Health Challenges: Ten Tips for Happiness
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!