How Much Do You Want to Live?

The thought of how we adapt to circumstances no matter how unhealthy reminds me of a photo I once saw. At first glance it was of a magnificent sea turtle, at least 100 pounds, but this wasn’t a normal-looking turtle – it was shaped like a figure eight, with a very narrow center and an enlarged front and back. Looking more closely, you could see that something was constraining its midsection, a piece of plastic – the kind that holds a six-pack of soda together. Somehow it had gotten wrapped around the turtle as a baby, as it grew, it contorted itself around the plastic.

It was a very sad picture, making me think of our own unique process of development, how things happen – that we are unaware of or have no control of – that distort and deform us in unhealthy or abnormal ways. Changing our story and our beliefs is like cutting off the plastic. Our body and our psyche adjust and our new story and identity redefine us. We just have to be willing.

I went to a healer and told her my story. She listened very intently and then there was a long pause. She finally asked me just one question: “Do you want to live?” I thought, what a stupid question! Of course I want to live. Why did I come here and spend all this money if I didn’t want to live? So I said, “Of course!” She just looked at me and nodded, giving me the sense that she knew something I didn’t.

Her question stuck with me, but it wasn’t until a couple of weeks later that I had an ah-ha moment about it. I realized it wasn’t necessarily a ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ answer, that there were degrees to it. What if I put the question on a scale of 1 to 10 and then rated my answer?

The first time I asked, I got an answer I wasn’t expecting: a 4, and that was on a good day. I was crestfallen. Here I was with everyone rallying to help me – an inconvenience to my family, friends, and employees, a drain on the medical system – and I didn’t even want to live.

Who could I admit this to? No one can know this! Then I had another ah-ha: if I didn’t really want to live, maybe that’s why I was sick. If I could get that 4 (which was really a 2) up to a 6 or even an 8 (10 seemed impossible at the time), then maybe I could have some kind of impact on my illness. I was eager to try anything, so I set out to change that number, which became a very big driver for my entire healing journey.

So let me ask you, on a scale of 1 to 10, how much do you want to live?

  • Are you a 1 or a 2, just waiting to check out at the first available opportunity?
  • How about a 4? You show up but you’re tired, depressed or angry, pretending your life has meaning, not in touch with what makes you happy.
  • Maybe a 6? You get through, there are some high points and a few laughs, but mostly it’s pretty average. You live and then you die, and everything in-between is sort of a blur.
  • An 8 or higher? You wake up with passion, eager to meet the day and learn from the challenges the world has in store for you. You know that you’re serving your higher good, your higher purpose. You’re aligned and on point; magic just flows with many wows and moments of gratitude. You make a positive difference in the lives of others. You have the rare bad day, but nothing seems to set you back. You’re in the game with heart and commitment!

When I started tracking my score, most days it was a 4 and frequently it was a 2. Once in a while I’d break into a 6, but anything over that didn’t last more than ten minutes. You could say that out of 30 days in a month, I was a raging storm of unhappiness for 28 of them.

As I started to practice the things I outline in my book – changing my relationships, how I invested my time, how I viewed my health, how I came to serve others, and how I started listening to my spirit – my score slowly went up. I stopped doing things I didn’t want to do and started doing things I wanted to, often just because they were fun.

Now if I don’t wake up at least an 8, I’m pretty surprised. I usually know what I’m here to do. I have clarity about my goals, my values, and what’s important to me, and I do them. I try to have fun along the way, and if I hit a speed bump or even a brick wall, I shake off the impact and get up for another day, knowing that I’m serving my highest and greatest goals.

So let me ask you again, on a scale of 1 to 10, how much do you want to live?

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