Cancer or a 6:30 Martini: Which Do You Prefer?


Cancer or a 6:30 martini; which do you prefer? Winifred Gallagher had both. Here’s her story and her remarkable discovery.

Her Story:

Winifred Gallagher was diagnosed with cancer. Not just cancer, but a nasty and fairly advanced kind.

In her 2009 book titled Rapt, Gallagher recalls walking away from the hospital after being diagnosed with cancer and having this sudden and strong intuition:

“This disease wants to monopolize my attention, but as much as possible,
I’ll focus on my life instead.”

Her treatment that followed was exhausting and terrible, but Gallagher couldn’t help but notice that her commitment to focus on what was good in her life—”movies, walks, and a 6:30 martini”—instead of constantly focusing on her cancer, was working surprisingly well during that difficult season of her life.

Gallagher writes, “My life during this period should have been mired in fear and pity, but instead it often felt quite pleasant.”

Her Discovery:

Through her experience with cancer, Gallagher set out to better understand what the role that attention plays in a shaping and defining the quality of our life. That is, she wanted to better understand how, what we choose to focus on and what we choose to ignore, directly effects how we feel and how we behave.

According to Gallagher’s experience and ongoing study, plus what decades of research from numerous other like studies –

Gallagher concluded that our brains construct our worldview based upon
what we pay attention to.

If you focus on a cancer diagnosis, you and your life become unhappy and dark, but if you focus instead on an evening martini, (her focus for  delight), you and your life become more pleasant—even though the circumstances in both scenarios are the same.

As Gallagher summarizes: “Who you are, what you think, feel, and do, what you love—is the sum of what you focus on.”

Gallagher’s discovery reaffirms a universal truth that God established eons ago… “As a man thinketh, so is he.”  (Proverbs 23:7)

So The Obvious Question Is:

What are you focusing on?  What are you giving attention to?

How you and I answer that question, to a great degree, determines the direction in life we go and the quality of the life we live.

Living on Purpose
Ken L Roberts


*Excerpts taken from the book Deep Work by Cal Newport

Please Leave A Comment: I’d love to hear how you “practice” having right thinking.


Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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5 thoughts on “Cancer or a 6:30 Martini: Which Do You Prefer?

  1. I can absolutely attest to this Kenny! Having been in similar circumstances about 14 and a half years ago. I listened to what my Heavenly Father told me about the situation I was in and decided that He ALWAYS knows what’s going on and I always know I can fully trust Him in all things. Yes, I went through chemo and radiation and shots, etc…. but my focus was on living my life, continuing all my activities and glorifying my Father. That brought me and my family such peace and joy. It was a glorious season and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
    Love and blessings,

  2. Pastor that’s a reason well thought, sometimes bad things fall apart so better things can fall together, or better, we think of value or distance ourselves to see things more clearly.
    Rev Wafula Wanyonyi.

  3. Although my experience doesn’t involve a disease, it is life changing for me. I teach 1st grade in a high poverty school. My students come to me late, hungry, tired, abused, neglected, lacking social skills, unable to stay focused, many not knowing their last name. In my 13 years of teaching these students, I’ve learned that what I focus on increases. If I point out that they are being too loud, they quiet down briefly, but the volume goes back up. If I point out that they are out of line when we travel in the hallway, they get in line, but someone else gets out of line. But if I look for just one student who is working quietly and recognize them for it (“I like the way Lucas is working quietly.”), the majority of them start working quietly. If I recognize those following hallway line procedures, (“Thank you Dala and Spelman for following hallway procedures.”), the majority of them get in line. I’d like to say that I always remember to focus on those doing the right thing, but the stress of this job gets me down. Everyday. So I have to make the decision, day to day; sometimes hour to hour, to focus on what is going right, look for those making the right choice and respond positively. This choice lifts my mood, increases the behavior, and creates a better learning environment for me and my students