying emotions grossly abrade one’s life. Attending to quality, then, not only makes a difference, but ought to be a standard part of cancer treatment.

As a matter of fact, attending to quality ought to be a lifelong function. Why wait for cancer? Most of us tolerate some degree of unhealthy diet, inadequate exercise, toxic exposure, adverse self-image, poor stress management, unfulfilling work, deficient support, or dysfunctional relationships. Do we need that? Can we do better?

Preventive medicine means more than getting regular checkups. Ultimately it means living one’s ideal life. When we consider what that might look like, we entertain images of cruising around in a shiny convertible, tippling champagne, partying, going for the gusto. Thus we compile “bucket lists” that include skydiving, bunji jumping, and other extremes. These images find their way into us via pop culture marketing; they’re not necessarily us. What exactly would your perfect life be like, moment-to-moment, day-to-day? It might not depart significantly from what you’re doing now, or you might sense major challenges to confront.

One of Freud’s disciples, Alfred Adler, routinely asked his patients, “If you were cured, how would you behave?” They’d think about it, finally answer, and then Adler would say, “Then why don’t you do that now?”

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