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The Gift of Today: Finding Joy and Purpose in the Present

Posted by Geoff Beaty on 5 August 2021
The Gift of Today: Finding Joy and Purpose in the Present

A life touched by cancer is a life forever changed. Suddenly, setting goals, making plans, and thinking about the future seem to revolve around the diagnosis.

It is normal to worry, to question your existence and life path, and to simply wonder, Why me?

It is far from easy. But you are not alone.

Here, we share 7 tips that can help you cope healthfully with your emotions and find joy and purpose in the present.

1. Assess your life

Some survivors say their cancer gave them a wake-up call and a second chance to make life what they want it to be. Ask yourself those tough questions.

What makes me feel happy? Have I postponed things that are important to me?

How do I really want to spend my time? You may notice that answers to these questions and others will help to define what is most meaningful to you.

2. Enjoy nature

Spending time outdoors can be very therapeutic, helping relieve stress and improving overall quality of life in cancer patients.

Taking a walk, sitting in a quiet space outside your home, smelling flowers, and stargazing are all ways you can benefit from the outdoors.

3. Explore a creative activity

Many people have found that doing something creative helps them express their emotions and reduces stress, depressive symptoms, and physical pain. Creative activities might include painting, drawing, taking photographs, or learning to play a musical instrument.

4. Give back

For some people, reaching out and supporting others can help them find meaning in their cancer experience. Sharing your journey can be a meaningful way to share your cancer experience. 

5. Meditate

Allowing yourself to sit quietly, connect with your spirituality, or practice breathing exercises may be helpful in creating the mental space and perspective that will allow you to answer your questions about the meaning of life

6. Seek support and foster connections

Cancer Support Community's MyLifeLine can help you connect with others in a similar situation. MyLifeLine is an online community where cancer patients and survivors can build a private support website and share their experiences with friends and family.

They can also find hope and inspiration on a variety of discussion boards for people impacted by cancer. You can share your stories and ideas and meet others like you.

7. Write it down

Keep a journal. Write down your thoughts about what gives meaning to your life and what you are grateful for. Then you can read them any time you need a pick-me-up.

Even writing down your life's history can help put into perspective what you have already accomplished and what else you want to do.

A cancer diagnosis can change many aspects of your life. Surrounding yourself with a supportive community, trying positive activities such as meditation and journaling, and sharing your experience with others can help you discover joy and purpose in the present.

Author:Geoff Beaty
Tags:NewsMind Body MedicineCancer


  • The Institute for Functional Medicine
  • Society for Integrative Oncology
  • American Society of Clinical Oncology
  • Australian Traditional-Medicine Society
  • Naturopaths and Herbalists Association of Australia