Romanticizing the Past Makes Us Feel Bad about the Present

Life wasn't perfect back then. It had its joys and sorrows, its successes and disappointments—just as my life does now. When I find myself putting that "old" life on a pedestal and thinking that I was always happy, I realize this is a distorted view of the past that serves only to make me feel bad about the present.

As Summer Simmers, Refresh Yourself With These Reflections

"A perfect summer day is when the sun is shining, the breeze is blowing, the birds are singing, and the lawn mower is broken." —James Dent

A Not-To-Do List for the Chronically Ill

A few weeks ago, I realized I could benefit from a not-to-do list that would remind me of my limitations—limitations I often ignore either because I’m in denial or because I want to please others. Unfortunately, I always pay the price physically, and that’s not good for me mentally either. Here’s a not-to-do list for those who live day-to-day with chronic pain or illness.

Chronic Resilience: An Interview with Danea Horn

People with chronic illness need concrete tools for learning how to live with grace and purpose despite their health challenges. Danea Horn's book, "Chronic Resilience" offers those tools. She details ten practical guidelines for managing the stress and challenges of illness. This book can help you transform the stress of chronic illness.

Who Didn’t Say That? Ten Surprising Misattributed Quotations

“Quotation, n: The act of repeating erroneously the words of another.” —Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary

Don’t Be Intimidated in the Doctor’s Office: Six Strategies

Here are six strategies to help ensure you make the most of your time with the doctor.

Four Common Misconceptions About the Bill of Rights

When someone who is accused of a crime is released from jail because he or she was the subject of an unreasonable search or seizure, people often complain that the Fourth Amendment serves only to help criminals. But this is incorrect. It was enacted to protect innocent people like you and me from unreasonable government intrusion.

In the Kingdom of the Sick: An Interview With Laurie Edwards

Laurie has written a social history of chronic illness in America, titled In the Kingdom of the Sick. This was a major undertaking and Laurie has succeeded most admirably. In a starred review, Booklist calls it, “an indispensable book for anyone with or concerned about chronic disease, and everyone interested in the health professions.”

Is Free Will an Illusion? A Guest Post by Joan Tollifson

This is a guest post by Joan Tollifson. See my introductory paragraph to learn who Joan is and why I asked her if I could share this piece.

Reflections on “How to Be Sick”

I’ve opened "How to Be Sick" many times since it was published in 2010, but I’d never read it cover-to-cover. It was an intense experience, not without tears. I’m sharing what I learned because I hope it will be valuable, not just to those who’ve read the book, but to others who might recognize experiences we share as members of the community of the chronically ill.

Impatient? Why and How to Practice Patience

As I learned to be patient with life's inevitable delays and difficulties, I noticed two things. First, being patient is a way of treating myself with compassion. Second, being patient gave rise to a feeling of equanimity—a calmness of mind that makes it easier to ride life’s ups and downs without being tossed about like a boat in a storm.

12 Tips from 12 Years Sick

Two years ago, I wrote “10 Tips from 10 Years Sick.” Last year, I wrote “11 Tips from 11 Years Sick.” This year, sigh…I’m still sick. And so it’s time for “12 Tips from 12 Years Sick.” A few of them have made an appearance in different form in the earlier pieces, but that’s because some tips have a very long shelf life…

Use “Paintracking” to Help Manage Chronic Pain

“Living with chronic pain can feel like you are a raggedy doll, tossed about by conditions beyond your control.” So writes Deborah Barrett in her wonderfully helpful and practical book, "Paintracking: Your Personal Guide to Living Well with Chronic Pain."

Tapping into Self-Compassion to Help Ease Everyday Suffering

We can learn to treat ourselves with the same compassion that we'd treat a loved one in need.

8 Things I Miss Most as a Result of Chronic Pain and Illness

It's good to remember that there’s a tendency to rewrite our past and put it on a pedestal: “Those were the good old days.” But, in reality, my life before I got sick was a mixture of pleasant and unpleasant experiences, good times and rough times.

Two Years Out: The Top 15 “Turning Straw Into Gold” Pieces

This is an anniversary of sorts for me. I’ve been writing for Psychology Today for two years now and am approaching having posted 100 pieces. I thought this would be a good time to do some math and so I’ve compiled a list of the most read of my 93 pieces.

Spring Unfolds in Quotations, Reflections, and Photographs

Spring is nature’s way of saying, “Let’s party!” —the wonderful Robin Williams

More: Tough Choices You Face When Chronically Ill or in Pain

I recently posted “5 Tough Choices You Face When Chronically Ill or in Pain.” I wrote it from personal experience but was amazed to discover how many of you said it applied to you too. It seems as if we all face the same tough choices...

What Type of Thinker Are You?

“Convergent” and “divergent” thinking represent two different ways of looking at the world. A convergent thinker sees a limited, predetermined number of options. By contrast, a divergent thinker is always looking for more options. Many of us get stuck in convergent thinking and, as a result, don’t see the many possibilities available to us.

When You're Down and Out: How to Get Through the Bad Days

Like me, you may have people in your life who tell you to keep a positive attitude. “Think positively and everything will be okay,” seems to be one of the mantras of the 21st Century. But to be honest, I don’t always feel positive.

Are You Embarrassed?

The major reason that some of us are embarrassment-prone is that we’ve been conditioned to set unrealistically high expectations for ourselves and to judge ourselves negatively when we can’t possibly meet those standards.

5 Tough Choices You Face When Chronically Ill or in Pain

Here are five tough choices continually faced by those who suffer from chronic pain and/or illness. There aren't easy answers to the issues they raise: that’s why they’re tough choices.

Your Physical Illness May Now Be Labeled a Mental Disorder

Despite the vehement opposition of many in the health care field—including many therapists—the American Psychiatric Association has included Somatic Symptom Disorder in its fifth edition—DSM-5—which will be published in May. This means that millions of people who suffer from chronic illness will soon be subject to diagnosis as mentally ill.

Winter Lovers, Humbuggers, and Poets: 21 Quotes on Winter

Twenty-one quotations about winter with paintings by Andrew Wyeth who said: “I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape—the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it; the whole story doesn’t show.”

Top 10 New Year’s Resolutions that Nobody Will Keep

Every year I torture myself by making New Year’s Resolutions that I don’t keep. So, as a public service, in order to save you the trouble of letting yourself down yet again, I offer the Top 10 New Year’s Resolutions that Nobody Will Keep...

Physical Illnesses May Soon Be Labeled “Mental Disorders”

You can help prevent the creation of Somatic Symptom Disorder. After reading this piece, click on the link to Dr. Frances’ article, “Mislabeling Medical Illness as Mental Disorder." He has the best chance to get your feedback (via "page views" and comments to his piece) to the American Psychiatric Association before the new manual for mental disorders goes to press.

A Bit of Holiday Humor to Brighten Your Day

The worst gift is a fruitcake. There is only one fruitcake in the entire world, and people keep sending it to each other. —Johnny Carson

Educating Loved Ones about Your Health During the Holidays

When the holidays arrive, we find ourselves expected to participate in a range of activities. The increase in activity exacerbates our physical symptoms, while coping with sadness, frustration, and maybe even guilt about our physical limitations gives rise to emotional pain.

Coolest Kid on the Block—Christmas Tree AND Hanukkah Bush!

Some of our relatives disapproved of my parents’ holiday traditions and refused to come to our house in December. But my friends—Jewish and Christian alike—thought I was the coolest kid on the block because I got to celebrate both holidays.

Is Your Caregiver Self-Absorbed and Manipulative?

Do any of the following sound familiar? At first your caregiver is amazing. He or she seems truly devoted to giving you the best care possible. But then this person to whom you’ve entrusted your care (and often your house keys) begins to criticize you and find fault with everything you do.