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

Lisa Ellen Niver

Lisa Ellen Niver is an award-winning travel expert who has explored 102 countries and six continents. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, she worked on cruise ships for seven years and backpacked for three years in Asia. She is the founder of the website WeSaidGoTravel which is read in 235 countries and was named #3 on Rise Global’s top 1,000 Travel Blogs. Niver is represented by Chip MacGregor of MacGregor Literary, Inc. With more than 150,000 followers across social media, she has hosted Facebook Live for USA Today 10best, is verified on Twitter and listed on IMDb, and is the Social Media Manager for the Los Angeles Press Club. You can find Lisa Niver talking travel on broadcast television at KTLA TV Los Angeles, Satellite Media Tours, The Jet Set TV and Orbitz travel webisodes as well as her YouTube channel, where her WeSaidGoTravel videos have over 1.6 million views. After three months on TikTok, Instagram Reels, Facebook Reels and YouTube Shorts, she had over 500,000 (1/2 million) views. As a journalist, Niver has interviewed Deepak Chopra, Olympic medalists, and numerous bestselling authors and been invited to both the Oscars and the United Nations. She has been a judge for the Gracie Awards for the Alliance of Women in Media, and has run 15 travel competitions on her website, publishing over 2,500 writers and photographers from 75 countries. For her print and digital stories as well as her television segments, she has been awarded three Southern California Journalism Awards and two National Arts and Entertainment Journalism Awards and been a finalist twenty times.   Niver has published more than 2000 articles, in more than three dozen magazines and journals including National Geographic, Wired, Teen Vogue, HuffPost Personal, POPSUGAR, Ms. Magazine, Luxury Magazine, Smithsonian, Sierra Club, Saturday Evening Post, AARP, AAA Explorer Magazine, American Airways, Delta Sky, enRoute (Air Canada), Hemispheres, Jewish Journal, Myanmar Times, BuzzFeed, Robb Report, Scuba Diver Life, Ski Utah, Trivago, Undomesticated, USA Today, TODAY, Wharton Magazine, and Yahoo. Awards National Arts and Entertainment Journalism Awards 2021 Winner: Book Critic: Ms. Magazine “Untamed: Brave Means Living From the Inside Out” 2019 Winner: Soft News Feature for Film/TV: KTLA TV “Oscars Countdown to Gold with Lisa Niver” 2019 Finalist for: Soft News, Business/Music/Tech/Art Southern California Journalism Awards 2022 Finalist: Book Criticism 2021 Winner: Technology Reporting 2021 Finalist: Book Criticism 2020 Winner: Print Magazine Feature: Hemispheres Magazine, “Painter by the Numbers, Rembrandt” 2020 Finalist: Online Journalist of the Year, Activism Journalism, Educational Reporting, Broadcast Lifestyle Feature 2019 Finalist: Broadcast Television Lifestyle Segment for “Ogden Ski Getaway” 2018 Finalist: Science/Technology Reporting, Travel Reporting, Personality Profile 2017 Winner: Print Column “A Journey to Freedom over Three Passovers” Social Media Presence YouTube Channel: We Said Go Travel (1.6 million views) Short form video:TikTok, Instagram Reels, Facebook Reels, YouTube Shorts Twitter: lisaniver (90,000 followers) Instagram: lisaniver (24,000 followers) Pinterest: We Said Go Travel (20,000 followers and over 70,000 monthly views) Facebook: lisa.niver (5,000 followers); We Said Go Travel (3,000 followers) LinkedIn: lisaellenniver (9000 contacts)

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