Patch Adams’ prescription for how to live
How to live a life of joy
Published: Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, September 26, 2012 00:09
“Joy is a platform from which you launch your life,” according to Patch Adams who spoke at the Turnhalle on Sept. 19. There was certainly joy in his clothes as he stood at the front of the theater dressed in an oversized green shirt with bright geometrical patterns and multicolored aliens on the sleeves.
“Happiness is a choice,” Adams said. “You have to wake up and think, ‘I’ll be happy.’” This may sound easy, but Adams has found that many people struggle with it. There are three parts of what Adams calls the “Pain Paradigm”—loneliness, boredom, and fear—which lead to mental illness and cannot be cured by a pill which are all the medical system offers.
Adams is not a fan of the U.S. healthcare system. “It is not about health. It is not about care. It is not a system,” Adams said. As a doctor for 42 years, Adams has never charged anyone a dime for his medical services. He said that it is a disgrace that so many go without care because of money.
Adams also sees the lack of compassion in the medical field as a problem. His suggestion for the medical student who witnesses or interacts with an arrogant doctor is to send an anonymous bouquet of flowers with a card that compliments him profusely on his compassion.
The Gesundheit! Institute is Adams’ effort to create a healthy society. According to the website patchadams.org, “The Gesundheit! Institute is a project in holistic medical care based on the belief that one cannot separate the health of the individual from the health of the family, the community, the world, and the health care system itself.”
The medical system is not the only part of life in the United States that sparks Adams’ anger. Adams was enraged by injustice even in childhood. The US was supposed to be the land of the free, but growing up in the south in the 60s Adams was
surrounded by severe racism and segregation.
“I could not be quiet,” Adams said ,which caused his teen years to be very tumultuous. Between the ages of 17 and 18 he was in and out of mental hospitals until finally he decided, “You don’t kill yourself dummy; you make revolution.” From that time on, Adams has been dedicated to his pacifist revolution.
Adams proclaimed that he was open to differing opinions, but he may not be as open as he said.
When a member of the audience disagreed with Adams’ belief that capitalism and greed would bring an end to the world within the century, Adams said, “I love that you spoke up, but I can’t imagine that you spoke up from knowing what you’re talking about.”
Overall the reception of Adams’
message was positive. Several people stood up to ask Adams for advice. One bit of that advice given was that “life is short and you would not dare insult it by having a bad day.”