Claire Wineland is one of the most remarkable people we’ve ever read about.
Wineland is a terminally ill 20-year-old living with cystic fibrosis who says she’s had more than 30 surgeries and continues to manage health complications. In an interview with CNN she shared the brilliant insights on how to live better that have earned her the nickname “Little Buddha” for her wisdom.
Wineland has become very comfortable with the fact that she is going to die from her disease, but that hasn’t stopped her from accomplishing more than most people do in a lifetime—even though she has spent a quarter of her young life in the hospital.
Wineland reportedly leads her own foundation, has given numerous speeches (including this TEDxLaJolla talk when she was 14), is writing a book, has been featured in magazines and more. She packs her days with significant, meaningful activities — something we all wish we could say as well.
Here are just a few things we can take away from her story and apply to our own lives, both at work and at home.
Know your worth
Wineland recognizes what she has to offer the world.
“All throughout my teenage years, I was able to hold on to the foundation as a means to remind me that I had value…It’s important for people who are sick to feel empowered. It gives them reason to take care of themselves,” Wineland told CNN.
The foundation’s mission shows how much it was designed to serve others in similar circumstances.
“The specific purpose of Claire’s Place Foundation is to provide heart felt help to children and young adults diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis, as well as their families, for the purpose of improving their quality of life. We hope to accomplish this by heightening awareness and providing education, skills, financial and emotional support,” the site says.
Wineland also focuses on making others more at ease.
“I can’t just expect people to know what to say…I have to make them see me as more than my illness,” she told CNN.
Enjoy life and lose the bucket list
Wineland shows why you shouldn’t rush through life, looking to check off experiences and goals without really enjoying them. She openly says you don’t need a bucket list in her “Dying 101” vlog on her website called The Clairity Project.
“The truth of the matter is when you realize that you’re gonna die, the biggest thing—at least for me, and a lot of other people that I’ve talked to—the biggest thing is you just wanna live life slowly. You just want to enjoy it. So my lesson here, is don’t let death make decisions for you,” Wineland says.
She adds, “the point shouldn’t be to try and just cram everything out before we die, because then, what we’re creating isn’t worth creating. We shouldn’t really be doing things in our life just because we may die soon. Because we’re all gonna possible die soon, so if we live our life making decisions and choices based off of that, then the things we’re making aren’t quite worth making. I feel like the stuff worth doing in your life is the stuff that you’re called to do because you feel like the world needs it—not because you just wanna cram it out before you die.”
Wineland reportedly stopped making videos with the production company “after no longer seeing eye-to-eye” with the business, and instead got more involved in giving talks instead and Claire’s Place Foundation instead.
Make each moment mean something
Being more present makes your life count more. While Wineland reportedly isn’t a fan of bucket lists, this paragraph from the story speaks directly to what she does instead.
“Fixating on a checklist of goals before she goes ‘sounds exhausting,’ she says, especially ‘when you’ve been dying your whole life.’ Instead, she’d rather focus on doing all she can in each moment,” Ravitz writes.
Even though Wineland reportedly left Santa Monica College because of her condition, she is now part of a “partnership” with Zappos for Good to make hospitals more comfortable. Here’s the talk where she reportedly addressed the company before the partnership started.
Give yourself permission to be human
Even though Wineland has been so actively engaged, she seems to let herself be human, and tells Ravitz about the reality of how she often feels bad, but keeps going. This resilience and vulnerability are key traits of successful people — but more importantly, they create a more joyful life.
She echoed this during a talk.
“It’s OK to feel pain and experience it…I’m not trying to fix myself. My suffering has given me so much,” she reportedly said at a TEDx talk in Encinitas, where Ravitz was present.
She also practices Buddhism currently, and did meditation and yoga in the past.
Wineland is a true example of what can happen when we remember that life can’t be put on hold