Regaining Control of My Life Through Self-improvement

Athena Merritt avatar

by Athena Merritt |

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When my family was caring for me, they got to witness my many endeavors at self-improvement. So, they won’t be surprised to hear I’m tweaking my life again during a September campaign dedicated to that.

I wasn’t aware of National Self-Improvement Month when I was trying to escape the helplessness I felt due to sarcoidosis. With fatigue so debilitating, family members regularly coaxed me from sleep just to eat, and I knew I wanted better. In brief moments of wakefulness, I found a way.

I accepted that I couldn’t control the course of my health. I could, however, use the downtime from illness to make positive changes in my life. Even small efforts give me a sense of control during periods when symptoms make me feel powerless.

I didn’t think that sleeping around the clock would allow for much, but my first endeavor still rings through my life today. I contacted and healed relationships with loved ones I had neglected over the years. I didn’t just apologize, I committed to showing through actions that I would do better.  

Self-improvement is an ongoing project. It didn’t begin during my health issues, but my pursuits increased in the wake of them. Some are aimed at breaking bad habits, such as cursing (which failed miserably) or addiction to technology. The goal of others, such as giving up meat in May, is better health.

This month, instead of focusing on a single objective, I’m tackling multiple fronts. The State University of New York College at Geneseo lists 101 wellness tips on their website, which I’m using to do it. The tips are separated into these wellness categories: social, occupational, physical, spiritual, intellectual, financial, and environmental. My goal is to accomplish something from each one.  

Some tips are specific to student campus life, but most are general enough that anyone can use them, such as actively practicing gratitude by thanking others through text, social media, or a handwritten note a certain number of times each month. Some of the other challenges include: 

  • Learning the power of forgiveness. When someone hurts you, it’s hard to forget, but in the end, holding on to anger only continues to hurt yourself. (Social)
  • Volunteering. In giving back, you gain more than you give. (Spiritual)
  • Developing functional, transferrable skills, such as customer service, in your current position. (Occupational)
  • Organizing a fundraiser for a cause in your community that you are passionate about. (Environmental)

My approach is different this time around, but my goal remains the same. I won’t let sarcoidosis prevent me from striving for more.


Brighter side: We all could use a break from bad news right now. So, I’ll be closing my columns with a roundup of positivity until we are able to say goodbye to masks, hug our loved ones, and leave our homes without fear.

  • Overflowing with kindness: The COVID-19 pandemic slowed catering work for Barney Corrigan of New Jersey, but not his desire to feed others. He now runs a weekly free grocery store from his garage, which started as a small shelf of donated food on his front lawn, ABC reported. Still overrun by donations, Corrigan hopes to move to a warehouse to serve more people. 
  • Aspiring comics: Whether you are an amateur comedian or a pro, you can hone your skills at Philadelphia’s first-ever virtual comedy school, Metro Philadelphia Newspaper reported. Off Mic Comedy School, created by Christine Ann Olivas, will provide course instruction on Zoom. Classes begin Oct. 1, and scholarships are available. 


Note: Sarcoidosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Sarcoidosis News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to sarcoidosis.


Tori avatar


Nice, positive article. It's what we need. There is light to be found. Volunteering gives back to you more than the people you are helping.

Athena Merritt avatar

Athena Merritt

Thank you! So true, kindness is like a boomerang.


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