Health Challenges: Ten Tips for Happiness

By Guest Blogger   |  32Comments|

By Maria Mooney

Over the past five years, my illness evolution has unfolded exactly the way it was meant to unfold, and I have thoroughly enjoyed the process, admittedly becoming impatient at times. My diagnosis of Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy/Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (RSD/CRPS) has been my greatest gift, my teacher, and my master, bringing me closer to my core self, others, and a higher power. I received the message loud and clear in the form of incessant, burning, widespread neurological pain, but I am on the road to health and healing with the help of a spiritual counselor, who can be likened to a therapist, psychic/intuitive, and best friend all wrapped into one. She guides me on my spiritual journey by accessing my spirit guides and creating an individualized plan just for me.

I am often asked how I “do it”—how do I achieve happiness with what should be a debilitating illness while pursuing a Master’s degree, nurturing fulfilling relationships, and believing I am healing from an “incurable disease?” It has taken five years of self-reflection—breaking down my old, limiting belief systems and replacing them with new, life-affirming principles—to get me where I am today. As a result, I want to share with you my “Ten Tips for Happiness.” I hope you enjoy them!

1. Be Grateful: Being grateful for the abundance in your life and focusing on the positives can raise your vibrational energy, which always aids in healing. ALWAYS being positive can create a shallowness in relationships with others and yourself. Instead, honor your feelings of sadness and frustration when they arise, and then remember to move on. You receive what you focus on, so focus on healing rather than pain, disease, frustration, etc.

2. Set Healthy Goals: Setting healthy goals can aid in feelings of self-confidence and self-worth when an illness threatens the very core of who you know yourself to be. You don’t have to be in a Master’s program to achieve a goal. Learn how to draw, speak a new language, write some poetry, etc. These goals are all just as, if not more, important and offer distractions, especially if you are in pain.

3. Change Your Mindset: Learn to view your illness or any setback as an opportunity for growth and personal development. See what society has taught us are negatives and view them as positives by finding the lessons. Fighting your illness suggests that it is separate from you and is your adversary; healing cannot take place when you are waging a war against your own body. Relax into the discomfort and find the lessons. They are there! TRUST ME!

4. Go Inward: In our materialistic, dualistic, ego-centered society, we are taught that if a problem arises, look OUTSIDE for the cause. Did someone’s negative attitude make me sick? Is my environment toxic? Is my food polluted? Are my genes flawed? We are so quick to attribute the cause of our suffering to some outside phenomenon, but in many cases, the cause and cure for our ills—personal and social—can be found inside of us. Start looking!

5. Be in Mindful Awe: With the hustle and bustle of today’s world, we tend to forget to stop and smell the proverbial and real roses. Take a moment to allow yourself to be in awe of the wonders of the world and that divine intelligence that helps those ordinary miracles unfold. Be mindful of the present moment, because the past is over and the future doesn’t exist. Accept where and who you are in this moment and enjoy the process of life.

6. Be a Child: Look at any small child before society has forced its belief systems upon him/her. The child, if from a loving family, does not have a care in the world and only lives for the pleasures of the present moment. The child does not need to control every single detail of his/her life, does not judge, desires to spread love, and always has FUN. You will not sacrifice your maturity by taking some notes from a child.

7. Let Go of Ego: You know ego—that little voice inside of you that judges (you and others), fears the unknown, is attached to the material world, and desires to control every little detail. The first step to overcoming your ego mind is to become aware of its presence, so listen closely as you go through your day. Once you recognize it, you are more likely to let it go. Replacing the negative chatter of the ego mind with positive, life-affirming thoughts will help raise your vibrational frequency and heal your body.

8. Listen to Intuition and Others: *Let me preface this by affirming my love for each and every one of you.* We don’t have all the answers. If we did, we would be healed already. Put your ego aside and listen to the teachings of those who are wise in their fields. If you tap into your intuition, which is the voice of God, you will know the right direction to go. Have faith that your intuition will guide you.

9. REST: Over its development, our society has decided that if you aren’t constantly achieving in the specific ways that society deems admirable, you aren’t a worthwhile human being. This is not true! Rebel! Decide to take care of yourself, to go outside of the box and REST. Find that balance between work and play; if you don’t, your body will force you to stop, whether or not you are prepared.

10. Read: I have found that reading self-help/spiritual/alternative medicine books has been a great supplement to my past and present therapeutic experiences. While you read, take what concepts appeal to you and integrate them into your belief system. I have read approximately thirty books outside of the texts necessary for my Master’s program in the last year, and they have been an integral piece of my healing. The same books that appeal to me may not appeal to you, so explore a little.

Maria is a 25 year old, raw vegan graduate student living with a progressive neurological disease, Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy/Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (RSD/CRPS). Follow along as Maria reflects on lessons learned through her health challenges, shares her experiences with alternative and traditional treatments, enjoys life to its fullest, and heals herself at her blog!

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32 responses to Health Challenges: Ten Tips for Happiness
  1. Hi, everyone! I just want to say thank you so much for allowing me to share my experiences with you. If I have helped one person, all of this pain has been worth it. I love each and everyone one of you xoxoxo

  2. Gosh I love this lady! :) Great tips, M! Keep up the healing! XOXOXO

  3. Maria, thanks so much for these amazing reminders. You are so inspiring!

  4. Indu said on June 9, 2010

    Super special guest is SO true!!!
    Great stuff Maria!!

    Much love:)

  5. I ran across your blog,and it reminds me of an author I know. Alesia Shute is a childhood cancer survivor who has dedicated her adult life to finding a cure for cancer. 100% of the profits from her book, Everything’s Okay, go directly to The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, the very place she fought and won her own battle with cancer. Check out her website, http://www.everythingsokaybook.com. Maybe you could work together to spread the message. Here’s to keeping up the fight!

  6. Lauren, Megan, and Indu, thank you so much! Love you girls!

    Hi, Kelly! That’s wonderful! I will have to take a look. Great idea!

  7. Maria – wow! Awesome blog post – I could relate to everything you said – you are such an inspiration!

  8. I love love LOVE this post. I had to read it over three times so that I could fully absorb every morsel. I especially like the first challenge, especially honoring your feelings of sadness and then moving on. It’s an area of frustration for me. I forget that I can be sad during hard times and not feel guilty about it. I am going to post these challenges on my fridge!

    Much love,


  9. Hi my little angel! Thank you again for the honor of letting me walk with you on this amazing journey! I feel so happy to see these steps as they are exactly what we have worked on over the time together…thank you for putting them on paper so articulately! I hope all the readers will know that our challenges often teach us the most valuable lessons in our lifetime. Being sick is not nor does it have to be a curse if you choose to see it as a blessing. That is where the real power is…not in fighting and hating your disease, but loving it until its power is gone. It is at this point that the body can work its magic and begin to find healing. Namaste. Lynn

  10. Jeanne and Red, thank you so much for reading and finding my journey inspiring. It means the world to me!

    Lynn, you are MY angel! Your power is incredible, and I would be in the dark without your light. Love you! xoxo

  11. Maria-

    This was just what I needed. I am at a turning point in my life right now after graduation and beginning the journey of everything beyond. I am looking forward to getting on the right road forward to live my life to the fullest extent possible.
    All your posts brighten my day and let me know that I am not alone in all that I am experiencing and greater powers that I have been so lucky to experience the magic of-
    So, Maria, Thanks again for helping me on my journey. It means so much to me.
    Love love,

  12. Tina said on June 9, 2010

    Great post, Maria! Keep growing and blooming :)

  13. Love this SO much. Thanks for sharing and I’m going to pass it on.

  14. You are amazing!! Love you! I have learned so much from you. :)

  15. Very cute doggie and picture – I wonder if that is a healing guide dog?
    Thank you for sharing your story, healing is quite a big deal and the moments to get “down and out” are so great and wide…I know first hand.

    I like your 10 ideas for happiness….right now not when all is well :)
    Thank you

  16. Rosemary, you are so welcome! I know this is a scary time for you, but you can do this. I have so much faith in you, my sweet friend. xoxo

    Patricia, he is a healing dog but not a guide! Just my buddy :-)

    Christy, Tina, and Mary, thank you so much for all of your kind words!

  17. I like the “Let go of your Ego – desires to control every little detail.” I struggle with this. Thank you.

  18. Thank you for such beautiful wisdom that pours forth from such a beautiful heart. You speak the truth with such insight and authority. Grace and peace to you on your road to wellness. xoxo

  19. Hi, Aussie! We all struggle with ego. It’s a part of being human. The fact you can recognize it gives you a head start!

    Shelley, my sweet angel. YOU are the one who speaks with such grace! Thank you for your constant support along this journey of mine. I have made GREAT strides!

  20. Thank you Maria, for those reminders. I especially like the one about rest. It seems you have be really radical to suggest that plain old rest is really healthy. Thanks for the spiritual uplift in this post and keep on with your good self!

  21. Hi, Barbara! You’re right! It is so radical these days to even consider finding a balance. That’s sad. I’m so glad you enjoyed this! Sending love xoxo

  22. Wow Maria, you go girl! What a list, thank you. I am in a phase right now where I am having a hard time accepting my condition, so thanks for showing us it can be done. I subscribed to your blog. Best wishes to you!

  23. Hi, Amber! I am so pleased that this has been able to help you during this difficult time. Sending you love xoxo

  24. you have beautifully written your feelings which might help us to think n practise for our own good!thanx

  25. Hi, Sara! You’re very welcome xoxo

  26. Thanks Maria! I LOVED what you shared here. I am 5 weeks into recovery from a challenging knee surgery that took us all for a loop and resulted in me not being allowed to bear weight for a month. Dealing with that and learning to basically walk again has been really hard, both mentally and physically. Luckily I’ve got a wonderfully supportive husband (couldn’t have done it without him), and a growing mindfulness practice. Like you, I’ve found solace in some great alternative books – most with a Buddhist focus – , along with communing with nature and being in the present. Thanks for the solid reminders of how to face challenge with grace and gratitude! Be well!

  27. thnx…your experiences help me in my daily life…

  28. Hi, Molly! I am so glad this helped you, and good luck to you on your recovery xoxo

    Hi, Almera! Great! So glad this has been helpful to you xoxo

  29. thanks you so much for your post. you have been able to put into a short article those truths which so many of us lose sight of in our day to day lives. thanks again!!

  30. Thank you, Susan! So glad you enjoyed this post.

  31. Thank you.

  32. Thank you so much for sharing this story. It has helped and encouraged me more than you know. Although I don’t have chronic pain to deal with, I have some very discouraging issues in my life and these tips will be so incredibly helpful. Thanks for being open with us and sharing what’s in your heart. :)