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Choosing Kindness This Year in My Life With Multiple Sclerosis

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As I look back on 2019 I am grateful for many things. I have a blessed life despite its many challenges. I have a great husband. I am thankful to have lived, loved, and overcome a lot with my life partner of soon-to-be 25 years. I am grateful my grown kids are well-adjusted and on the path to continued success. I am thankful the rest of my family is happy, healthy and living their best lives. I am always grateful for the continued prosperity in our life that allows us to travel and enjoy nice things, including all of the gadgets and aids that make my life easier and more enjoyable.

As the new year is upon us, everyone is making resolutions and setting goals, which is not my favorite thing. Something about a new year makes us think of new beginnings and a fresh start. Considering it is a new decade and I am turning 50 in a few months, I guess I should get on board.

I’m not going to lie. Living with a chronic illness that fluctuates every week, day and hour does not motivate me to set lofty goals. My goal every day is to just feel good more often than bad. But there are always better things we can do. When MS began taking over my world, I gave up the idea that always thinking positive and believing in miracles will somehow guarantee things will change. That doesn’t mean I don’t have hope. I absolutely believe people do overcome seemingly impossible situations and I could be one of them. But not focusing on what might be allows me to be more focused on living a better life now. When I feel like it, I’ll focus on what is possible for the future. If my efforts somehow change the course of my disease, then that’s a bonus for me.

My goals or resolution or whatever you want to call it will have to focus on what I can do in the moments I can do it. Contemplating what I can do to make a difference today, I think of kindness. Perhaps it is the t-shirt I received from my son for Christmas that says “Kindness is free.” Everyone can be kind, and we all know our world could use more kindness.

But let’s be realistic. I am not going to be kind all the time. I am still going to gossip and take pleasure in the misfortune of others I don’t have a high opinion of on occasion. My hope is that I will remember to find more empathy, and ways to be nice, and of course remind myself daily of what I am grateful for.

For me, maybe it’s jotting something down on my calendar for the week. We all do kind things, so it shouldn’t be too hard. If it is not an intentional act of kindness, perhaps just recognizing the action, no matter how small, will help make it a habit. So there it is. I set a goal. Whew it’s over. I’m pleased that my intentions do not have to have a definitive, quantitative end result. I can only hope the goal of kindness makes me a happier, more content and better person.

Happy New Year! May you find health, happiness and kinder days in 2020.

Originally published: January 12, 2020
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