I know I am. And I presumed most folks are too.
Until I saw the results of an online poll asking whether you would want to know if you were going to develop an untreatable disease. The poll was at the end of an article that tests for biomarkers definitively predicting whether you will develop Alzheimer’s will soon be available.
I was in the minority of about 25% who said they’d not want to know. So I began wondering about why the other 75% would want to know.
The first reason that came to mind was: so they could put their affairs in order. I quickly dismissed that thinking because folks with an untreatable disease will have enough time for that task after a diagnosis following symptoms. Heart disease (which is often “sudden” in the form of a heart attack) kills over 450,000 people each year in the U.S. There’s also car accidents, which kill folks of all ages (40,000 in the U.S. in 2007). Anyone can die unexpectedly at any time. So everyone should have their affairs “in order.”
The next reason that came to mind was: “so I wouldn’t have children.” I can understand a number of reasons for that thinking. But, since most folks have children before they’re 30, that would mean the poll respondents would have been predominantly under 30. I didn’t think that was likely.
Then the most likely reason came to me: “so I could change my life while my health was still good.” Which means most folks are not living the life they want. Which is pretty sad.
What I don’t understand is: why do folks need something like the knowledge they will develop an untreatable disease to motivate them to change their life? Why not do it now?
Is it because of fear? That if they try to change their life and don’t succeed then they may regret it for a long time? Whereas, if they’re going to have a shortened life anyway, then if they try to change their life and don’t succeed they won’t have long to regret it anyway?
That’s not a very confident perspective. But if they were confident then they wouldn’t be just thinking about living the life they want. They’d have started living it long ago.
For me, the greatest tragedy is to be living a life other than the one you want. Especially if it’s because of fear of trying and failing. Those who lack self-confidence are already defeated. And they defeated themselves.
All I can say to those folks who are not living the life they want is: “Yes, you can!” You need to start sooner rather than later because the further down the wrong road you are, the longer and harder it can be getting back to the right one. And if you’re thinking: “it’s too late for me because (insert reasons here)…” then that’s the problem.
There are always going to be reasons why you can’t do what you want to do. But they are really just excuses. Anyone can change their life. At any time. You just need confidence in yourself.
Lack of confidence is a treatable disease. But many folks who suffer from it won’t treat it.