Saturday, February 25, 2012

My Take on Happiness

Over the past few years that I've been writing my blog I've been getting more and more of what I like to call "fan mail." I know fan mail doesn't sound very humble, but I hope people realize that I'm saying it in a very "tongue-in-cheek" way. However, I admit that I really do love getting feedback from the people that read/enjoy my blog. This fan mail comes in the form of comments left on my blog, messages via Facebook or personal e-mails. I want everyone to know just how much I appreciate them taking the time to contact me.

One of the things that people often tell me is that they find my outlook on life refreshing, or they ask me how I manage to be so happy in the face of such a great trial. A lot of people tell me that they wish they could be as happy as I am, but for one reason or another they struggle with staying positive. This makes me sad for them and it doesn't seem quite fair that I should be blessed with so much joy while at the same time there other people who struggle to find any joy at all. I feel like I'm hogging all of the life's joy for myself and I wish I could share it with others. I'd gladly part with some of my joy so that others might have a little more of their own.

But now to answer the question that I get asked so often; how do I stay so happy and positive? I don't have the perfect answer, but here are a few bits of knowledge and things that I tried to remember that I find make a difference in my life.

1 – God exists and He has a plan for us. I know that there is a God and that He created us. We are His children and He has a plan for each of us. Above all else, this knowledge is the number one thing that helps me be happy. I often hear people say that if there really is a God that loves us, then why does He allow bad things to happen to us? I don't have all of the answers for everyone's individual circumstances, but I know that I have a mission to fulfill in my lifetime and part of that mission is to bring joy to the lives of others. I know that in order for me to be successful with this, it was necessary for me to become paralyzed. This might be a hard concept for some people to wrap their minds around, but I know that I wouldn't have near as much impact on helping others find joy if I weren't in this situation.

2 – Things could always be worse. No matter who you are or how bleak your situation may seem, things could always be worse. There is always someone whose situation is more dire than yours. Most people probably think my situation of being totally paralyzed and dependent on others for all of my physical needs is pretty awful. Don't get me wrong, it IS tough and there's a lot of disappointment that someone in my situation experiences, but I'm still living a really good life. I'm happy, I have a nice place to live with plenty of food to eat and water to drink and I'm able to spend my days doing what I love (using my laptop to reach out to others in the world).

I don't lack any of my basic necessities. My life probably seems downright grand and luxurious to others in the world, and yours probably does, too. For example, people in Africa who are living through a famine right now and don't have enough food to eat or even clean water to drink. Or the people who live in war ravaged countries like Syria, Libya and Egypt where they are oppressed and don't have the most basic of freedoms and who are forced to live in fear. Or people who have to suffer  physical, sexual or emotional abuse at the hands of their family members. When you think about how much worse things could be it makes you pretty grateful for what you do have, trials and all.

3 – Count your blessings. This goes along with what I just said. I think it's important to acknowledge and give thanks for all of the good things in your life so that when challenging times do come you don't lose sight of all that you have and what's really important. Gratitude can make a dark situation a little brighter.

4 – This too shall pass. It sounds cliché, but whether a trial lasts several months, several years or an entire lifetime, it will eventually end.  If your trial is a lifelong one (like mine) then you've just got to mentally adjust and press forward. Although this is easier said than done, I think this is a necessary step if you want to find happiness. More often than not, challenging circumstances are out of our control anyway, so being mad/angry/bitter doesn't change the situation at all; it just leads to frustration.

5 – What can I learn from this trial and how can I allow it to bless my life/other's lives? As difficult as a trial might be, I really think there's almost always something you can learn from it, if you allow yourself to. Trials have a way of defining what kind of person you are. You can either embrace your challenges and let them refine you and mold you into a better person, or you can let them turn you into a hard, bitter person.

6 – Pray. I know you might not be familiar with praying to God, but I find a power in prayer that is so wonderful. I know that when we pray, God listens and He answers us. God doesn't answer us with an audible voice, and He might not always answer us as quickly as we want or in the way that we want, but He does hear and answer prayers.  I know that there's no problem/situation that's too small or too trivial for God to care about, so go ahead and try it. Praying always helps me feel better.


Anonymous said...

Hi Heather,
amazing to hear your have such an incredible spirit. what do you think of Christina Symanski, so sad. she was unable to bear physical limitations such bowel program and constant AD. do you have AD? how do manage physical discomfort and pain for so many years and not complain about? i hope they will finaly invent something like stem cells soon for paralysis and alleviate your suffering. it makes me so mad that Bush stopped funding stem cell research.

ionamin-W8FW8 said...

wonderful advice!

Jackie said...

Another example of the power of the mind I think, after reading your next post. You have decided to be happy and have the strength to carry that through despite the bad days. That's what I admire, that inner strength that means you can decide 'this is the person I want to be' and to be happy in spite of everything. Depressions would be so much easier, self pity would be easier, but happiness is hard work. Worth it though.

Anonymous said...

Great post!

Anonymous said...

As always....wonderful, inspiring post ♥


Anne in Ireland said...

What wonderful advice for us all - thank you so much, Heather!
God bless.

Brea said...

Love this POST!!

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