What do you think is the key to happiness? Is it being able to overcome a hard time? Laughter? Maintaining a positive attitude? Tell us what you think and why.
The key to happiness with chronic pain and illness is a complicated question I think. Illness and pain wear us down. Therefore to some extent, it is key for us to actively do things that maintain our moods. That is pretty vital.
One example of this is the fact that when we are in pain, fatigued and not feeling well we are less inclined to do activities and socialize. However, this leads to isolation. Isolation can lead to depression. Therefore as difficult as it is to do we have to encourage ourselves to maintain some social activities, always keeping in mind our pacing. As well as doing activities we enjoy for the sake of simply enjoying them. Because I love to learn the hard way, and I am an introvert at heart anyway, I became quite the hermit myself. I used all my energy on what I felt was necessary and never had anything left over to maintain any social life. So it evaporated. Until I was very much a hermit. I have slowly developed it back again, keeping in mind my pacing, and very much see the value of spending time with people I enjoy.
However, other things like laughter have always been on the top of my list of coping skills. I in fact actively developed my own sense of humor as a coping mechanism. I wanted to laugh more. I wanted to make other people laugh more so that I could laugh more. Just the act of smiling changes our brain chemistry. To change our mood we just have to fake a smile… and our brain believes we are feeling the emotion associated with the behavior. So I sort of faked it until I made it. I found it fundamental in distracting myself from pain in the work environment.
I am not sure if maintaining a positive attitude is of any benefit, to be honest. I am a realist. Always will be. However, we do have to maintain our Thoughts. Because pain, when we get to thinking about it, can cause some serious negative thoughts. We have to challenge those thoughts or they could lead to some very negative thinking and depression. I think we all have to battle this at some time or another. I tend to have an issue when I am highly stressed, in a high level of pain at night when I cannot sleep. Seems like the pain will never end. I have to remind myself while the pain is, in fact, chronic, the high intensity will in fact end. This helps stabilize my mood so that I do not work myself into a depressed state.
Sometimes I think the key to happiness with chronic pain is being open to the joys and happiness we have available to us. Not limiting ourselves to the extent we no longer socialize. No longer go out there and seek out activities or hobbies or leisure events we would enjoy. No longer take a walk to enjoy the fresh air. Take in life. We have limits. And we need to pace ourselves at all times. Manage our pain in all the ways that work for us, but above all, we should never stop living.