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Resolving to be chronically happy: Guest post by Katina Rae Stapleton

katinaby Katina Rae Stapleton, guest blogger

When I was growing up, I loved Bobby McFerrin’s song “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.” I would sing these lines over and over again: “Don't worry be happy. In every life we have some trouble, when you worry you make it double.”

When I was diagnosed with lupus in my early teens, I had my first, true taste of worry. I was terrified that having lupus meant that I would live a painful, exhausted, unfulfilled life. In short, I thought that there was little chance that I could have lupus and be happy.

I thank God every day that I was absolutely wrong and that it is possible to have a chronic illness and be happy. While I am not happy all the time (no one is), I have learned through trial and error what aspects of my life contribute to happiness and which things don’t. I deliberately nurture the “happy things” (reading, listening to music, being with family and friends, etc.) and do my best to avoid the rest.

Recently, a friend of mine suggested that I read the Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. I did and was excited that Gretchen’s book captured my own core beliefs about happiness. She writes that you can approach living a happy life by first identifying what brings you “joy, satisfaction, and engagement,” and then committing to concrete actions that will boost these sources of happiness in your life. I was inspired by Gretchen’s book to identify and commit to 12 resolutions* that I believe will help me live a happier life with lupus in 2012. 

1. Let Go and Let God. I resolve to live the Serenity Prayer, which begins, “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.”

2. Create Order Out of Chaos. Instead of watching Clean House and Hoarders, I will actually organize my home into a clutter-free, restful space.

3. A Little Fabulous Goes a Long Way. Every so often I will treat myself to something special.

4. Save Myself First. I will make sure my basic needs are met before overextending myself for others.

5. Love my Body. Even though my body is not 100% healthy, I will love it anyway and do my best to take care of it.

6. Have Fun. When I am well, I will do fun things. When I am not well, I will still do fun things, just with more discretion.

7. Finish what I begin. I will break my goals up into tasks that I can actually achieve given my physical limitations.

8. Keep my temper in. When I am in pain or exhausted, I will not take it out on other people.

9. Be adventurous. I will not let lupus stop me from trying new things and stretching my boundaries.

10. Make Beautiful Things. I will make the time to do creative things simply because I enjoy them.

11. Cherish Life. I will be thankful for the great people and experiences in my life.

12. Be the Butterfly Within. I will explore the things that make me special and share them with the world.

I plan to spend the next year working on these resolutions and blogging about it on Butterfly Lessons: Living a Fabulous Life with Lupus. If you are interested in sharing your own “chronically happy” resolutions, please email me.

* Some of these resolutions were inspired by the Blue Bird Pledge which I learned as a Camp Fire Girl in childhood.

Posted: 10/20/2011 in Inspiration  |  Also posted in: Coping

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