Chuck, I’m usually not a negative person, but lately I have been because of some tough times I’m facing. Any word of advice? – Susanna C., Montana
Sometimes life throws obstacles at us so big that we feel like retreating and sighing, “I can’t go on.”
At times, it seems so easy to be discouraged and so difficult to pick ourselves up and keep going.
I remember a time or two in my own life when someone would say, “If life gives you lemons, make lemonade,” but all I felt like doing was throwing the lemons (been there, done that?).
Jothy Rosenberg understands. At age 16, he lost one of his legs to bone cancer. At 19, when the cancer metastasized and spread to his lungs, he had to have one of his lungs removed, as well. He wasn’t expected to live. In fact, his doctor warned, “When this cancer metastasizes, no one has survived.”
But 35 years later, Jothy is not only alive but also living his dreams.
Who could argue that Rosenberg had both big physical and psychological obstacles to overcome? He actually testified in a recent interview on Fox News’ “Health Talk” that the mental obstacles were much more difficult to overcome than the physical ones.
Many people in Rosenberg’s shoes (or, should I say, shoe) have given up. Millions upon millions spiral downward and sedate their minds in the face of such misfortune, blaming their woes upon the catastrophic cards dealt to them in this life. But not Jothy.
Rosenberg chose sports as the vehicle to help him overcome what physically and psychologically inhibited him. He started with skiing and went on to biking and swimming. He then took the principles of overcoming that he had learned and applied them to the business world, and he became a successful entrepreneur and CEO. Jothy earned a doctorate in computer science, was on the faculty of Duke University for five years and started eight high-tech companies – two of which sold for more than $100 million. He is also the author of four books.
Rosenberg says it took 25 to 30 years to prepare him to write his most recent book. He didn’t just want to pen another cancer or amputee survivor book; he wanted it to aid others in overcoming their own obstacles. He appropriately titled his book “Who Says I Can’t?”
The title reminds me of the main theme of my friend’s brand-new martial arts studio. Ed Saenz, a ninth-degree black belt in Chun Kuk Do – my own particular method and technique of martial arts – is opening his school in Tomball, Texas, (the grand opening of which my wife, Gena, and I will attend Sept. 24) and embedded the words “I can do all things” in his logo and on his studio walls. It is a critical truth abbreviated from this biblical verse: “I can do all things through God, who strengthens me.”
The point is that God has empowered every human with the resources and autonomy to live, excel, overcome and even heal. We were created to use our faith and cranial powers to enhance the will to fight and win. As Jothy Rosenberg’s life shows, when the world says you can’t, courage and determination can show otherwise. That is also why my first principle for life is this: “I will develop myself to the maximum of my potential in all ways.”
The University of Maryland Medical Center’s website states: “While phrases such as ‘mind over matter’ have been around for years, only recently have scientists found solid evidence that mind-body techniques actually do fight disease and promote health. In 1989, for example, a clinical study by David Spiegel, M.D., at Stanford University School of Medicine demonstrated the power of the mind to heal. Of 86 women with late-stage breast cancer, half received standard medical care while the other half received standard care plus weekly support sessions. … The women who participated in the social support group lived twice as long as the women who did not.”
The University of Maryland Medical Center reports that mind-body techniques can help treat many different diseases, including high blood pressure; asthma; coronary heart disease; obesity; pain and nausea/vomiting related to chemotherapy; insomnia; anxiety; diabetes; stomach and intestinal problems, including indigestion, irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, diarrhea, ulcerative colitis, heartburn and Crohn’s disease; fibromyalgia; and menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes, depression and irritability.
In 2010, Science Daily reported that the mind may play a more critical role in overcoming addictions, such as smoking, than formerly believed. A study from Tel Aviv University’s psychology department found that cravings for cigarettes were more the result of psychosocial elements of smoking than they were the physiological effects of nicotine as an addictive chemical.
And a May study by Yale University even suggested that people’s state of mind influences “how physically satisfied they feel after a meal and how likely they are to still feel hungry and consume additional food.” The research team focused on levels of ghrelin, which is known as the “hunger hormone” because it stimulates feelings of hunger. Levels of ghrelin were varied not by what was or what was not consumed, but by what the brain believed was being consumed.
“This study shows that mindset can affect feelings of physical satiety,” concluded lead author Alia Crum.
Hippocrates, the father of medicine, was absolutely correct: “The natural healing force within each one of us is the greatest force in getting well.”
Whether overcoming physical limitations, low self-worth, addictions, unemployment blues or relational trenches, we definitely can experience a better day by fighting to eliminate what I call our “stinking thinking.”
As Mark Twain once said, even “age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.”