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Parkinson’s, Positivity, Ivan Petrovich Pavlov, and Phil

What do Parkinson’s, a long dead Russian named Ivan Petrovich Pavlov, positivity, and Phil possibly have in common? Well, it’s complicated. The connection lies in the way I try to stay forward-focused and positive while living in my Parkinson’s world.

Having a positive attitude

Being positive or having a positive attitude has been shown in study after study to be a major factor in a better quality of life and even in increased longevity as opposed to those with a negative attitude. The results apply to the general population and are even more applicable to people who have a chronic disease. Who doesn’t want a better quality of life and to live a longer life?1 ADD REFERENCE

So, there’s the connection between Parkinson’s and positivity. Connecting Phil (me) and Parkinson’s is easy. I have Parkinson’s. Adding Positivity is easy. On some high level, I want to have the best quality of life and live as long as I can. Turns out, the devil is in the details.

It is not always easy

Having and maintaining a positive attitude turns out to be much harder than just saying I want one. Having a chronic disease like Parkinson’s preloads a lot of negatives. Chronic, no cure, progressive, pretty awful physical symptoms (personal observation), higher than normal rates of depression, apathy, cognitive decline, and dementia. I feel a little depressed and negative just making this list.

My road to positivity

Say "I have Parkinson’s." All the anger, denial, blame, and pity parties in the world won’t change that. It’s called "idiopathic" for a reason so there is no thing, or act, or person to blame. Stop playing "shoulda, woulda, coulda." One cannot change the past. Live in the moment and for the future.

Setting goals and objectives

Turns out being a compliant patient, practicing meditation, utilizing coping skills, and being in the moment were not enough to consistently keep on the positive side of the scale. There are a lot of hours in a day and being physically and mentally idle tips me towards the negative.

Enter Pavlov and his dogs. Laugh if you will. Call me crazy. View me as more than slightly OCD. I don’t care. Pavlov’s "action causes reward" works for more than dogs. Setting a myriad of goals and objectives, small and large, and having a rewards program lets me fill my days and stay focused on the moment and the future.

Action and reward

For example, I don’t like having Parkinson’s fatigue (feeling tired and exhausted yet having done nothing to feel tired and exhausted.) If you have read some of my past scribbling, you’ll remember I have more than a little dislike of exercise.

Intellectually, I know that exercise is good for the body, can slow Parkinson’s progression, dispenses Parkinson’s fatigue, helps with weight control and a lot of other good things. Too long term. Still not enough to make me exercise. I will exercise for the endorphins. A short term instant reward for having exercised.2

In addition to formal exercise 5 days a week, I try to ride my recumbent exercise bike for an hour, 5 or 6 days a week. I hate it! My reward for riding is more endorphins and I get to watch all my action, spy, and mystery TV shows. Action and instant reward.

For times when I want to just couch potato (new verb), I fill the time instead by reading. I always have a new book picked out, one started and one almost finished. Reading for pleasure.  action and reward.

The outcome

I research Parkinsons. I write about it. I mentor and moderate. In the moment, I am thinking about Parkinson’s but I’m not dwelling emotionally in a negative way about my version.

Ring the bell. Act. Reward. I can set challenges and rewards that have positive outcomes for almost anything I do. Positive outcomes drive positive attitude.

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

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