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There are thousands of them, aren’t there for not doing what we should or for not being our best self? There always seems to be a reason to justify not doing something or for not taking care of ourselves

I happen to have a ready made excuse. I have sarcoidosis, a chronic and painful disease that makes breathing very difficult for me.

But I also have a choice and here is what I have learned about excuses.

I can use my disease as an excuse to lay in the bed all day feeling sorry for myself making the pain worse and feeding an isolating depression.

Or I can decide to take care of myself, push through the pain and live my life as normally as I can. Every day I get up and have to make that choice one day at a time.

Most days, I think I chose well because I chose life. I plop my aching tired feet on the floor and stand on my shaky pathetic legs and I decide that I will not let this disease be my excuse to give in, let go or give up.

Once the choice is made, the rest of the day falls into place. I am up. I am out of bed. I am showered and I am among the living. I feel human and I feel buoyant like simply making the decision to be my best self has made me lighter. I am freed of the burden of the emotional drudgery that would otherwise weigh me down if I had made that other choice.

I don’t have be a person stuck in the misery that is my disease. And I won’t be.

This is not to say that I don’t have bad days. Of course I do. I have stay in bed days. I have down days. But I don’t wallow in them. I accept them as part of having this disease, get through them and focus on tomorrow being a new day…fresh and full of possibilities.

Why people reveal in the pain of their misery is a huge mystery to me. Why any person would chose to be a victim when enough bad stuff out of our control already happens to us, is mind boggling. Why someone chooses to lose themselves in their problems instead of seeking to grow from them makes no earthly sense to me but then I didn’t learn these lessons the easy way myself so perhaps I should not judge.

I believe it was George Washington who said something to the effect of “better to have no excuse at all than a bad one.” I think excuses are always bad. They are in their own way lies.

If we don’t do something that we should because we don’t want to…that’s the reason…plan and simple, isn’t it? Attaching some additional justification to it does not negate that we failed to do the thing that we should have.

Excuses are shields we use to hide from the truth. If we fail to do something, perhaps it is because we lacked the will or worse yet, we were lazy. Well, who wants to admit being lazy?

Living an excuse free life takes discipline. It takes a moral integrity difficult to reach. It takes an honesty that is hard to come by. In many cases it takes being strong enough to make the harder choice.

So I won’t use my disease as an excuse not to take care of myself and I certainly won’t use it as an excuse to justify bad decisions. I won’t use it as an excuse to lash out at others and I won’t use it as an excuse to retreat and isolate.

But perhaps most importantly, I won’t use my disease as an excuse not to try to act with integrity. I won’t use my disease as an excuse to lie to myself or anyone else.

Instead I will be strong, despite or perhaps because of my disease, and I will strive to live an excuse free life.