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Two coffee cups with steam that is making a heart

“Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always.”

I’m told that quote is attributable to the late Catholic missionary – Mary Teresa Bojaxhiu, commonly known as Mother Theresa. She is now a Catholic Saint. What extraordinary words. What do they have to do with COPD?

What needs encouraging?

I was having coffee with a friend in town, “T.J.” (Thomas John) who also has COPD. He’s a little more advanced than me but I’m not far behind. He brought up Mother Theresa’s words when we were talking about “encouragement.” We were discussing encouragement specifically in the context of COPD. How can we encourage each other? I think much of it depends on what needs encouraging. Are we having a bad day? Has our breathing gotten worse?
Have we lost all desire to share stories – to eat – to socialize? What keeps some of us going and what stops others from trying?

The power of encouragement

I’m a big believer in encouragement. I got a lot of it as a kid from my family when it came to schoolwork, music (I’m a guitar player – first one in the family), cloudy days – a whole host of things where I wasn’t feeling particularly sure of myself about whatever it was I was trying to do. T.J. had been a tremendous athlete in high school and college and continued to play basketball for his company’s team. He said he and his teammates would “psyche each other up” before, during and after games. For those younger than 60, to psyche someone up was to encourage them with great enthusiasm. “If I was getting the right kind of encouragement, I could hit a shot from way downtown,” T.J told me, “And I would get nothin‘ but net.”

Lessons learned

If I’m honest, (I think I am), there are times when I’ve taken advantage of the kindness offered to me when I’m having a bad breathing day or an exacerbation or just a generally blah kinda day. “Oh yes…I’d love another glass of wine. You’ll get it for me? Aren’t you the sweetest!” “If you’d like to bring it here that would be terrific!” “No…I don’t mind if you want to fluff up that extra pillow.” I’m exaggerating a bit but…not too much.

What T.J and I agreed on before parting was that it has to be very difficult to see a loved one hampered by the effects of COPD. I’m not going to say “depressing” although there’s a good chance that it is. And yet, on the other side (and we both agreed) there are days we could use tons of encouragement and it doesn’t seem to be forthcoming.

I’m not sure why. I’d like to think of myself as showing appreciation. I’m pretty sure I do. And yet, I sometimes see “eye-rolling” when I’ve asked if someone could get me something. Not blatant, mind you but – it’s there. I’d like to think that I’ve followed Mother Theresa’s advice. I honestly think I have – even before I saw it written down. But we can all do better at being kinder. I know I can.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The COPD.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

  • Janet Plank moderator
    2 weeks ago

    Yes we can all do better at being kind. I know that is something that can even be felt across the computer lines across the globe. You too are a kind person. Thank you for this article, it tickles my mind and makes me think about being better at being kinder.
    Janet (site moderator)

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