If someone had shared this advice with me before chronic pain became a part of my life, I would have turned and walked away, convinced that they were beyond stupid.
Ok. Maybe not.
I probably would have had to fight the urge to roll my eyes, though.
But after dealing with chronic pain for the past 16 years, I think it might be the most important tip for thriving despite chronic illness.
Ok. Y’all ready?
Here it is:
Happiness is a choice *
I’m not saying it is an easy choice. But it does seem to boil down to whether you want to make the most of your life, despite all its challenges, or accept defeat and curl up into a sad, angry ball.
There will be plenty of days where you will feel terrible and curling into a ball will seem like the only option. And that is ok.
But making sure that you spend most of your days trying to recognize and appreciate the good things in your life is an infinitely more worthy project.
Yes, bad things happen.
That has been and always will be true.
But the truth is that we only have one life. Let’s make it the best it can be.
It feels super weird writing this, by the way. Mostly because trying to find the silver lining is not something I come by naturally.
I’m from a long line of pessimists. I’ve suffered from depression since I was a teenager, and in more recent years, anxiety has joined the party, too.
Meds helped some. So did therapy.
But somewhere along the way I realized that I was responsible for my choices in this life, including my responses to external events.
In fact, the only thing I really have control over is my response to external events.
And back when I realized this there was no denying that my outlook on life left me feeling miserable.
So, I made steps to try to change.
And thankfully, over time, I did.
Meditation helped a lot.
As did reading books like Man’s Search for Meaning and The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living.
So, while there is plenty in this world to be depressed by or angry about, there is also plenty of stuff that is wonderful.
Even though it may never come as easily as I’d like, I prefer to focus on the good things. How about you?
*Crazily enough, it seems that science backs me up on this. Cool!