Let’s Stop Making Our Own Misery

Let’s Stop Making Our Own Misery

Albert Ellis has written about how we make ourselves anxious and depressed by embracing certain irrational ideas or beliefs. He is correct! You and I both know from experience that it is not so much what happened to a person that makes them miserable..it is how they choose to think about what happened to them.

I once sat with a friend who was dying of cancer. I dreaded visiting him simply because I feel more skilled at talking about coping with life and less so about coping with death. My dear wife, who is a nurse, is so much better at that than I am. It was comforting that she was with me that day.

To our surprise, our bed-side visit with our friend was another valuable lesson in life. Our friend welcomed us with a great smile and, after our initial greetings, he said: “Let me put this in perspective”!

He then cheerfully summarized the many wonderful things that he had the good fortune to enjoy in his life: His marriage, his children (now grown), his grandchildren, his good friends, pleasant hobbies, his pleasures and good fortunes in work, and his faith in God.

All of this from a man who we knew had suffered some significant defeats, hardships, losses and embarrassments in his life. In short, he had many of the problems in his life that a lot of people would describe as failures and great disappointments.

But not my friend. He chose to focus on the good things. The good things were as real and they were much more enduring than the bad things. By focusing upon the good things he became an inspiration to everyone who knew him. He beamed a glorious comfort for all of us to aspire to imitate.

He was thinking rationally about his own death. It was not a horrible or terrible thing! He could choose to be miserable in his last days, or he could strive to find some happiness and do some good for others. His thinking was positive in nature and he focused upon his own intended goals. His thinking was as follows:

Everyone dies. I am going earlier than I wished, but 68 years is a long time. There is much that I have accomplished. I will celebrate the good things. I will not dwell upon the bad things that I cannot change. My last gift to everyone I love (including myself) will be my love of them and my cheerful encouragement of them to carry on, make good contributions, be happy and enjoy their lives!

If my dying friend could do this through the power of rational thinking, it is certain that we can do better with our common problems in life— that we must find ways to manage and overcome.

V. Thomas Mawhinney, Ph.D.  12/26/10

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One Response to “Let’s Stop Making Our Own Misery”


    When my wife was dying twice she told each of our grandchildren individually of her love for them and urged them to stay close to the Lord. When deciding not to recessitate because it was inadviseable she responded by having us all sing “God Be With You Till We Meet Again,” and “I Know That My Redeemer Lives,” also “Abide With Me.”

    When a teen age grand daughter questioned how I can be so accepting of personal dying (of course she sees a whole life to be lived ahead of her) I said that her grandmother, Jeannie, and I are teaching and showing her and the other grand children how to die.


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