Many people ask me, “How do you remain so positive with all the medical issues you have faced?” I have given this question much thought and it leads me to not an answer, but to another question… “Is happiness a choice?”
Life is not full of puppy dogs, rainbows, sunshine and unlimited amounts of frozen yogurt, although that would be awesome! Life is more like putting on a pair of True Religion Skinny Jeans that are a size too small after you just finished woofing down a whole birthday cake. Yes, à la mode… like you had to ask? Or you can look at life like a huge dressing room, where you are forced to shimmy into bathing suits with those fluorescent lights beaming down on you from above, basically highlighting all of your, pasty wobbly bits. Life is uncomfortable. To put it bluntly, it can suck! We all feel it, but the challenge is choosing to hold a smile through the pain.
As Bobby McFerrin said it best, “In every life we have some trouble. But when you worry, you make it double. Don’t worry, be happy.” That sounds great and all, but sometimes we can feel so overwhelmed, that is hard to see the sun. Now, obviously I am not tell people that have a chemical imbalance, Major Depressive Disorder or those who are suicidal that they just need to choose to be happy. That’s like a football coach, telling one of his players who broke his foot to walk it off or lance it and pack it with salt. Ummmm, No. Those people should seek medical attention, just like the player who just snapped his foot like a twig. Sorry… too soon?
My Wolfpack is full of energetic, optimistic and positive people, who are encouraging me to be my best everyday. This helps me stay happy and hopeful that my future is going to be pretty spectacular. Not to say that I don’t get sad or even angry, but that is what my wolfpack is there for. We all need to lean on each other at some point, but it is our positive energy as a whole that keeps us strong and determined.
Don’t underestimate the power of your mind. Yes, you may not be able to will your self out of depression, but could your negative thinking make you depressed? Absolutely! Self-fulfilling prophecy is the negative expectations or thoughts about something, which can lead to those beliefs becoming reality. If you look in the mirror everyday and say, “I am ugly… No one loves me… I am useless… I am a burden”, I can pretty much guarantee that one morning you will start to believe it. Or at least your dog will say, “Pardon me, but it is literally time for a new affirmation, yours is generally displeasing.” Yes, my dog has a British accent and no, I don’t know where he got it.
I am choosing to be happy, because it makes my life easier. Life is hard enough. I don’t need to wake up on the wrong side of the bed every morning. I use humor, because laughing is much more adorable than crying. I believe that positive energy attracts people. But most of all I believe that attitude is the key. I teach a fitness class for people with Parkinson’s disease and I know a big part of why people keep coming back is because of my bubbly personality. They’re hoping that maybe a little bit of my positivity will rub off on them. That maybe I can make them smile or at the very least make them laugh at what a dork I am. I know for a fact that if I were to tell them, “We’re all going to die! Why even try?” that I would be the only one showing up for class. Still not believing how important having a healthy attitude is… read the description of my life from Perky Parkie’s happy side vs. Poopy Parkie’s unhappy side.
Poopy Parkie’s view on life:
-I was 13 years old, just starting high school when my life was ripped from my hands. Diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis, I was made fun of by the cheerleading squad because I was different. I would go home in tears wondering why people were so mean. Then it was the colon cancer that left me being feed from a tube with a colostomy bag stuck to my stomach. Then as if I deserved it, I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. After enduring brain surgery to slow the progression of my degenerative neurological disorder, I had an emergency hysterectomy, which would rob me of any chance of having a baby. Now everyday, I sit at home, waiting for my meds to start working, so I can struggle through a life that will surely end in a hospital bed, alone, with only the glow of the television to keep me company.
Ok… now before you jump off a cliff, see what happens when I change my attitude.
Perky Parkie’s view on life:
-I was 13 years old, just starting high school when my life took a funky turn. Diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis, I was made fun of by the cheerleading squad because I was different. Even though I would go home in tears, I knew it was their own insecurities that made them treat me that way. Then with the support from my family and my determination, I survived colon cancer. It was a scary time, but I’m happy to say I made it through those challenges and I even got rid of the colostomy bag. But then I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, which sucked, but I was given a gift of seeing what is important in life… family, friends and occasional Fro Yo. I have met so many amazing people who I would have never had the chance to meet if it weren’t for PD and although I can’t have children now, I get to be the cool Aunt who lives by Disneyland. So yes, my life has been full of disappointments, but it has made me who I am. Now, everyday I find ways to give back to my community, help others, enjoy my family and laugh when I have a Parkinson’s moment. But most importantly, plan what I am going to wear for my 20th High School reunion when this super-fox will get to laugh at the overweight, materialistic, unhappy cheerleaders that made fun on me. Karma is a bitch.
Now I ask you my readers, is happiness a choice?