My sudden reminder of my own mortality came five years ago in my mid-twenties when I was diagnosed with cancer. Until then my life was largely unremarkable. I was stuck in the rat race and defined success by job titles and paychecks. Outwardly I was successful, but I felt deeply unfulfilled.
Cancer, for all its downfalls, has been the greatest blessing of my life. The clarifying force that came with the prospect of death gave me confidence to re-evaluate and reconstruct a new way of living. It gave me the courage to live with real passion, unrestrained by expectations. It showed me the importance of throwing myself into everything that makes me feel alive with my whole heart, and without regret. It taught me love hard and go full throttle at what I want from life.
Cancer gave me the opportunity to remove myself from fear, from ambitions, from attachment to material things and the concept of status. It also reminded me to appreciate the everyday moments that I once took for granted. It strengthened bonds with family and friends in a way words can't describe. It brought me close to nature in a way I couldn’t have imagined possible and what I learnt from that life-affirming experience continues to shape and strengthen me.
Ultimately, cancer taught me to cherish the simplest moments that make up my life and take pleasure in the smallest of joys. Opening my senses to the world and deeply connecting with the moment I’m experiencing makes me feel alive. Those fleeting, unexplainable seconds that appear as nothing, yet mean everything, and leave an imprint on your heart once they’ve passed are what make up our memories.
I've been given a new lens through which to view the world, now seeing things that I had never paid attention to before with striking vibrancy and vividness. I feel incredibly lucky to experience the beauty that surrounds me every day and to still have a place within it.
I choose to live deliberately and purposefully, knowing that there is a deep connection between my good health and the ability to enjoy every aspect of my daily life. A recent study by Bupa Health Clinics found that almost 70% of adults overlook the role that feeling well plays in enjoying our everyday lives. I can believe this – I was one of those people – and until I fell ill I believed I was as invincible as anyone.
Society is plagued by a perception gap driven by a ‘grass is greener’ culture where we consistently live for the future rather than the here and now. The ‘I’ll be happy once I’ve xyz’ mind set is skewing our sense of reality and the sad fact is that all these special (yet seemingly insignificant) everyday moments we are gifted with are lost in the noise of life.
After my diagnosis I made a promise to myself that I would fully embrace the second chance I’d been given and build a life that I’m both deeply in love with and truly proud of. The journey to living as my most honest and authentic self is still work in progress, and I’m still learning every day. Sometimes I lose sight of what it means, sometimes I'm plagued with fears around my biggest insecurities to the point I hardly recognise myself and my decisions, but I know that every challenge and obstacle I confront is a stepping stone closer to where I want to get to.
The prospect of death has a transformational power that is accessible to every one of us, provided we’re courageous enough to embrace it. We can use it to make conscious choices that create meaning in our lives, providing liberating and awakening experience to help us take better control of decisions around both our health and lives.
By maintaining consciousness of our own mortality it will encourage us to live authentically and fully - for the very first time. Try it.
You can never predict the future but you can make sure you’re giving yourself the best possible chance by looking after yourself now.
Chat to your GP about any concerns you have about your lifestyle, or you could consider booking a private assessment such as Bupa’s Health Assessment which will give you a picture of your health, and provide coaching on the improvements you could be making. And you don’t need insurance!
In the meantime, please get involved in the #EverydayMoments campaign by sharing what you’re grateful for and using the hashtag.
Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Bupa Health Clinics. As always, my opinions are honest and my own.