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

Random Acts of Kindness Week

February 10-16, we celebrate Random Acts of Kindness Week. This is a special week to step out of your routine, out of your comfort zone and celebrate by attempting a random act of kindness each day. It doesn’t need to be a major life-altering event. Something small can make a difference.

How about smile at each person you see? You may just alter their day! That’s free and easy. This is my personal favorite! The ideas are limitless. You can also pay it forward. As someone does for you, you do for someone else.

Helping others is good for our health! When we reach out to provide assistance to those in need, studies show that it reduces our stress level and increases our immunity.

My Grandma DeCicco was a sweet, loving Italian woman. She loved cooking… for everyone. And helping anyone she came into contact with, in whatever way she could. Grandma always said, “Do something nice for someone, but don’t tell anyone. It takes away the good when you brag about it.” Wise woman!! This is my grandma who left this earth in 1964, but her love and wisdom stays with us. What random act of kindness will you do?Grandma DeCicco

Surgery Update

I wanted to give everyone an update. I am home and doing well after my surgery. I am sore, but only the expected typical pain after having a kidney removed. This is me hanging out on my couch… a new experience for me. I have always been an extremely active person who rarely sat. I have been given strict instructions by my surgeon to NOT overdo (guess they know me well), so I have been listening to my body and sleeping when I’m tired, eating when hungry and lying down when fatigued.
I have been blessed with amazing friends and family that have provided love and support and a husband who has been awesome!
Thank you all for your kindness and caring… it has meant a lot to me!!