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Living WELL Aware Newsletter
Fall 2016
Who's in Charge?
It's an important question for all of us. Who is "in charge" of your life?  Whom do you answer to? Who is running your life? Who is ruining your life? I have great news for you - - YOU are the one in charge!
With the presidential election a few days away, we will soon be faced with a new leader of our country who will be "in charge" of making important decisions that will affect all of us in one way or another. Many may feel their life will be "better" or "worse" depending on who is elected.
I would like to ask a challenging question. Does it really matter who is elected President on November 8? Will it affect your happiness? For me, I would like to say the answer is "NO!". Whether I'm content with my life has nothing to do with who is elected president, or for that matter, who my boss is, or whom I am married to. I am responsible for how I feel about the events in my life, and my feelings determine my actions. Positive emotions lead to positive actions.
Persistently thinking positively is a challenge. We all face unwanted life events: financial difficulties, death of a family member or friend, struggles in relationships, guilt over past events, substance abuse issues that affects us or someone we care about, accidents, theft, physical and emotional abuse, election of officials we didn't vote for.  The list goes on and on.  In my pursuit of wellness, one concept has become very clear to me.  All my emotional struggles are the result of negative thinking.  I can find myself thinking: "This should not have happened."  "This should not be happening."
When asking if we are "in charge" of our life, I'm really asking "Are we in charge of our emotions, our thoughts, our reactions to life events?"  We can all agree that we can't control most life events.  The only thing we can control and be "in charge" of is how we react to events - desired and undesired. 
The facts about negative emotions speak for themselves. Antidepressants are the third most commonly prescribed medication in the United States.  Despite this high use, suicide rates have increased in all groups ages 10 to 74 in the past 15 years. Pain medications are the most commonly prescribed drugs today with the CDC greatly concerned that the use and abuse of prescription narcotics is at epidemic levels.  Although there are no new causes of pain, we appear to use pain medications at a much higher rate today.   While I am not questioning the effectiveness and need for use of anti-depressants or pain medications in many people, I am saying that we all need to individually assess any troublesome emotions and physical pain.  We then need to diligently pursue the underlying causes and seek alternative effective strategies of management when possible.
Life happens!  It can stress us out leading to discontent, anxiety, depression, irritability, even anger.  When we see ourselves in any negative state, wishing things were different, we need to STOP and THINK.  To quote Epictetus who went from slave to Greek philosopher: "Don't seek for everything to happen as you wish it would, but rather wish that everything happens as it actually will - - then your life will flow well."
If you prefer a biblical point of view, many of us are familiar with this verse:  "Ask what ye will and it shall be done unto you."  (John 15:7) But, the bottom line: How God fulfills the promise is HIS work to consider, not ours.  Our challenge in life is to accept reality: God's will.  Arguing with God is a no win situation. I lose every time.
Holocaust survivor Alice Sommer had this to say about the Nazis, who imprisoned her for years and killed several family members: "Everything is a present.  I look for the good in everyone." Can you imagine how amazing our lives would be if we looked for the good in everyone and every life event?   
And for you hard rockers out there, I'm sure you would agree with Mick Jagger: "You can't always get what you want. But if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need."  I submit, I always get what "I need," because that's what I got! There is never any winning when arguing with reality.  If my house burns down to the ground or if my loving husband dies or if there is economic collapse, I will have to deal with the loss of my house and its possessions, my husband, or my money - -  because they are not there.  Everything happens for a reason and I want to live a life where things happen for me, not to me.
As we approach the holidays of Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, and others, let us again ask ourselves, "Who is in charge of your life? Of your happiness?"   "Who is running your life?  Who is ruining your life?"   I submit that if we see things as they are AND live a life of gratitude, we will be "in charge" and soar to a higher level of health and happiness by Living WELL Aware.
And in the spirit of getting healthier and happier, we are excited to announce that Texas A&M WELLNESS WORKS! has chosen Living WELL Aware to create its 2017 employee wellness initiative.  The upcoming collaboration is entitled
Living WELL Aware at Texas A&M and will be a multi-faceted program including the Living WELL Aware workbook, webcasts, newsletters, and other components to get employees truly excited and motivated to improve all aspects of their wellness. We look forward to partnering with Texas A&M and many other organizations, businesses, and schools in 2017, showcasing the latest in Living WELL Aware.
The Best to You by Living WELL Aware!
Patricia J. Sulak, MD
Living WELL Aware LLC