15 Aug 2016 When Breath Becomes Air: Making Your Life Matter More

I have been asked repeatedly, “What do you want to do?” I want to run We Said Go Travel and make travel videos. The problem is I am not sure it is a good enough answer. I am afraid that I am wasting my talents. As a medical school drop-out, I worry that I should do more with my life and my intellectual abilities. I am “should-ing” myself to distraction.

When breath becomes air Paul KalanthiWhen I read Paul Kalanithi’s book, “When Breath Becomes Air,” I was mesmerized. After earning multiple degrees from Stanford, Cambridge and Yale and being inducted into the national Alpha Omega Alpha medical honor society, after years of study and training, he learned he had stage IV lung cancer. After all of his work to be save humans from disease, he found he could be treated but not cured and was dying much sooner than he imagined. All of those years spent learning and preparing to do his important work would not lead to decades of practicing medicine as a doctor.

Kalanithi’s question “is not simply whether to live or die but what kind of life is worth living…What makes life meaningful enough to go on living? …Even if I’m dying, until I actually die, I am still living.” He continued to work when he could, to spend time with his family and to fight his cancer. If he knew he would have less days on this planet, would he have made other choices?

We are all going to die someday but most of us do not contemplate our mortality regularly. Kalanithi wrote: “You try to figure out what matters to you, and then you keep figuring it out. It felt like someone had taken away my credit card and I was having to learn how to budget.” With months left to live, he struggles with his daily choices. What is worth his time now that it is so precious. We cannot get back the hours of our day. How do you decide what to do?

I want to use my strengths and abilities wisely. What is the best way to have a meaningful purpose-filled life? Kalanithi tells us “The truth that you live one day at a time didn’t help: What was I supposed to do with that day?” He answers his own question and tells us, “You have to figure out what’s most important to you.”

What leads you on your path?

What is the role of a doctor? From When Breath Becomes Air

“The physician’s duty is not to stave off death or return patients to their old lives, but to take into our arms a patient and family whose lives have disintegrated and work until they can stand back up and face, and make sense of, their own existence.”

We all need a team surrounding us to remind us that we can find our own way even when it seems overwhelming or too short. We never know which day will be our last. I hope you are making an effort to make your dreams come true today. Hug those you love and know that what you do is enough.

Video: Lisa’s SIZZLE reel

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Lisa Niver

Lisa Niver is a travel expert, writer, artist, entrepreneur, and on-camera host who has explored 99 countries. Niver has established a following through her written and video content, garnering over one million video views on YouTube, Amazon Fire Tv and Roku. She is the Adventure Correspondent for The Jet Set, the first travel based TV Talk show. She was a winner in the 59th annual 2016 Southern California Journalism Awards for her print column in The Jewish Journal. Niver is the founder of a top 100 travel blog, We Said Go Travel, that reaches more than 200,000 annually and is in the top 1/8 of the top 1% of all sites in the United States. In her tri-annual international travel writing competitions, she has published nearly 2000 writers from 75 countries. She was invited to the United Nations as a Champions of Humanity ambassador, to the red carpet at the Oscars with United Airlines and to New Orleans for a project with American Express and Starwood Hotels. Her recent stories include Dutch designer villas for Luxury Magazine, interviewing Fabien Cousteau for Delta Sky, skiing with the blind for Sierra, Ubud cremation ceremony for National Geographic and scuba diving in the Solomon Islands for Smithsonian. She also contributes to USA Today, Wharton Business Magazine, the Jewish Journal and is verified on Twitter and Facebook. Niver was a 2012 nominee for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching, a 2014 nominee for the Charles Bronfman Prize and a finalist in two categories for the 59th annual Southern California Journalism Awards.

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