People often wonder how I'm able to cope with being disabled at this age and living with pain on the daily basis. My strategy involves being grateful for what I have rather than being unhappy about what I lack. Happiness, I've found, is easiest to discover when you want what you have. There are, of course, situations that people can find themselves in that are truly awful, but if many of your needs are being met, you may find that it's possible to realize happiness within your limitations, whatever they may be.
|Better living through chemistry|
It wasn't lithium alone that made me capable of seeing the world in a way that focuses on what I have to be grateful for. I went through some excellent and intensive therapy that trained my brain to recognize these things. (Of course, lithium was essential in making me able to absorb and embrace the therapy. I know this because I started the therapy before I started lithium and there was a marked before-and-after difference!) One of the central tenants of Dialectical Behavior Therapy is that it is possible to hold two opposing beliefs in your mind at the same time, namely, "My situation is hard, unfair, miserable, disappointing, etc." AND "I am capable of feeling happiness, joy, pleasure, satisfaction, etc." This way of thinking can free you. Feeling happy in no way invalidates the reality that you are suffering. But suffering in no way prevents you from finding happiness. To find happiness involves learning to see it, to find it, to will it, to make it. This doesn't come naturally or easily. But if you become skillful enough, it becomes unthinkable to live any other way.
Cases in point:
|I still clean up alright|
Other things I am routinely grateful for include having a warm, safe place to live; caring, respectful, medically-literate parents who are able to afford the health care I need; the love and friendship of my wonderful sister; the excellent doctors and other care providers I have on my team; my art and ability to create; and the internet, which allows me to keep in touch with many people, share and sell my art, and even watch TV. In fact, I've become so accustomed to seeing the world through the eyes of someone who's grateful that is almost difficult for me to see myself as someone who is unlucky or in a bad situation. Yeah, yeah, I have the daily migraines and all of the complications that go with that, and sometimes I do get frustrated by how little I can do, but often it doesn't seem worth complaining, not when I have so much I'm grateful for.
|Abbey celebrates the simple|
pleasure of peanut butter
|It took a nice camera to take this picture, but all it took to find it was keeping my eyes open.|
I found this rain-drenched hydrangea just around the corner from my house.
|Beautiful color, evocative odor|
|Laugh all you want, but I think the |
centuries of innovation and all the
tiny gears that make this watch tick
are pretty amazing.
Science is cool. Ideas are cool. There's a lot amazing technology out there. Our bodies, even when being difficult, are absolutely fascinating. There are so many engrossing sights and stories and sounds to be absorbed. So much of the world is beautiful.
|One of my favorite Mouse photos makes|
something beautiful out of poisoned grass
I choose to be happy. I choose to be grateful.