Thursday, January 13, 2022

Michael J. Fox On Gratitude

 

If you're aware of Michael J. Fox at all, you probably remember him as the star of the successful sitcom Family Ties and the three Back to the Future films. You may also identify him as the amazingly optimistic actor who has been fighting Parkinson's for three decades.


You may not have heard that in 2018, he had surgery to partially remove a benign tumor that was coiled around his spinal cord and that four months later he fell at home, resulting in a shattered left arm that had to be stabilized with a metal plate and 19 screws.

At this point, let me quote from an article by Andrew Corsello published in AARP The Magazine:

"As he dropped into what he says was a prolonged 'dark patch,' Fox began questioning everything  -  even his own optimism. Is it still possible for me to be optimistic and realistic at the same time? he asked himself. In other words, had the price of keeping up a good face, of striving to remain the playful, glass-half-full guy audiences had always loved, of being 'Michael J. Fox,' become too steep?"

Perhaps not surprisingly, he did indeed find a way to become optimistic again, and shared his secret in answer to the question, How did you pull out of that dark place your surgery and fall had plunged you into?

"For one thing, I am genuinely a happy guy. I don't have a morbid thought in my head  -  I don't fear death. At all. But as I came through that darkness, I also had an insight about my father-in-law, who had passed away and always espoused gratitude and acceptance and confidence. And I started to notice things I was grateful for and the way other people would respond to difficulty with gratitude. I concluded that gratitude makes optimism sustainable. And if you don't think you have anything to be grateful for, keep looking. Because you don't just receive optimism. You can't wait for things to be great and then be grateful for that. You've got to behave in a way that promotes that."


Truth is...If you're worried and you can't sleep, just count your blessings instead of sheep, and you'll fall asleep counting your blessings. (Irving Berlin)


Thursday, January 6, 2022

Are We Spinning Our Wheels?

 

You've heard the phrase "spinning our wheels," right? It refers to having a vehicle sitting in mud or snow or on a patch of ice and being able to supply power to the drivetrain and turn the wheels, but with no traction, not being able to move the vehicle forward.


According to the following quote from The Body by Bill Bryson, something similar can happen in the practice of medicine:

We have reached the decidedly bizarre point in health care in which pharmaceutical companies are producing drugs that do exactly what they are designed to do but without necessarily doing any good. A case in point is the drug atenolol, a beta-blocker designed to lower blood pressure, which has been widely prescribed since 1976. A study in 2004, involving a total of twenty-four thousand patients, found that atenolol did indeed reduce blood pressure but did not reduce heart attacks or fatalities compared with giving no treatment at all. People on atenolol expired at the same rate as everyone else, but as one observer put it "they just had better blood-pressure numbers when they died."

It makes me wonder if sometimes the church might be guilty of the same thing. A group of people who all believe basically the same things about Jesus meet together and pray and study the Bible and sing. They have a sign out front and parking out back and pay their bills consistently. They "do church" just fine, but seem to have no effect on the neighborhood they're in other than making the restaurants busy for Sunday lunch.

Truth is...I sometimes wonder if the same can be said about me.