Over 25+ years of ups and downs with health challenges, anxiety, mental illness, and chronic pain, I have trained myself to find the beauty in everything. I have learned to look for the silver lining, to find a positive reason difficult times are showing up in my life at that moment. In my opinion, you either adapt to this mindset or you continually suffer. The second option is way more difficult to deal with. Most times, it’s hard to find the beauty in that initial shock moment or even in the first few hours, days, or months. Developing the ability to even reflect after the fact, connecting the dots to find something positive that came from a difficult experience, is a very powerful tool to finding happiness in life.
One of the mindset skills I've used to find happiness is starting the day or moment with gratitude. We've heard this method so much that it might sound a little silly at first. But with practice and consistency, it returns so much. When all this abdominal pain started in December, I was grateful I was with friends in a super comfortable environment. Then, even crying in the parking lot after that first ultrasound doctor visit, I was grateful that we had our home with us. When questions and worry popped in my head about where I would be able to recover from surgery, we had a very good friend offer her home for as long as I needed to recover. When you lay a good foundation of serving others, challenging yourself, and keeping a positive mental attitude, I have found, when you need it most you are always taken care of. Call it God, Karma, Energy, Faith, or the Universe, whatever you call it, it works.
I recently listened to a clip from Joe Rogan’s podcast (not my Joe Rogan, the other Joe Rogan. LOL) where he stated, “There’s a lot of ways you can look at bad events. Difficult things make regular life less difficult. It’s valuable for your mind. Being able to navigate through this world with some sort of an understanding of how complex it all is and how weird it all is. And not being overly thrown off with every little dip in the road and pothole you encounter.” I love these statements and feel we have designed our lives this way. We have set ourselves up for these mental exercises with living the nomad van life. Every day has a new challenge, a new adventure, a new thing to be grateful for. Our minds are kept sharp and curious to learn. So, when these big, bad events happen in our lives, like the possibility of having surgery, we are able to navigate them more easily, calmly, and productively.
Another challenge I can be grateful for is being stuck in central Florida because of doctor visits spread out over several weeks and months. Normally, we do not like being in a place for more than two weeks. Any longer and we start feeling the itch to get on the road again. But being tethered to the Orlando, FL area has afforded us more quality time to spend with Joe’s dad and his wife. Our parents are getting older, and we never know how much time we have with them. Sometimes we get moving so fast or focused on our goals that we still forget to make time for those closest to us. Yes, this pain is difficult to bear but would we have slowed down to spend as much time with them as we have? Looking forward, imagining my future, I can see myself fully healed and living very comfortably, looking back at the good memories we made during this time and the insights we have gleaned to bring us to the next level of our human experience. Those positive moments I can value versus what might be discouraging right now.
This will be my 4th major surgery (Appendix, Gallbladder, Thyroid). For me, it’s time to look for patterns of what has led up to this. At this point in time, I can see that for each major surgery there was a very intense emotional event in my life. Having had bipolar and being very aware of my mental state, it’s become very important to me to take the time to look inward on my emotions and how they affect my body. I believe (along with some doctors and scientists) that our body holds emotions in a physical way. When we hold on to those emotions too much, letting them fester within us, they can produce some very serious physical effects. I have found some very intriguing connections with my own experiences. It seems likely that I somehow encapsulate these intense emotions into a disease or tumor in my body. Once I eliminate the tumor or illness, my body and mind seem stronger and ready to leap into my next big success. I speculate this because most of the doctors I’ve seen never know why or how I get them. They don’t understand how some of my pain can move around my body. For as great as the medical field is, many doctors still have not made the connection of how emotions affect the body in physical forms. People like Dr. Joe Dispensa and the practitioners of the NET technique are finally putting science to these emotional/physical links. So much that this is how we design our lives, both the positive and negative thoughts produce results. Choose the positive ones.
I fully expect the best possible outcome to this next surgery. My mindset is strong and positive in my decisions. I have confidence that my life will be improved by this next bump in the road. Like I said earlier, this mental awareness and grateful heart take a lot of practice. Practice that has had exponential rewards for us. After many years of learning and practicing, we still occasionally get tripped up and we need to refocus. That’s part of living a full and adventurous life. It’s also part of designing your life. There is only so much we can design and control while balancing going with the flow and spontaneity we so much enjoy. Blending the unexpected experiences of life’s journey with our goals and dreams. Finding balance in an unbalanced world. Balance is feeling both the highs and the lows equally, being grateful for all those moments so you know which ones to appreciate even more.