You Can Be Happy

Dealing with a chronic illness or even more than one is tough stuff to be sure. At times you can get frustrated, tired, angry and feel defeated. But yes, you can be happy too. It is so easy to get caught up in the symptoms that make you feel miserable, the medications that you must take to function and all of the changes in your life due to the illness.

Some of us have lost friends, lost jobs, had to move, deal with family members who don’t understand, try to find doctors that know how to treat the disorders, buy special food, wear different clothes, change cleaning products, deal with daily pain… well, you get it; the list is long.

But despite what sounds like a terrible existence, we can experience joy, love, fun and of course, be happy. How do you find this when you are feeling such pain? By shifting your thoughts. We tend to focus on the sickness. After all, we feel sick! But, what if you begin to focus on other things…

  • Mindfulness: you have all heard it, over and over. But do you practice it in your every day life? It is simply being aware from moment to moment and noticing exactly what is happening around you and within you. Right now, I’m writing this, but I also hear the water fountain in my husband’s office, so relaxing. I’m also aware that my back hurts, so I get up and stretch for a couple of minutes. I am staying in this present moment. No ruminating over past events or worrying about possible future events. You know how that is? Will I need to Epi and call 911 again? Will the ER know what to do? Have a plan but don’t waste energy. The present is just that… our present to ourself.
  • Gratitude: whether you write in a gratitude journal, use an app on your phone or share around the dinner table each night, expressing gratitude will shift your thoughts from fear and negativity to joy and positivity. If you’re not a believer, just try it for 2 weeks. Faithfully write down 3 things every day that you can be grateful for. Some days, it may be, I woke up today; I have eyes that can read my friends’ posts; I can hear this beautiful music. Others don’t have them. Some days will be better. I have books and books of written gratitude. I enjoy going back and re-reading them.
  • Music: whatever kind of music that makes your heart soar, your feet tap and your body relax is perfect. Some like jazz, some like country, others prefer rock, some like classical or maybe hip hop. I’ve been known to turn up the volume and dance when no one is around except my pup, Buddy. Good for the soul.
  • Plan a vacation: many of us do not get to go on vacations. Travel is difficult. But research from the Netherlands shows that the act of just planning a trip causes more happiness than actually taking the trip. So choose a fun and exciting destination and plan away!
  • Kindness: this is an interesting one but try it. According to Martin Seligman, the author of The Pursuit of Happiness, acts of kindness with no expectation of a reward, bring happiness. Even when we are struggling with chronic disorders, there are times we can fit in moments of kindness for another. You will feel that endorphin high. Nice!
  • Smile: even when you feel like you have nothing to smile about, smile. Your brain will perceive the smile as happiness and it can literally change your mood. My nickname at my last job was “smiley”.   🙂

I would LOVE to have you share your happy moments with me. And here’s a photo of “smiley” with Buddy.smiley

I Could Be Happy If…

Are you happy? Really happy and content with your life? If you are, good for you! But if not, you are not alone. Many people are always searching for that allusive feeling of happiness, joy and contentment. Although happy moments occur, they feel uneasy about their future. The search for the BBD- bigger, better deal is on.

This uncomfortable feeling of uncertainty can lead to emotional eating to stuff down the feeling. Often it is unconsciously happening. There is no awareness that this uneasiness is causing you to eat that whole bag of delicious cookies.

I used to be this person. Worried about not having enough money (I did struggle as a single parent), not having enough “things” to give my kids, not loving my job as much as I though I should, and on and on. I thought happiness was out there. I began to realize that happiness was within, not out there. I’ll offer you a couple of ways that helped me to get to where I am now. By the way, the smallest, seemingly insignificant thing makes me happy now, because I choose it.

Make a list of the 5 things that make you happy right now. It doesn’t matter what they are, just things that are doable. Then make a list of the 5 things you fret about. From your happy list, how often do you do them or experience them? Daily, weekly, monthly? From your fret list, how many can you actually do anything about?

Starting today, increase the amount of time doing or experiencing the things on your happy list. We too often use the excuse that we are so busy. Well, let me tell you, several near-death experiences have taught me that every day is precious. Don’t waste even one day. By the way, spending time with my (adult) kids, Carrie and Christopher (pictured here), is one of the things that is on my happy list.

Carrie and Christopher

Then, check each item on your fret list that you can actually do something about. If you’re worried about those bills, contact your debtors and set up payment plans. You’d be surprised how agreeable they are to get your money on a regular basis, no matter how little. Next, for each item that you have no impact, agree to worry about it only during your worry time. (That article was in my March newsletter) If you’d like to receive my newsletter, send me an email with newsletter in the subject line to jan@inspiredhealthcoaching.com.

Focusing your intention on the things that make you happy and actively problem solving the things that stress you, will increase your overall happiness. When you’re happy, you will experience less emotional eating. If you like this post, please share.

Food and Your Mood

We knew that what you eat affects your mood. If you eat dark chocolate, you temporarily feel better from the caffeine and theobromine boost as well as the “feel-good” neurotransmitter release from your brain’s reward center. But now there is research from Dr. Brian Wansink, a professor at Cornell’s Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, that we tend to eat more healthfully when in a good mood than if you’re in a bad mood.

Along with his co-author of “Better Moods for Better Eating: How Mood Influences Food Choice”, Meryl P. Gardner, Associate Professor of Marketing at the University of Delaware’s Lerner College and Wansink say that before eating a meal or snack, think of something that makes you happy or grateful and you’ll eat less and better.

This sounds almost too easy, doesn’t it? Except I am very familiar with Dr. Wansink’s work and know that he puts many hours of research in his studies. It certainly is easy enough to try… and bodes well for us positive, glass half full people. The name of their research paper was “Better Moods for Better Eating”. Love it! Cranky people… take note!cornell010