Of course, being miserable is truly relative. I can’t say I’ve ever experienced misery in my life, compared to billions around the world who struggle with hunger and disease, violence and cruelty. I’ve had such an easy life: born into a decent family, always fed, and well-educated. Friends, safety, enough $$$ to get by, all the basics and more, and often taking them for granted.
But we do live in our own worlds and in our own heads, and can be laid low by even relatively minor life events, like a broken wrist. The inability to take care of myself fully, to open a jar, or zip a blouse, and – more scary – the fear of disability, can make me glum. And I don’t want to waste any time being glum. So here are some of the ways I am trying to stay buoyant, during a difficult month or two. And maybe they’ll be of some help to you too, when you are having downtime.
Specialize in the things that you truly love. This is a time to watch your favorite movies, or a new documentary, or dive into a mystery that’s been sitting on your bed stand. There’s no need to be stoic about life’s little pleasures. And if you like a bit of trashy TV, go ahead and indulge. Distraction is a great way to cope with negative situations, even if it’s just for a few hours.
Measure your progress in tiny increments. If it only takes me four minutes to brush my teeth today, instead of 4 1/2 minutes yesterday, well, that’s progress. Every time I’m able to accomplish something on my own, without asking for help, I do a little happy dance. When I do the happy dance, I pretty much stand in one place because I don’t want to fall again.
Keep a sense of humor about your current situation. A lot weird and wacky things can happen when you’re sick or injured, and some of them will make great family stories in the years ahead. Many of these stories involve the backless gowns you get when you’re in the hospital. This doesn’t mean that we should fake being happy. We need to give ourselves permission to feel the sad feelings too. We let the negativity come to visit, but it can’t move in.
Get philosophical. I’ve been reading Zen Buddhism sites, to learn more about the art of accepting what is. A helpful question to ask ourselves is, “What am I supposed to learn from this?” What do I choose to focus on—the rose or the thorn?
Splurge on genuinely helpful things. Although I am living in terror of seeing the hospital bill, I’m splurging on hiring a housecleaner. Otherwise there’s not much scrubbing bubbles going around on around here. I also made an appointment with my dear friend and therapist Anne, to talk through some of the darker feelings I’ve had since the surgery. And a little bit of chocolate, or a little bit of wine, is not going to impair my recovery.
Stay fabulous, stay joyful, and see you at the new “Easy does it” Visible Monday,
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