The cards were stacked against me! If I were to examine my lung history I could find easily 10 reasons that I have COPD at age 56.
- Lung disease “runs in the family’
- I had poor lung health as a child with multiple upper respiratory infections
- My siblings also had lung issues at an early age
- I was exposed to farm pollutants (and most likely, asbestos)
- I was exposed to second hand smoke as a child (heck, even my Doctor smoked right in front of me!)
- My parents smoked in an enclosed car for hours long road trips
- I worked in a high exposure job around second hand smoke every day for years
- I had undiagnosed (and untreated) asthma and chronic bronchitis
- I suffered from and reported to my physician chronic cough and shortness of breath but was never tested for COPD
- And, of course, I smoked intermittently for 20 years
What makes the difference in the quality of people’s lives? What is the single factor that shapes and controls our ultimate destiny?
Most people think that biography is destiny, that the past equals the future. And you know what? It can—but only if you live there. Any study of history shows that the difference in human beings comes down to one thing: an ability to harness the power of decision, often in spite of adverse conditions. The history of our world is the result of decisions.
It’s the power of decision that caused Rosa Parks to remain in her seat and state, “No, I will not go to the back of the bus.” It took a forceful decision to compel an unarmed man to stand in front of a tank at Tiananmen Square. It was the strength of decision that led President John F. Kennedy to declare that an American would be first to walk on the moon by the end of the 1960s.
Decision is the ultimate power—and there are three core decisions each of us makes every moment we’re alive. These decisions have the capacity to empower, advance, frustrate or derail us, depending on what we choose:
Decision 1: What are you going to focus on?
Do you focus on things you’re excited about or things you fear? Whatever you focus on, you experience. Wherever focus goes, energy flows.
I chose to focus on establishing and maintaining an excellent quality of life. I often say that I’m healthier and happier now than I have ever been in my life (except my lungs!) That would not have been possible as a smoker.
Decision 2: What does this mean?
Is this the end or the beginning? Are you being punished or rewarded? The minute you decide to focus on something, you give it a meaning. How you define an event produces emotion and determines how you feel going forward.
Was I doomed because I was diagnosed with COPD? OR was I given the opportunity to change my lifestyle before my health deteriorated even more? After all, Half of all those who have COPD don’t even know it and I was diagnosed at a relatively early Stage! I chose to look at my diagnosis as the beginning of a whole new world of lung health and self maintenance! The first decision I made even before I walked out of the doctors' office was to quit smoking, which I did within 6 days of diagnosis 1701 days ago!
Decision 3: What are you going to do?
Are you going to give up or follow through? The meanings we assign to events influence what actions we take as a result. It’s our decisions, not our conditions, that ultimately shape the quality of our lives. At any moment the decision you make can change the course of your life forever.
I decided to quit smoking, change my nutrition plan, become more involved with exercise, avoid pollutants, increase hygiene, take my medications, and regularly attend my doctor’s appointments.
The pay-off? Better lung health and overall health than I’ve had in years, or ever! I took charge of my health and didn’t just leave it up to destiny!
“Success and failure are not overnight experiences. It’s the small decisions along the way that cause people to fail or succeed.”