Inspiration file: Positive thinking when faced with life crisis

I recently received a comment from a reader named Isobel, a 58-year-old Scottish woman, born in Edingburgh. Married to a German film critic, she lives in Germany and works as a freelance editor and author in the “English as a Foreign Language” section of the market.Her comment touched me, and inspired me, and I’d like to share it with all of you in hopes that it will inspire you as well:

I have just found your Zen Habits website and would like to tell you and the others that Motivation Hack #2 [make a big public commitment, and tell everyone you know about your goal] really struck a chord with me.

I am generally a very positive-thinking person. I’ve had a lot of ups and downs in my life but always came through in the end because I believed that that positive thinking would produce positive results – and it always has.

At the moment I’m facing my biggest challenge yet.

At the beginning of March I had to have a mastectomy -two very aggressive tumours and ten lymph nodes were removed. I’m now going through chemotherapy (with all kinds of nasty side-effects) and will have radiotherapy after the chemo is finished.

Right from day one of the diagnosis, I knew and believed that I would beat the cancer. I am being cared for by a great team of doctors and specialists here in Berlin, Germany and feel in safe hands. My husband is looking after me and helps so much.

To return to your Motivation #2 strategy, though – not long after the diagnosis I set up group emails for family, friends and coleagues. Everyone knows what is going on with me and they are all regularly updated on the treatment and on how I feel.

I get such a great response from all these people with cards and emails and phone calls. The positive feelings that come back certainly add to MY positive feelings. When I read your Motivation Hack #2 I thought: That’s my strategy – I’ve told all these people I’m going to beat my cancer, so I’d better just stick to that promise and do it, not just for me, but for all these people who are rooting for me.

To anyone alse out there who is facing a similar challenge, all I can say is – if you can, LET OTHER PEOPLE KNOW and ACCEPT THEIR HELP AND GOOD WISHES.
Thanks for reading this.

Best wishes to all


In an email to me, after I asked for her permission to reprint the comment, she added:

Being confronted with this extra special challenge in my life is allowing me time to have a good look at how my life will go on post-therapy and that is one of the reasons I was drawn to your fantastic website.

If you feel it will help other people, please feel free to post my comment on Zen Habits. I don’t feel that I’m particularly “incredible” – just lucky that I was born with a sunny and positive nature.

Isobel, my prayers are with you … and thank you for your inspiration! – Leo