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Looking Beyond Your Parkinson's Disease

One sure way to get past the poor-pitiful-me piece of dealing with Parkinson's Disease is to focus less on yourself and ramp up your attention to other people. This simple change can also remind other people to stop viewing you as someone with an incurable condition and start seeing you as the vital, loving, and giving person you've always been. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • If a clerk or service person gives especially good service, tell him and then tell his boss.
  • Offer to trade seats on a bus, train, or plane to let a family or couple sit together — even if you end up with the dreaded middle seat.
  • Find old pictures of family members, frame them, and send them to the person with a note that recalls what the photos mean to you.
  • Look beneath the surface. When a friend's in a crummy mood, know that it probably goes well beyond the surface. Acknowledge that she seems to be having a bad day and ask if there's anything you can do to help.
  • Pass along a good book you've just finished or make special scrapbooks or family recipe books for the children in your family.
  • If you're a gardener and need to divide your perennials, offer the new neighbor some plants from your garden. (They can do the digging!)
  • Put an extra coin in an expired meter.
  • Call the clerks and other service people that you regularly see by name.
  • Take a treat to your co-workers, even if you have to buy rather than bake it.
  • Use the magic words, "Please" and "Thank you," and make a big deal out of someone going the extra mile for you.

Focusing on other people — caring for and about them — is possibly the simplest way to move beyond your self-pity and angst about Parkinson's Disease. Of course, it's not a cure for clinical depression or anxiety, but caring for others is a major first-step in changing your destructive, negative self-talk to something far more positive and life-affirming. Bottom line? It is indeed better to give (care and concern) than to receive (pity and avoidance).

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