There’s been an outpouring of support this week for the tragic passing of actor Chadwick Boseman, who silently battled stage 4 colon cancer while simultaneously filming ten blockbuster movies. 

As a physician, this story is beyond my medical comprehension, not for its clinical aspects, but because it’s a feat of sheer superhuman resilience. For a mere mortal to endure the burden of cancer is challenging enough, but to do it while also making 10 action films makes this man a real-life superhero.


We all have a superpower and many of my patients battling cancer have found this same superhuman resilience during challenging moments. They’ve picked up a paintbrush and become painters, stepped into kitchens and become pastry chefs, written inspiring books, and created beautiful music. 

When faced with the great unknown, they’ve lived out loud with a superhero’s resilience. Bearing witness to these incredible acts, I’ve often wondered if there’s a way for us all to tap into that deep well of resilience while we’re still healthy?  

Source: Rune Fisker via Wired Magazine


The resilience prescription I’ve given to patients during challenging moments is one we can all apply in the here and now, especially during the pandemic: live a lifetime in a day.  

Learning to live a lifetime in a day isn’t the maxed-out, all-systems-go approach you may be imagining. Its actually the opportunity to slow down and relish everyday as it happens, all while incrementally building our resilience.  When we live a lifetime in a day, we incorporate all the elements that make up an arc of a long and meaningful life- work, family, solitude, vacation, and retirement- and build these into one single day.
For example, consider time in work as a chance to create meaning and purpose for the mundane task at hand, because we know that creating meaning and a sense of purpose can build our resilience.  Then, consider time in family life, whether you have a family or not, as time spent connecting with your tribe, because human relationships are the most significant predictor of happiness.  Next, spend a few minutes everyday in solitude, since the science shows that alone time can enhance our ability to respond well to others.  Consider spending time in vacation everyday as a moment to engage in activities that bring joy, levity and flow, all of which have therapeutic benefits.  And finally, spend some time in retirement each day to reflect and take stock in just how far you’ve travelled in your incredible resilience journey!  


When we learn to live a lifetime in a day, we redefine time, our greatest and most cherished currency. By taking the long view and zooming out, we paradoxically let ourselves zoom in on what matters most: people, connection, love, purpose, and ultimately happiness– the most therapeutic and resilience-building life force of all!

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