Category Archives: Understand

Effect of Forgiveness on Health

“When you forgive, you in no way change the past – but you sure do change the future.”  Bernard Meltzer

“The first step in forgiveness is the willingness to forgive.” Marianne Williamson

Précis: Recently had a friend go through a difficult break-up from a marriage. The notion of getting past the failed relationship, achieving forgiveness, and moving on without causing illness was of paramount importance. The implications of forgiveness/unforgiveness as it relates to health-illness crossed my mind. It started with assembling the quotes in this post. Next, I did a Google Scholar search for “forgiveness and health” and discovered a whole new area of psychology-science-medicine (well, it was new to me). Most of us would agree that forgiving yourself promotes wellness; whereas remaining unforgiven could disrupt your mental and possibly even your physical health.  This post reviews forgiveness and its positive impact on our health.

“Forgiveness is really a gift to yourself – have the compassion to forgive others, and the courage to forgive yourself.” Mary Anne Radmach

Forgiveness and Health: The Oxford dictionary defines ‘forgive’ as to stop feeling angry and resentful towards (someone) for an offense, flaw, or mistake.  Positive psychology is the scientific study of the strengths that enable individuals and communities to thrive. Forgiveness is a big part of positive psychology regarding both physical and mental well-being.   Over the past 15 years, researchers have focused on 2 primary hypotheses: (1) forgiveness has important connections to physical health; and (2) this relationship is guided by an association between lack of forgiveness and anger.  Evidently, there is consensus in the field that these two primary processes form the basis of forgiveness: (i) letting go of one’s right to resentment and negative judgment; and (ii) fostering undeserved compassion and generosity toward the perpetrator.  The first process implies a person would reduce their negative emotions (i.e., anger and revenge); while  the second process involves increasing positive feelings and might even include reconciliation. Collectively, there is growing scientific evidence that links the positivity of forgiveness and health.

“He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

“The more you know yourself, the more you forgive yourself.” Confucius

Forgiveness vs. Unforgiveness: It is probably apparent (to you) that forgiveness is generally associated with improved mental and physical health, as opposed to someone unable/unwilling to forgive.  Modeling the relationship between forgiveness and health, based on the hypothesis that forgiveness reduces hostility (and this would be considered healthier), 6 paths linking forgiveness and health have been described: (i) decrease in chronic blaming and anger; (ii) reduction in chronic hyper-arousal [“a state of increased psychological and physiological tension marked by such effects as reduced pain tolerance, anxiety, exaggeration of startle responses, insomnia, fatigue and accentuation of personality traits.”]; (iii) optimistic thinking; (iv) self-efficacy to take health-related actions; (v) social support; and (vi) transcendent consciousness (“state achieved through the practice of transcendental meditation in which the individual’s mind transcends all mental activity to experience the simplest form of awareness“).

What does this mean? The majority of studies on forgiveness indicate a reciprocal relationship to hostility, anger, anxiety and depression.  Forgiveness may directly alter sympathetic reactivity, which is often referred to as the “fight-or-flight” response. These responses include increases in heart rate, blood pressure, cardiac contractility, and cortisol.  This implies that unforgiveness could promote an acute, stress-induced reactivity that could be associated with general health problems.  However, it is much more complicated than this simplistic flow of events: anger is a component of unforgiveness; anger is a health risk; therefore, unforgiveness is a health risk.  This is really interesting reading but way beyond my training as a protein biochemist (If interested, look over the references listed below)

Forgiveness and Mental Health: Let’s take a different angle by looking at mental health. We begin with unforgiveness as being associated with stress from an ‘interpersonal’ offense and stress is associated with diminished mental health. Furthermore, unforgiveness due to an ‘intrapersonal’ wrongdoing may lead to shame, regret and guilt, which could also negatively affect mental health. The positive impact of forgiveness may help correct the downturn in mental health that resulted from either interpersonal or intrapersonal stress.  In many instances, mental health is linked to physical health. This suggests that practicing forgiveness would positively influence mental health and could therein bolster physical health.

To summarize the ability of forgiveness to bolster mental health, I have re-drawn the figure from Toussaint and Webb  (2005) as a 4-piece puzzle. It begins with the ‘direct effect’ of forgiveness as told through unforgiveness with emotions of resentment, bitterness, hatred, residual hostility, and fear. The negative emotions of unforgiveness could contribute significantly to mental health problems.  By contrast, the emotion of forgiveness is positive and strong and love-based that could improve mental health. The ‘indirect effect’ of forgiveness through social support, interpersonal behavior and health behavior are all positively-linked to good mental health. The ‘developmental stage’ describes the recognition of the problem, need for an alternative solution, and ultimately the effect of forgiveness augments mental health.  The final piece to the puzzle is the ‘attributional process’, which suggests that being able to forgive bolsters personal control of one’s life, which is perceived to be positive.  By contrast, unforgiveness blocks this life-controlling process by consumptive negative emotions made worse in the individual through rumination.  Due to my own internal word limit and time-period to read/understand the topic, I have not included the religious or spiritual basis of the forgiveness of God, feeling God’s forgiveness, and seeking God’s forgiveness in the narrative of this post.  For many people, these would be integral components to the discussion here on forgiveness and its overall impact on both mental and physical health.

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“I don’t know if I continue, even today, always liking myself. But what I learned to do many years ago was to forgive myself. It is very important for every human being to forgive herself or himself because if you live, you will make mistakes- it is inevitable. But once you do and you see the mistake, then you forgive yourself and say, ‘Well, if I’d known better I’d have done better,’ that’s all.” Maya Angelou

9 Steps to Forgiveness (Fred Luskin, LearningToForgive.com): Dr. Luskin is a noted-researcher in the field of forgiveness. His belief is that by practicing forgiveness, your anger, hurt, depression and stress will all be reduced and it will increase feelings of hope, compassion and self confidence. Furthermore, he believes that practicing forgiveness contributes to healthy relationships and to improved physical health; here are the 9 steps to forgiveness:

  1. Know exactly how you feel about what happened and be able to articulate what about the situation is not OK. Then, tell a trusted couple of people about your experience.
  2. Make a commitment to yourself to do what you have to do to feel better. Forgiveness is for you and not for anyone else.
  3. Forgiveness does not necessarily mean reconciliation with the person that hurt you, or condoning of their action. What you are after is to find peace. Forgiveness can be defined as the “peace and understanding that come from blaming that which has hurt you less, taking the life experience less personally, and changing your grievance story.”
  4. Get the right perspective on what is happening. Recognize that your primary distress is coming from the hurt feelings, thoughts and physical upset you are suffering now, not what offended you or hurt you two minutes – or ten years – ago. Forgiveness helps to heal those hurt feelings.
  5. At the moment you feel upset practice a simple stress management technique to soothe your body’s flight or fight response.
  6. Give up expecting things from other people, or your life, that they do not choose to give you. Recognize the “unenforceable rules” you have for your health or how you or other people must behave. Remind yourself that you can hope for health, love, peace and prosperity and work hard to get them.
  7. Put your energy into looking for another way to get your positive goals met than through the experience that has hurt you. Instead of mentally replaying your hurt seek out new ways to get what you want.
  8. Remember that a life well lived is your best revenge. Instead of focusing on your wounded feelings, and thereby giving the person who caused you pain power over you, learn to look for the love, beauty and kindness around you. Forgiveness is about personal power.
  9. Amend your grievance story to remind you of the heroic choice to forgive.

“Forgiving does not erase the bitter past. A healed memory is not a deleted memory. Instead, forgiving what we cannot forget creates a new way to remember. We change the memory of our past into a hope for our future.” Lewis B. Smedes

Forgiveness in the Presence of Parkinson’s:  Receiving a diagnosis of Parkinson’s, a lifelong chronic progressive neurodegenerative disorder is a real shock.  The diagnosis comes with a variety of emotions. After a while, acceptance takes over; no, not your identify, just ok, I’ve got Parkinson’s, live through it, make the most of this experience. Eventually I had to put forgiveness into part of this living-life-equation. There were two self-involved events where I might have contributed to the development of my own disease.  The first was as a young boy in the summertime riding my bicycle behind the DDT trucks spraying for mosquitoes on our Air Force bases [Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) is a colorless, tasteless, and almost odorless crystalline organochlorine known for its insecticidal properties]. DDT is one of the known chemical inducers of Parkinson’s. Second, in graduate school before OSHA took over regulating lab safety, I routinely used many different noxious compounds for the benefit of science and for the completion of my PhD. Both events caused me to pause and ponder; however, I decided to forgive myself. I truly believe had I remained unforgiving, I would have paved a path of ill health.

This whole process of dealing with the emotion from diagnosis to acceptance (and forgiveness) of Parkinson’s reminds me of the opening verse of “We Are The Champions” by Queen: “I paid my dues/ time after time./ I’ve done my sentence/ but committed no crime./ And bad mistakes-/ I’ve made a few./ I’ve had my share of sand kicked in my face/ but I’ve come through./  (And I need to go on and on, and on, and on)

The vast majority of people with Parkinson’s are 60-years of age or older (although there is a group of early-age-onset). Interestingly, in a recent study with an elderly population, forgiveness showed positive and significant association with mental and physical health.

“You cannot travel back in time to fix your mistakes, but you can learn from them and forgive yourself for not knowing better.” Leon Brown

“Accept the past as past, without denying it or discarding it.” Mitch Albom

Forgive Ourselves: Dr. Elaine in her post “The-healing-power-of-forgiveness” nicely summarized self-forgiveness: “We tend to believe that forgiveness supports the transgression that has been committed against us. But forgiveness is not an endorsement of wrongdoing; rather, it’s an act of releasing the pain and hurt it caused through love, the root of forgiveness—and it is not love of the other but of the self. We must forgive ourselves as well as others in order to be whole and healed.”

Effect of Forgiveness on Health: The sum total of our health is a complex formula that differs slightly for each one of us.  Those of us with a progressive neurodegenerative disorder like Parkinson’s increases the complexity of this life-equation.  Thus, dealing with the axis defined by forgiveness/unforgiveness in the matter of health (both mental and physical) clearly could complicate our health.  Truly we need to add forgiveness as a filter to our life-lens; the benefits from this addition should favor our health in the long-run.

“If we all hold on to the mistake, we can’t see our own glory in the mirror because we have the mistake between our faces and the mirror; we can’t see what we’re capable of being. You can ask forgiveness of others, but in the end the real forgiveness is in one’s own self.” Maya Angelou

Cover photo credit: https://orig05.deviantart.net/0a42/f/2015/095/1/6/painted_wallpaper___fog_on_lake_by_dasflon-d8oiudk

Useful References:

Lawler KA, Younger JW, Piferi RL, Jobe RL, Edmondson KA, Jones WH. The Unique Effects of Forgiveness on Health: An Exploration of Pathways. Journal of Behavioral Medicine. 2005;28(2):157-67. doi: 10.1007/s10865-005-3665-2.

Akhtar, S., Dolan, A., & Barlow, J. (2017). Understanding the Relationship Between State Forgiveness and Psychological Wellbeing: A Qualitative Study. Journal of Religion and Health, 56(2), 450–463. http://doi.org.libproxy.lib.unc.edu/10.1007/s10943-016-0188-9

Lawler-Row KA, Karremans JC, Scott C, Edlis-Matityahou M, Edwards L. Forgiveness, physiological reactivity and health: The role of anger. International Journal of Psychophysiology. 2008;68(1):51-8. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijpsycho.2008.01.001.

Rey L, Extremera N. Forgiveness and health-related quality of life in older people: Adaptive cognitive emotion regulation strategies as mediators. Journal of Health Psychology. 2016;21(12):2944-54. doi: 10.1177/1359105315589393. PubMed PMID: 26113528.

Toussaint, L., J.R. Webb.  Theoretical and empirical connections between forgiveness, mental health, and well-being E.L. Worthington Jr (Ed.), Handbook of forgiveness, Brunner–Routledge, New York (2005), pp. 207-226

 

 

 

 

Parkinson’s Disease Research: A Commentary from the Stands and the Playing Field

“You can have a very bad end with Parkinson’s, but on the other hand, you can be like me, because I’m lucky. I’m not having a bad end.” Margo MacDonald

“My age makes me think how valuable life is. How bad is something like Parkinson’s in relation to not having life at all?” Michael J. Fox

Introduction: Last month, together with Dr. Simon Stott and his team of scientists (The Science of Parkinson’s Disease), we co-published a historical timeline of Parkinson’s disease beginning with the description of the ‘shaking palsy’ from James Parkinson in 1817. My post entitled “Milestones in Parkinson’s Disease Research and Discovery” can be read here (click this link). The Science of Parkinson’s Disease post entitled “Milestones in Parkinson’s Disease Research and Discovery” can be read here (click this link).

We spent a lot of time compiling and describing what we felt were some of the most substantial findings during the past 200 years regarding Parkinson’s disease.  I learned a lot; truly amazing what has been accomplished in our understanding of  such a complex and unique disorder.  Simon posted a follow-up note entitled “Editorial: Putting 200 years into context” (click this link). I have decided to also post a commentary from the standpoint of (i) being someone with Parkinson’s and (ii) being a research scientist.

“Every strike brings me closer to the next home run.” Babe Ruth

Baseball: I want to use the analogy of a baseball game to help organize my commentary. Baseball fans sit in the stands and have fun watching the game, thinking about the strategy behind the game, eating/drinking, and sharing the experience with family/friends/colleagues.   Most baseball players begin playing early in life and the ultimate achievement would be to reach the major leagues. And this would usually have taken many years of advancing through different levels of experience on the part of the ballplayer. How does how this analogy work for me in this blog? Stands: I am a person-with-Parkinson’s watching the progress to treat and/or cure this disorder. Playing field: I am a research scientist in a medical school (click here to view my training/credentials).

“Never allow the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game!”  Babe Ruth

Observation from the stands:
I am a spectator like everyone else with Parkinson’s. I read much of the literature available online.  Like you, I think about my disorder; I think about how it’s affecting me every day of my life. Yes, I want a cure for this disease.  Yes, I’m rather impatient too.  I understand the angst and anxiety out there with many of the people with Parkinson’s. In reality, I would not be writing this blog if I didn’t have Parkinson’s. Therefore, I truly sense your frustration that you feel in the presence of Parkinson’s, I do understand.  Given below are examples of various organizations and ads and billboards in support of finding a cure for Parkinson’s.  Some even suggest that a cure must come soon.   However, the rest of my post is going to be dedicated to trying to explain why it’s taking so long; why I am optimistic and positive a cure and better treatment options are going to happen.  And it is partly based on the fact that there really are some amazing people working to cure Parkinson’s and to advance our understanding of this disorder.

“When you come to a fork in the road take it.” Yogi Berra

Observations from the playing field (NIH, war on cancer, research lab, and advancing to a cure for Parkinson’s):

National Institutes of Health (NIH) and biomedical research in the USA: Part of what you have to understand, in the United States at least, is that a large portion of biomedical research is funded by the NIH (and other federally-dependent organizations), which receives a budget from Congress (and the taxpayers). What does it mean for someone with Parkinson’s compared to someone with cancer or diabetes? The amount of federal funds committed to the many diseases studied by NIH-funded-researchers are partly divvied up by the number of people affected. I have prepared a table from the NIH giving the amount of money over the past few years for the top four neurodegenerative disorders, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and Huntington’s Disease, respectively [taken from “Estimates of Funding for Various Research, Condition, and Disease Categories” (click here)]. And this is compared to cancer and coronary arterial disease and a few other major diseases. Without going into the private organizations that fund research, a large amount of money comes from the NIH. Unfortunately, from 2003-2015, the NIH lost >20% of its budget for funding research (due to budget cuts, sequestration, and inflationary losses; click here to read further).   Therefore,  it is not an overstatement to say getting  funded today by the NIH is fiercely competitive.  From 1986 to 2015, my lab group was supported by several NIH grants and fellowships  (and we also received funding from the American Heart Association and Komen for the Cure).

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“In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. But in practice, there is.” Yogi Berra

War against cancer: In 1971, Pres. Richard Nixon declared war against cancer and Congress passed the National Cancer Act.  This created a new national mandate “to support research and application of the results of research to reduce the incident, morbidity, and mortality from cancer.” Today, cancer is still the second leading cause of death in the USA; however, we’ve come such a long way to improving this statistic from when the Cancer Act was initiated.

Scientifically, in the 1970’s, we were just learning about oncogenes and the whole field of molecular biology was really in its infancy. We had not even started sequencing the human genome, or even of any organism.  We discovered genes that could either promote or suppress cellular growth.   We began to delineate the whole system of cell signaling and communications with both normal and malignant cells. We now know there are certain risk factors that allow us to identify people that may have increased risk for certain cancers. Importantly,  we came to realize that not all cancers were alike,  and it offered the notion to design treatment strategies for each individual cancer.  For example,  we now have very high cure rates for childhood acute leukemia and Hodgkin’s lymphoma and we have significantly improved survival statistics for women with breast cancer. Many might say this was a boondoggle and that we wasted billions of dollars  funding basic biomedical research on cancer; however, basic  biomedical research is expensive and translating that into clinical applications is even more expensive.  [ For a  very nice short review on cancer research please see the following article, it may be freely accessible by now: DeVita Jr, Vincent T., and Steven A. Rosenberg. “Two hundred years of cancer research.” New England Journal of Medicine 366.23 (2012): 2207-2214.]

“One of the beautiful things about baseball is that every once in a while you come into a situation where you want to, and where you have to, reach down and prove something.” Nolan Ryan

The biomedical research laboratory environment:  A typical laboratory group setting is depicted in the drawing below. The research lab usually consists of the lead scientist who has the idea to study a research topic, getting grants funded and in recruiting a lab group to fulfill the goals of the project.  Depending on the philosophy of the project leader the lab may resemble very much like the schematic below or may be altered to have primarily technicians or senior postdoctoral fellows working in the lab  (as two alternative formats). A big part of academic research laboratories is education and training the students and postdocs to go on to advance their own careers; then you replace the people that have left and you continue your own research.  Since forming my own lab group in 1986, I have helped train over 100 scientists in the research laboratory: 17 graduate students, 12 postdoctoral fellows, 17 medical students, and 64 undergraduates. The lab has been as large as 10 people and a small as it is currently is now with two people. People come to your lab group because they like what you’re doing scientifically and this is where they want to belong for their own further training and advancement.  This description is for an academic research  laboratory; and  I should also emphasize that many people get trained in federal government-supported organizations, private Pharma and other types of research environments that may differ in their laboratory structure and organizational format.

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“Hitting is 50% above the shoulders.” Ted Williams

 In search of the cure for Parkinson’s:    First, I understand the situation you’re in with Parkinson’s because I’m living through the same situation.   But when people find out I’m a research scientist they always wonder why aren’t we doing more to find a cure, and I  hear the sighs of frustration and I see the anxiety in their faces. Second, the previous three sections are not meant to be an excuse for why there is still no cure for Parkinson’s. It is presented in the reality of what biomedical research scientists must undergo to study a topic.  Third, the experiments that take place in basic biomedical research laboratory may happen over weeks to months if successful. Taking that laboratory data to the clinic and further takes months and years to succeed if at all.   The section on cancer reminds me a lot of where we are going with Parkinson’s and trying to advance new paradigms in the treatment and curative strategies.  Professionally, I have even decided  to pursue research funding in the area of Parkinson’s disease.   Why not spend the rest of my academic career studying my own disease; in the least I can help educate others about this disorder. Furthermore, I can assure you from my reading and meeting people over the last couple of years, there are many hundreds of scientists and clinicians throughout this world studying Parkinson’s and trying to advance our understanding and derive a cure.  I see their devotion, I see their commitment to helping cure our disorder.

The science behind Parkinson’s is quite complicated. These complications suggest that Parkinson’s may be more of a syndrome rather than a disease. Instead of a one-size-fits-all like a disease would be classified; Parkinson’s as a syndrome would be a group of symptoms which consistently occur together.  What this might imply is that some treatment strategy might work remarkably well on some patients but have no effect on others. However, without a detailed understanding and advancement of what Parkinson’s really is we will never reach the stage where we can cure this disorder.

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In a recent blog from the Science of Parkinson’s disease, Simon nicely summarized all the current research in 2017 in Parkinson’s disease (click here to read this post). To briefly summarize what he said is that there are multiple big Pharma collaborations occurring to study Parkinson’s.  There are more than 20 clinical trials currently being done in various stages of completion to prevent disease progression but also to try to cure the disorder.  From a search of the literature, there are literally hundreds of research projects going on that promise to advance our understanding of this disorder. With the last point, it still will take time to happen. Finally, I am a realist but I’m also optimistic and positive that we’re making incredible movement toward much better therapies, which will eventually lead to curative options for Parkinson’s.

And a final analogy to baseball and Parkinson’s, as Tommy Lasorda said “There are three types of baseball players: those who make it happen, those who watch it happen, and those who wonder what happens.”  I really want to be one of those scientists that help make it happen (or at least to help advance our understanding of the disorder).

“You can’t expect life to play fair with your heart or your brain or your health. That’s not the nature of the game we call life. You have to recognize the nature of the game and know that you can do your best to make the right choices, but life if going to do whatever the hell it pleases to you anyway. All you can control is how you react to whatever life throws at you. You can shut down or you can soar.” Holly Nicole Hoxter

Cover photo credit: PNC Park photo: i.imgur.com/32RWncK

Sign post scienceofparkinsons.com/

Chapter 8: A Parkinson’s Reading Companion on Mindfulness

“The moment one gives close attention to anything, even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself.” Henry Miller

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” Dumbledore in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Précis: The students from my undergraduate course, “Biology of Blood Diseases”, submitted quotes about these words: hope, courage, journey, persistence, positivity, strength, adversity, mindfulness, and life (for further details click here). This blog post is Chapter 8 including all of their quotes about ‘mindfulness’ [click here to read Chapter 1 (hope); click here to read Chapter 2 (life); click here to read Chapter 3 (strength); click here to read Chapter 4 (adversity); click here to read Chapter 5 (positivity); click here to read Chapter 6 (courage); click here to read Chapter 7 (persistence)].

Mindfulness and Parkinson’s: Recently, I described mindfulness (click here to read post):  “The simplest view of mindfulness is to be aware of what is happening right now, unable to change this time but to embrace the current moment. Much of our lives are led at a pace where we fret for the future, remorseful of the past, and frequently, we are oblivious to the current moment.” Life with Parkinson’s is best lived in the current moment without dwelling on the past and dreading the future.  To my thinking, this comment by Michael J. Fox is a nice description of mindfulness in the presence of Parkinson’s where he embraces (accepts) the current moment, “There’s an idea I came across a few years ago that I love. My happiness grows in direct proportion [to] my acceptance and in inverse proportion to my expectations. That’s the key for me. If I can accept the truth of ‘This is what I’m facing — not what can I expect but what I am experiencing now’ — then I have all this freedom to do other things.” May these quotes on mindfulness allow you to focus on what’s happening right now, and they remind you to be mindful and thankful for what you have today.

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Mindfulness:  I am pleased to present Chapter 8 about mindfulness with my co-authors: Angle, Hannah; Arthur, Kallie; Artov, Michael; Bagley, Kendall; Batista, Kayla; Blaylock, Allison; Byrd, Emory; Cabell, Grant; Catalano, Michael; Clark, Kendall; Cossaart, Kristen; Culpepper, Houston; Das, Snigdha; Davis, Eric; Defazio, Stephanie; Doudnikoff, Alex; Dua, Shawn; Evans, Jessica; Evick, Andrew; Farooque, Tazeen; Ford, Kelsey; German, Zachary; Gouveia, Katie; Hall, Nikita; Isler, Victoria; Kirkley, Joel; Koutleva, Elitza; Laudun, Katie; Le, Kevin; Little, Sarah; Mackey, Josselyn; Macon, Briana; Maddox, Kaity; Marquino, Grace; Mattox, Daniel; Mcknight, Kyle; Mcmanus, Brenna; Mcshane, Sarah; Monkiewicz, Caroline; Nguyen, Michelle; Nguyen, Teresa; Olinger, Emily; Patel, Darshan; Patel, Dilesh; Patel, Jenny; Perez, Abby; Peters, Daniel; Quirin, Julia; Rawlins, Shelby; Raynor, Nathan; Renn, Matt; Scott, Alicia; Sherry, Alex; Shin, Christine; Stanton, Kate; Story, Charlotte; Swango, Summer; Szyperski, Caroline; Windley, Taylor; Wooley, Caleb; Xu, Alice; Yang, Michelle.

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” Albert Einstein

“A little consideration, a little thought for others, makes all the difference.” Eeyore (Winnie the Pooh)

“To see a world in a grain of sand and heaven in a wild flower. Hold infinity in the palm of your hand and eternity in an hour.” William Blake

“Mind is a flexible mirror, adjust it, to see a better world.”Amit Ray

“You are confined only by the walls you build yourself.” Andrew Murphy

“Life is a dance. Mindfulness is witnessing that dance.” Amit Ray

“Stop, breathe, look around
and embrace the miracle of each day,
the miracle of life.”
Jeffrey A. White

“So often, we become focused on the finish line that we fail to enjoy the journey.” Dieter F. Uchtdorf

“How to stop time: kiss. How to travel in time: read. How to escape time: music. How to feel time: write. How to release time: breathe.” Matt Haig

“Science and mindfulness complement each other in helping people to eat well and maintain their health and well-being.” Nhat Hanh

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5

“If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.” C.S. Lewis

“Nothing is more important than empathy for another human being’s suffering. Not a career. Not wealth. Not intelligence. Certainly not status. We have to feel for one another if we’re going to survive with dignity.” Audrey Hepburn

“The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive, you will see it.” Thich Nhat Hanh

 “The most important thing is to try and inspire people so that they can be great in whatever they want to do.” Kobe Bryant

“Make sure your worst enemy isn’t living between your own two ears.” Laird Hamilton

“Be gentle with yourself; you’re doing the best you can.” Unknown

“We’re all a little crazy. Some just hide it better than others.” Kermit the Frog

“We have no right to ask when a sorrow comes, ‘why did this happen to me?’ unless we ask the same question for every joy that comes our way.” Anonymous

“Do not ruin today with mourning tomorrow.” Catherynne M. Valente

“Some people feel the rain. Others just get wet.” Bob Dylan

“Let us not look back in anger, nor forward in fear, but around in awareness.” James Thurber

“Quiet people have the loudest minds.” Stephen King

“The key to creating the mental space before responding is mindfulness. Mindfulness is a way of being present: paying attention to and accepting what is happening in our lives. It helps us to be aware of and step away from our automatic and habitual reactions to our everyday experiences.” Elizabeth Thornton

“Be happy in the moment, that’s enough. Each moment is all we need, not more.” Mother Teresa

 “A mind is like a parachute. It doesn’t work if it is not open.” Frank Zappa

“Mindfulness is the aware, balanced acceptance of the present experience. It isn’t more complicated than that. It is opening to or receiving the present moment, pleasant or unpleasant, just as it is, without either clinging to it or rejecting it.” Sylvia Boorstein

“There is plenty of time, but each moment counts.”  Billy Graham

 “For every minute you remain angry, you give up sixty seconds of peace of mind.”  Ralph Waldo Emerson

“When things are going well, be mindful of adversity.
When prosperous, be mindful of poverty.
When loved, be mindful of thoughtfulness.
When respected, be mindful of humility.”
Buddha

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better, it’s not.” Dr. Seuss, The Lorax

“The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.” Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

“Mindfulness is simply being aware of what is happening right now without wishing it were different; enjoying the pleasant without holding on when it changes (which it will); being with the unpleasant without fearing it will always be this way (which it won’t).” James Baraz 

Cover photo credit: http://www.wallpapers13.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Coast-beach-spring-flowers-HD-wallpaper.jpg

Mindfulness images: http://ritaharvey.counselling.co.uk/_sitedata/1398682330%206ZngCeReO/today.png; http://rootedreveries.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/Mindfulness-quote.jpg; http://www.verybestquotes.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/Mindfulness-quotes-acceptance-joy-peace-and-love.-Thich-Nhat-Hanh-Quotes.jpg; http://static.oprah.com/images/201204/orig/quotes-thich-nhat-hanh-06-600×411.jpg.

 

 

Chapter 4: A Parkinson’s Reading Companion on Adversity

“Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny.” C.S. Lewis

“Opportunities to find deeper powers within ourselves come when life seems most challenging.” Joseph Campbell 

Précis: The students from my undergraduate course, “Biology of Blood Diseases”, submitted quotes about these words: hope, courage, journey, persistence, positivity, strength, adversity, mindfulness, and life (for further details click here). This blog post is Chapter 4 including all of their quotes about ‘adversity’ [click here to read Chapter 1 (hope); click here to read Chapter 2 (life); click here to read Chapter 3 (strength)].

Adversity and Parkinson’s: Merriam-Webster defines adversity as  a state or instance of serious or continued difficulty or misfortune; adversity certainly comes with Parkinson’s. Most people do not have Parkinson’s yet we typically all have had some kind of adversity in our lives. How we deal with adversity and how we recover from adversity can certainly help define our lives. May these quotes on adversity enable you to withstand the daily annoyances from Parkinson’s and may they help others in the midst of adversity.

Adversity:  I am pleased to present Chapter 4 about adversity with my co-authors: Angle, Hannah; Arthur, Kallie; Artov, Michael; Bagley, Kendall; Batista, Kayla; Blaylock, Allison; Byrd, Emory; Cabell, Grant; Catalano, Michael; Clark, Kendall; Cossaart, Kristen; Culpepper, Houston; Das, Snigdha; Davis, Eric; Defazio, Stephanie; Doudnikoff, Alex; Dua, Shawn; Evans, Jessica; Evick, Andrew; Farooque, Tazeen; Ford, Kelsey; German, Zachary; Gouveia, Katie; Hall, Nikita; Isler, Victoria; Kirkley, Joel; Koutleva, Elitza; Laudun, Katie; Le, Kevin; Little, Sarah; Mackey, Josselyn; Macon, Briana; Maddox, Kaity; Marquino, Grace; Mattox, Daniel; Mcknight, Kyle; Mcmanus, Brenna; Mcshane, Sarah; Monkiewicz, Caroline; Nguyen, Michelle; Nguyen, Teresa; Olinger, Emily; Patel, Darshan; Patel, Dilesh; Patel, Jenny; Perez, Abby; Peters, Daniel; Quirin, Julia; Rawlins, Shelby; Raynor, Nathan; Renn, Matt; Scott, Alicia; Sherry, Alex; Shin, Christine; Stanton, Kate; Story, Charlotte; Swango, Summer; Szyperski, Caroline; Windley, Taylor; Wooley, Caleb; Xu, Alice; Yang, Michelle.

“We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.” -Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture 

“I know not all that may be coming, but be it what it will, I’ll go to it laughing.” -Herman Melville’s Moby Dick

“Success is never so interesting as struggle- not even to the successful” Willa Cather

“Adversity introduces a man to himself” Albert Einstein

“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.” Maya Angelou

“Education is an ornament in prosperity and a refuge in adversity.” Aristotle

“If the road is easy, you’re likely going the wrong way.”  Terry Goodkind

 “The flower that blooms in adversity is the most rare and beautiful of all.” The Emperor Mulan

It’s not the load that breaks you down. It’s the way you carry it.” C.S. Lewis

“One day, in retrospect, the years of struggle will strike you as the most beautiful.” Sigmund Freud

“Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of overcoming it.” Helen Keller

“Only in the darkness can you see the stars.” Martin Luther King Jr.

“Though my soul may set in darkness, it will rise in perfect light; I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night.” The Old Astronomer and His Pupil by Sarah William

“Life is tough my darling, but so are you.” Stephanie Bennett-Henry

“Everyone goes through adversity in life, but what matters is how you learn from it.” Lou Holtz

“Sometimes it is the people no one imagines anything of who do the things no one can imagine.” “The Imitation Game”

“The pain you feel today is the strength you feel tomorrow. For every challenge encountered there is opportunity for growth.”  Unknown

“If you live long enough, you’ll make mistakes. But if you learn from them, you’ll be a better person. It’s how you handle adversity, not how it affects you. The main thing is never quit, never quit, never quit.”  William J. Clinton 

“When written in Chinese, the word “crisis” is composed of two characters – one represents danger, and the other represents opportunity.” John Fitzgerald Kennedy

“The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.” Kahlil Gibran

“Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.” Martin Luther King Jr.

 “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Nelson Mandela

“Everyone wants happiness; no one wants pain. But you can’t make a rainbow without a little rain.” Anonymous

“Adversity makes men, and prosperity makes monsters.” Victor Hugo

“If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door” Milton Berle

“Never to suffer would never to have been blessed.” Edgar Allan Poe

“It’s always darkest before the dawn.” Thomas Fuller

 “The next time you face difficulty, or even if you just need a reminder of who you are, go outside on a clear night, look up at the stars, and think of how great it is that of all the places in the universe, you are right where you are. And as you’re looking up, put your hand on your heart and know that no one else, *no one*, has your particular purpose or opportunities.” (from a dear friend, Randy Mullis)

“The flower that blooms in adversity is the rarest and most beautiful of all.” Mulan

“Adversity has the effect of eliciting talents, which in prosperous circumstances would have lain dormant.” Horace

“Whatever you fight, you strengthen, and what you resist, persists.” Eckhart Tolle

Let me embrace thee, sour adversity, for wise men say it is the wisest course.” William Shakespeare

“Adversity is the diamond-dust that the universe uses to polish its brightest stars.” Thomas Carlyle

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.” Nelson Mandela

“Crying helps me slow down and obsess over the weight of life’s problems.” Sadness, Inside Out

“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.” – Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

Cover photo credit: http://www.beaconhouseinnb-b.com/wp-content/uploads/dawn-at-spring-lake-beach-bill-mckim.jpg

Life Happens: Believe, Accept, and Understand

“Life always waits for some crisis to occur before revealing itself at its most brilliant.” Paulo Coelho

“Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something and that this thing must be attained.” Marie Curie

Believe in yourself, as you live with/through ______ [you fill-in-the-blank (for me, it’s Parkinson’s)]:
I believe that staying hopeful allows me to better understand my Parkinson’s.
I believe that being persistent will help me resist progression of my disorder.
I believe that remaining positive is life re-affirming.
I believe that having strength/courage enables me to live-forward.
I believe that self-pity fuels the fire of my Parkinson’s.
I believe in the power of education.
And I believe in the amazing support of my family/loved-ones, friends, students, colleagues, and health-care team.

“Believe you can and you’re halfway there.” Theodore Roosevelt

“Believe that life is worth living and your belief will help create the fact.” William James

“Believe in yourself and all that you are. Know that there is something inside you that is greater than any obstacle.”  Christian D. Larson

Accept the cards you are dealt, but you decide how to play the hand with ______ [you fill-in-the-blank (for me, it’s Parkinson’s)]:
I accept my Parkinson’s, but I refuse to let it define me.
I accept that my future days will range from great to not-so-great, yet I won’t make excuses.
I accept my future life and will use my educational credentials to inform others about Parkinson’s.
I accept the challenge of living with the insidious Parkinson’s, and its subtle evolving manner.
I accept that my life, work, and leisure time will remain focused for years to come with my disorder in the background.
And I accept and acknowledge the wonderful encouragement of my family/loved-ones, friends, students, colleagues, and health-care team.

“You have to accept the storms and the rainy days and the things in life that you sometimes don’t want to face.” Bai Ling

“You have to accept whatever comes and the only important thing is that you meet it with courage and with the best that you have to give.” Eleanor Roosevelt

“Accept responsibility for your life. Know that it is you who will get you where you want to go, no one else.”  Les Brown

Understand that your life may be challenged by obstacles like ______ [you fill-in-the-blank (for me, it’s Parkinson’s)]; however, it’s still your life to lead:
I understand my journey ahead; although I may stumble occasionally, I will get up and keep going-working-living.
I understand my future involves listening to many different experts; using, learning, and embracing their advice.
I understand my biggest ally is me; and my ability to balance and manage life minute-to-minute, day-by-day.
I understand my success in mastering my Parkinson’s will require constant effort because it will never ever take-a-day-off.
I understand my future is full of life and wholeheartedness; by staying involved, I can try to handle the advancing subtle adversity.
I understand that I must stay educated/informed of advances on neurodegenerative disorders; I am convinced that better therapies and cures are coming.
And I understand the strength of constant help from my family/loved-ones, friends, students, colleagues, and health-care team.

“Keep your dreams alive. Understand to achieve anything requires faith and belief in yourself, vision, hard work, determination, and dedication. Remember all things are possible for those who believe.” Gail Devers

“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.” Marie Curie

“People fear what they do not understand.” A.J. Darkholme

Life Happens- Believe, Accept, and Understand: The path our lives take are all different/varied; how we accomplish the journey is how our lives live out. At times, life is figuring out how to hit the best curve ball pitcher in baseball.  Whether we hit or miss the pitched ball, life happens; and it can be easy/hard, simple/complicated, happy/sad, successful/unsuccessful, and healthy/sick.

We must believe we have all the ingredients available to overcome the challenges in our lives.  We must accept that obstacles may exist; but like any speed breaker, the road of life will (hopefully) smooth out just ahead. We must understand that our lives can remain full while we deal with adversity; remember the sun usually follows the summer’s afternoon thunderstorm.

And don’t forget to thank and acknowledge those along the way in your journey, including your family/loved-ones, friends, and colleagues (for me I add students and health-care team). Stay hopeful, positive, persistent, strong/courageous, educated, happy, and loving while your life happens.

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