Living with chronic condition like Fibromyalgia can be anything but joyful most days of the week. You are in pain, tired, and can be experiencing a myriad of other symptoms at any one time. And you often feel alone.
Then there’s the fact that you usually have to explain to people just what the heck Fibromyalgia Syndrome is and the fact that there is no good understanding of what causes it, thus there’s no cure as of yet. This alone can spin you into a life of social separation and loneliness.
It is widely believed that artist Frida Kahlo also would have been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, if there had been that diagnosis during her time. Her art depicts chronic pain and her diaries reflect a life filled with physical and emotional pain. Yet, she continued to do what she loved, which was to paint, and toward the end of her life she turned her attention to capturing everyday existence.
“I used to think I was the strangest person in the world but then I thought there are so many people in the world, there must be someone just like me who feels bizarre and flawed in the same ways I do. I would imagine her, and imagine that she must be out there thinking of me, too. Well, I hope that if you are out there and read this and know that, yes, it’s true I’m here, and I’m just as strange as you.”
Chronic Illness Stigma
Feeling flawed, strange, or alienated is common with chronic illnesses. But we should not feel stigmatized – we should feel part of the social norm. We didn’t ask for our condition. We didn’t choose this life of pain.
Do you know how to love yourself and find joy, despite your condition?
Finding Your Joy
So how do you go about finding your happy, joy-filled life? Here are four simple steps to start you on that journey.
Do what makes you happy! As the saying goes: “You know those things that make you happy? You should go do them.” Life is too short to be miserable.
Express Gratitude. Thank people. Keep a gratitude journal. Perform random acts of kindness. I have written about this many times here on this very blog, but the sheer act of being grateful can make us happier.
Find your purpose and passion. Hobbies are nice and keep you busy, but finding what you’re really passionate about will keep you coming back for more. What is is that you do that really sets your soul on fire? Painting? Photography? Volunteering? Writing a blog?
Build your tribe. Keep those people around you that support you through sickness and health, thick and thin. Friends, family, neighbors, colleagues. You know the ones that are good for you. Now figure out the ones you need to cut loose from your life.
My father has been the perfect example of this for me throughout my life. From his humble beginnings to his current terminal diagnosis, he has embodied these four steps. He taught me to follow my dreams, be happy, be thankful, and stay connected. He raised me to believe I could be anything I wanted to be, but that being happy was most important.
While my condition hasn’t always allowed me to pursue everything I have wanted to do, I have been able to find contentment and happiness along my journey. I prefer to be the optimistic, glass-half-full kind of person who doesn’t live a life of regrets, thus leading a more joy-filled life.
I hope you find that pot of gold at the end of your rainbow – whatever it looks like. Much like Frida Kahlo capturing everyday existence, my blog is about finding inspiration (and joy!) in my every day (fibro) life. I hope these four simple steps can help you find joy in your life, despite any condition or illness you carry with you.
Have you found what makes you happy? I would love for you to share your passions and those things that bring you joy!