Understanding the meaning of life is something that shows up in humanities philosophical work, back through the ages to the ancient Greeks. We are not suggesting you try and uncover the meaning of life whilst you undergo cancer treatment, simply that you uncover what drives your life. What gives your life a sense of meaning and purpose?
Survivors we interviewed repeatedly spoke of seeing life differently now, compared to their life before – viewing their diagnosis and cancer becoming life altering. Appreciating the high value of the now – the simple and readily available life – instead of mourning over lost dreams and derailed plans.
“I have today” said Doris a 50 year old patient of colon cancer “That’s a lot to be grateful for”.
To label this as a strategy is inadequate, this is a deep change, processed by different people at their own pace.
The perspective of viewing life with meaning and purpose is not an issue of religion. Indeed many survivors we spoke to had rejected traditional religious practices. You simply have to find what will work for you.
Finding the meaning and purpose that will drive you forward is about cultivating a sense of inner peace, a serenity, a quiet confidence and a more grateful and joyous way of living.
Guidelines for greater Meaning & Purpose
- Find time to be quiet and practice deep relaxation daily for 10 minutes (this will help decrease your stress hormones and will improve your quality of life)
- Engage in meditation daily (and/or prayer if you are religious)
- Spend some time in nature, enjoying the world (try and get outdoors in the fresh air)
- Practice yoga, tai chi or a form of relaxation
- Journaling (write about your concerns, activities, joys)
- Try Art, music or dance either as therapy or for fun
- Breath work (increases relaxation)
- Take naps of up to 40 minutes (can be restorative and helps commit things to memory)
- Take care of your feet, a simple massage and reflexology of the toes can help with full body relaxation