Over the years when I was in clinical practice I was inspired enough by the many healings and transformations that I had witnessed to write a book called Count Your Blessings - the Healing Power of Gratitude and Love. While working on the book, I spent some time in a noted hospital in Houston Texas, in the oncology ward, and I became friendly with some of the pathologists, oncologists and oncology nurses there. The head nurse of the oncology ward told me that when people would be admitted to the ward for cancer treatment, the staff would sometimes quietly bet on who would make it and who would not, judging by their personality and attitudes (remember, these were mostly more advanced grade three and stage four or five cancer patients with some that were already believed to be terminal). The staff had an 87% accurate predictability rate because they knew, by the way their patients perceived their life and their attitudes, who had conscious or unconscious motives to survive, and whether they were going to pull through or not.
Since their patent’s attitude had much to do with their perceptions, decisions and actions and therefore outcomes and since these were primarily determined by their individual and underlying hierarchy of values, or what was meaningful to them, it was important to identify what their hierarchy of values were and what was truly most meaningful and important to them in their lives – or what they truly desired to live for. It was important for surviving patients to have or set goals that were congruent with what was truly most meaningful and important to their lives for a greater survival rate or prognosis. Setting personal goals that matched their highest and most meaningful values so that they could envision living a more fulfilled and congruent life helped them awaken and strengthen their natural innate and acquired immune systems and more vital physiology as well as enhance greater resilience and adaptability to stressful events – including cancer treatment and their challenges. Patients demonstrated greater levels of vitality and wellness factors when they were feeling congruent with their intentions, visions and highest values and feeling more grateful and loving and feeling loved in return.
Just as for patients with life challenging illnesses, so too for each of us who face our many daily challenges, but who have the natural desire for greater energy, vitality, resilience and adaptability, once we recognise our true inner source of such energy and strength, there is much we can do to add to our survival and ‘thrival’. For one, we can change our goals to match what we truly value most to increase our level of congruency and fluidity. Or, we can change our hierarchy of values to match our primary goals, because as we go through life, our values and goals can shift. This can be done by stacking benefits or drawbacks to any one of our individual values, again for the sake of creating greater congruency. Up to the age of 10, we probably wanted to play. Between the ages of 10 and 20 we probably wanted to socialise. From ages 20 to 30 we probably want to concentrate on finding a special relationship and maybe sorting out our career paths. From ages 30 to 40 we probably want to develop and stabilize our family dynamic or initiate your own business venture. From ages 40—50 we probably want to help get our children through their education. From ages 50-60 we probably want to see our children become independent and find their partners and further secure our own future economically. Each age has its primary aims or fulfilling objectives. But the key is congruency.
All through our lives our values are changing; the things that cause our values to change are things that support and challenge our values most along the way. Anything that we perceive to over support our values can make us more dependent and in some cases even weaker. Anything that we perceive to over challenge our values can make us more independent and even stronger. A balance of both supportive and challenging events, help us remodel our value structure and both equally are essential for maximum growth, development and resilience. For, whatever our values are, they determine how we interpret, decide and act in the world.
Fulfilling any one of our values can create some degree of fulfillment, but fulfilling our highest value is the most fulfilling and empowering. When we perceive, decide and act in a way that is congruent with our highest value, we are going to become more empowered and awaken our inner most resilient healer. When we perceive, decide and act in a way that is incongruent with our highest values, we are going to become more disempowered and make dormant our inner and resilient healer. The resultant unfulfillment will initiate an immediate gratifying and addictive behavior to compensate for the long-term unfulfillment. The former strengthens our immunity and adaptability and adds wellness bringing eustress, while the latter weakens us and results in illness initiating and promoting distress. So it is wise to consider living congruently now before a more life challenging illness has to emerge to guide us to what is truly most meaningful and important. When we are congruent we count our blessings and feel more gratitude and love.
Dr. John Demartini is a human behaviour specialist, educator, author and the founder of the Demartini Institute