The Benefits to Being Sick

note of gratitude, sean fargo

There is one consolation in being sick; and that is the possibility that you may recover to a better state than you were ever in before. – Henry David Thoreau

Have you ever been thankful for feeling crummy?

With cell phones, work and social life clamoring for our attention, there never seems to be an opportune time to be bedridden with impetuous sneezes and a skin-chaffed nose.

And yet there are benefits to being sick, like slowing down, calming the mind with slower movements, and remembering what it’s like to prioritize self-care once again. In other words, being sick can help us regain our balance.

The next time you’re sick, I invite you to list some of the benefits you notice. You may be surprised to see how many there are. Reflecting on your list may change your mood and, in turn, your physical health! Here is a recent list that I jotted down:

Noticing the quality of each breath

Having time to read

Speaking with a raspy, sexy voice

Rediscovering the beautiful simplicity of broth

Sleeping in

Accepting humility

Pretending I can escape entropy

Pretending I know what entropy means

Planning new self-care practices

Drinking more water

Noticing how much it hurts to not be kind to myself

Knowing that my body is doing it’s best

Remembering that I am not in control

Dreaming funkier dreams

Finding more time to meditate

Feeling love from others who wish me well

Distinguishing physical discomfort from unnecessary mental suffering

Appreciating the feeling of health

Imagining the waring battles under my skin between cells of ease and disease

Wondering what I would do differently if I got a ‘6-month to live’ prognosis

Putting life into perspective

Forgiving myself for not being 100%

Cultivating gratitude for being alive in the first place


Such Is Our Nature:

In cases of extreme sickness, facing death with increased acceptance can have a rather remarkable potential for progress on the path to a wise heart. The magic wand that turns death into a moment for high realization is simply letting go of all aspects of experience. Such detachment grows with the realization that, with the inevitable passing away of the body, it becomes meaningless to attach to things related to the body in one way or another, hence it is better to overcome such attachments while one still has a chance to do so; that is, while one is still alive.

All that is needed as the basic incentive for letting go is the realization that death cannot be avoided, that death is an inevitable aspect of life.

“This is not just characteristic of today,
It is not amazing and not even surprising,
Who is born will die,
What is so surprising about this?
From the moment of birth
Death is certain for those who live,
All who are born die right here,
Such is the nature of living beings.”                                                                              – Theragāthā


Can you think of more benefits to being sick? I’d love to hear what benefits you’ve noticed.

Author: Sean Fargo
About Sean Fargo At the peak of his career as Director of Asian Operations for AsiaEXP, Sean Fargo traded in his worldly aspirations to explore the inner life by ordaining as a Buddhist monk for two years in the Thai Theravada tradition. Since disrobing in 2010, he has supported thousands of meditation practitioners at Spirit Rock Meditation Center, facilitated mindfulness classes in San Quentin and Solano State Prisons, and has lead several workshops at Inward Bound Mindfulness Education teen retreats. A dedicated student of spirituality and mindfulness, he has studied with Jack Kornfield, Analayo Bhikkhu, Phillip Moffitt, and many other teachers in the US and Asia. His teaching path is guided by Guy Armstrong, Senior Teachers Council member for both Spirit Rock Meditation Center and Insight Meditation Society. Founder of, he offers secular mindfulness e-courses with certifications available for personal and professional skill sets. Enrolled in New Ventures West's Coaching Certification Program, Sean expects to certify as an Integral Life Coach in November 2014. He graduated with honors from University of California at Santa Barbara’s Global Studies Department in 2000. Sean offers private instruction to adults, teens, companies, and organizations. Contact Sean Fargo for more info.

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