About six months ago, I ruptured both my Achilles tendons. I could no longer walk for exercise. I still can’t. I also have to walk slowly. How discouraging! From the advice of a sports medicine doctor, however, I’ve learned a process of time-consuming rehabilitation. As time goes on and I follow the prescription, my heels are (slowly) getting better. Long stretches of time, I become aware, I’m pain and discomfort free. Because my heels continue to heal, I feel better. We all understand how that works, but what about the reverse? Can our attitude affect our physical healing?
When we’re sick or injured, we can feel down, discouraged, and maybe even defeated. Some people may even have reason to feel depressed. Could “I’ve Got a New Attitude,” theme song of a former popular radio talk show, help us dig out from under illness?
Recently, I’ve begun reading Anatomy of an Illness, by Norman Cousins (1979). Diagnosed with a disintegration of his spinal connective tissue, Cousins, at the time editor of Saturday Review literary magazine, began to read about the importance of attitude in illness. As an experiment, and with his doctor’s permission, he took steps to change his attitude–and heal his illness.
Two obstacles arose to his plan. 1) How would he be able to survive without pain medication? 2) How would the hospital deal with his new “treatment”?