7 Highly Effective Habits Of Happy People With Illness
Posted Feb 11 2009 2:38pm
As I write this article my 4-year-old son sits beside me with a cold and a little fever. All he has said since he woke up today is “I’m better now. I’m all better.” Does our attitude change how we cope with illness and our level of happiness?
Everyone handles the troubles in their lives in assortment of ways. While some people put on a happy face and intentionally decide they will use their illness as an opportunity, others will drive home from the physician’s office anxious about how much longer they will be able to drive because of the seriousness of the pain. They’ll lie down on the couch and not leave the house for years. Why do some people thrive even though they have a chronic illness while others simply go into survival mode, even using the illness as an excuse for everything that goes wrong in their life?
So what do happy chronically ill people have in common?
Happy people who live with illness have the following in common:
 They have hope. Research has proven that hope can increase the speed at which people recover from surgery. Hope is vital and necessary to find contentment despite our circumstances. For example, the 2006 theme of National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week was “My illness is invisible but my hope shines through.” I couldn’t say it better.
 They persevere and keep going no matter what. Living with a chronic illness is painful! Emotionally, physically, and spiritually it has the ability to quickly drain our strength and spirit. Our health is one of the main things we depend on to help us conquer our dreams, even referring to the saying, “At least you have your health!” But people who live with chronic pain and still are happy have learned to persist in reaching for their dreams, or even re-examining their dreams in order to create new ones. At times, the news goals can be more exhausting than the original ones, but passion can create a lot of adrenaline.
 They are good advocates for their health. Paul J. Donoghue and Mary E. Siegel, authors of “Sick and Tired of Feeling Sick and Tired,” write “Getting this help in a consistently satisfying manner is as essential as it is challenging. You will need perseverance, courage and skill. You will need to understand your needs and be committed to getting them” (p. 160). Happy people feel like they have a say in their care and treatment and they seek out doctors that they have a partnership with who understands the lifestyle they desire and tries to help them reach it to the best of their abilities. For example, if you want to have children, you will find a doctor who supports this dream and gives you the medical support when needed.
 They don’t play the victim role. They say “Why not me?” rather than “Why me?” To form this attitude can take time if it doesn’t come naturally. But by being involved with organizations that serve people who are ill, have cancer, or who have left abusive homes–whatever your passions are–you will begin to understand that this world is not perfect. When things are going right in their lives, they recognize it as a blessing, not a right.
 They understand who they are and so aren’t overly sensitive, taking other’s comments too personally. If one has a strong faith this can make everything much simpler because one understands her value and worth as a person doesn’t count on what she can accomplish with her physical strength. She learns what she is accountable for (like an attitude) and not (like an infection that keeps returning). This can help keep away unnecessary guilt for things out of her power.
 They communicate adeptly. Being able to talk with others, explain your feelings, learning to listen effectively, and watching your words carefully, can help you avoid a lot of troubles. Misunderstandings, hurt feelings, and arguments can affect your whole life and your body’s capacity to cope with an illness. One must learn to manage bitterness and focus on healthy relationships. Happy people with illness are good at understanding when to talk about their illness and how much to share about their personal lives.
 They sincerely care about other people. Your illness may not have been the education you had hoped to get, but people who are happy see their experiences as a gift of knowledge. They can share their ups and downs, and struggles and successes with others who are going through challenging experiences and need a friend or mentor. To truly find happiness, we must search outside of ourselves and reach out to other people.
J.K. Rowling, author, once said, “It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” This quote is perhaps one of the most wonderful examples of a good attitude for those with chronic illness. Instant download of 200 Ways to Encourage a Chronically Ill Friend from “Beyond Casseroles” by Lisa Copen when you subscribe to HopeNotes invisible illness ezine at Rest Ministries. Lisa is the founder of Invisible Illness Awareness