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HIV: ON LIVING-TAKING CONTROL: A POSITIVE ATTITUDE

People affected by AIDS agree on this, that the single most important thing they can do is to keep a positive attitude.
During one of Dean’s serious illnesses, he was near death. While he was recovering, he said, “I sat and thought, ‘How long can I keep this game going, denying this disease? Do I want to continue? Do I have it in me?’ Then I thought, ‘I fought everything else, it’s up to me again. I’ll beat this too.’ In a way, death would have been easier. But I think about what I’d have
missed—the pictures of Neptune from Voyager, my sister’s baby, my son growing up.”
Now Dean says he concentrates not on what he’s lost, but on what he has left. “I’ve become more conscious of the quality of life,” he says. “Now I’m concerned with living before I die, and living every minute. Sometimes it’s like a violent smack hits me: wake up and enjoy life.”
Steven has feelings that are almost identical: “I don’t know where my ability to enjoy life comes from. I love life so much, I want every minute. I keep myself occupied and my mind working. I compare myself to other people—I still have advantages others don’t. I’ve been
fortunate, and it’s been a good life. It has been one big education. If this is all I’m going to get, okay. It’s not bad. It’s pretty good.”
Keeping a positive attitude can change the way people think of themselves. They think of themselves less as people with a disease and more as people who are—for the present,
anyhow—alive. They say they know how to be alive and will live their lives the way they know how. They come to trust their own resources, to trust themselves. Sometimes they even become different people: “I’ve never liked telling anyone what’s going on with me,” said Alan, “but dealing with this disease has made me more open than any time in my life. I’m voicing my opinion more, am more self-confident.” Along with that comes a better view of themselves: “I think I began loving myself,” said Helen. “There’s a difference between just taking care of yourself and loving yourself. I’m working on loving myself.”
Keeping a positive attitude can also change the way people feel about the future. “I think a person should feel everything in life,” Alan said, “even the negative things. But I tell myself I’m fine and I’m going to be fine as long as I can. I have this feeling, I could be here when a cure comes. I’m very strong.” Helen says she’s never going to settle for less than she can have. Dean says he doesn’t know what will happen in the months ahead, but he doesn’t want to give up: “I’ve worked too hard, I’m a good person, and I have a will power that won’t quit. I want to make something positive out of something negative.”
Dean has a motto he uses to keep himself active and interested in life: “A body at rest stays at rest,” he says, “and a body in motion stays in motion.” He borrowed the motto from his
high-school physics class and, he says, “I say it over and over. I use it to think myself well.”
People come to believe that life need not be perfect or infinite to be good, and that hope can come in little packets and delight can come from little things. “I’ve been able to cope and feel happy and delighted about living,” said June. “A lot has to do with your attitude toward life. You like it or you don’t.”
*247\191\2*

HIV: ON LIVING-TAKING CONTROL: A POSITIVE ATTITUDEPeople affected by AIDS agree on this, that the single most important thing they can do is to keep a positive attitude.     During one of Dean’s serious illnesses, he was near death. While he was recovering, he said, “I sat and thought, ‘How long can I keep this game going, denying this disease? Do I want to continue? Do I have it in me?’ Then I thought, ‘I fought everything else, it’s up to me again. I’ll beat this too.’ In a way, death would have been easier. But I think about what I’d have missed—the pictures of Neptune from Voyager, my sister’s baby, my son growing up.”     Now Dean says he concentrates not on what he’s lost, but on what he has left. “I’ve become more conscious of the quality of life,” he says. “Now I’m concerned with living before I die, and living every minute. Sometimes it’s like a violent smack hits me: wake up and enjoy life.”     Steven has feelings that are almost identical: “I don’t know where my ability to enjoy life comes from. I love life so much, I want every minute. I keep myself occupied and my mind working. I compare myself to other people—I still have advantages others don’t. I’ve been fortunate, and it’s been a good life. It has been one big education. If this is all I’m going to get, okay. It’s not bad. It’s pretty good.”     Keeping a positive attitude can change the way people think of themselves. They think of themselves less as people with a disease and more as people who are—for the present, anyhow—alive. They say they know how to be alive and will live their lives the way they know how. They come to trust their own resources, to trust themselves. Sometimes they even become different people: “I’ve never liked telling anyone what’s going on with me,” said Alan, “but dealing with this disease has made me more open than any time in my life. I’m voicing my opinion more, am more self-confident.” Along with that comes a better view of themselves: “I think I began loving myself,” said Helen. “There’s a difference between just taking care of yourself and loving yourself. I’m working on loving myself.”     Keeping a positive attitude can also change the way people feel about the future. “I think a person should feel everything in life,” Alan said, “even the negative things. But I tell myself I’m fine and I’m going to be fine as long as I can. I have this feeling, I could be here when a cure comes. I’m very strong.” Helen says she’s never going to settle for less than she can have. Dean says he doesn’t know what will happen in the months ahead, but he doesn’t want to give up: “I’ve worked too hard, I’m a good person, and I have a will power that won’t quit. I want to make something positive out of something negative.”     Dean has a motto he uses to keep himself active and interested in life: “A body at rest stays at rest,” he says, “and a body in motion stays in motion.” He borrowed the motto from his high-school physics class and, he says, “I say it over and over. I use it to think myself well.”     People come to believe that life need not be perfect or infinite to be good, and that hope can come in little packets and delight can come from little things. “I’ve been able to cope and feel happy and delighted about living,” said June. “A lot has to do with your attitude toward life. You like it or you don’t.”*247\191\2*

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