Episode 074 – Redefining happiness with a chronic illness

Episode 074 - Redefining happiness with a chronic illness

Welcome to episode 074 of the podcast! It’s great to see you.

This week I’m talking about redefining happiness, on your terms.

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Transcript of episode

Hello, I’m your host Lorraine Stone and this week I’m talking about redefining happiness, on your terms.

When you’re diagnosed with a chronic illness you quickly learn what lockdown taught the world – that the usual places to find happiness can pretty much disappear and then what do you have? Holidays, social gatherings, the things people typically look forward to, vanished. This is a big problem when you look for happiness outside of yourselves. When external sources are taken away, and you don’t know how to find happiness for yourself, you can soon become depressed.

Growing up, as an introvert, I was very content on my own. Still am. Mum refers to it as being able to entertain myself. We had a lot of power cuts when I was little, and when back in school my friends would complain about how bored they had been, but I had just curled up with a book.

As we grow and take on more and more responsibilities, taking time for ourselves can seem selfish, and almost like a waste of time when there’s so many things to do on the list. I have always said that you get warning signs when you need to slow down and they get bigger and bigger until you pay attention to them. In my case, it was my ME diagnosis.

To redefine happiness sooner rather than later, my tips are:
1. Balance need with want. 

Things that have given my life meaning are finishing marathons when I was told I’ll never run again. Choosing myself over fear to leave a toxic marriage, or a few just not for me relationships and friendships. Both those things are hard. Both my marathons were autumn ones, and I swore I would never again run one that involved having to train on ridiculously hot days. I can live with getting soaked in winter and coming home to a hot bath and a tasty lunch out of the slow cooker. It’s about finding things that you like to do, to go alongside with the things you need to do. Not really a fan of housework, but when you can make it more enjoyable, it becomes easier.

2. Stretch your mind. 

As a mental muscle, you can teach your mind to be open to viewing happiness as a skill, as something you can learn. Just as you’d create habits for fitting in watching your favourite tv show, you can create habits to fit in making happiness a skill you can learn.

3. Live life on your terms. 

The core aspect of my SHIFT to alignment programme is redefining life on your terms. A chronic illness throws your life and routine out of whack. We know this. It’s not one and done. It’s several transitions and changes and the emotions that come along with them. I spent a long time not telling people I was sick unless I really had to because I didn’t want to be labelled that way. Once I was able to define who I am within my life alongside the illness, finding validation internally, and not needing it externally, it became so much easier to share who I am.

4. Let it go, literally. 

And so sorry if you now have that paying in your head like I do… When I was really poorly, I would spend money to make myself feel better. I was already in debt because I took on my ex-husbands so that I had to find a bit less money to buy him out of the house, and when I cleared it I couldn’t seem to readjust my base line of having extra money available and still overspent. I am all about the why behind the what. Whenever I buy anything now, I have a quick thought process of why I’m buying it. I do the same with food when I’m about to eat it to make sure it’s not an emotional reason. Because of this, I have less stuff, and therefore less clutter. And that makes a huge difference. There’s still stuff I’m getting rid of now, mainly because James and I are trying to combine houses. I had a major wardrobe clear out over the weekend. Anything that I owned when I was with my ex-husband, or reminded me of pre-op times when I could still have hope I might get pregnant, or anything that was now too big for me is sitting there waiting to go to the local charity shop. Even if they can’t sell it, they can sell it as rags, so they still get money for the tatty stuff. Good enough for me. If you’ve not yet heard of Marie Kondo, give her a Google or a Netflix, and see what you think about stuff and clutter around your home after.

5. From positive to flexibility. 

Positivity becomes toxic when you begin to believe that negative emotions are a bad thing, and that you try to seek happiness all the time. Negative emotions are there to help us, to teach us, to warn us. We need them. Instead, flexibility allows you to handle whatever may come along. The more flexible, the less likely to suffer anxiety and depression. It’s not about if the glass is half full or half empty, but how the feelings about it affect you.

When you’re able to be intentional in one area of your life, it will start to creep into the others.

If you’d like to know more on how to redefine your life on your terms, reach out to me to see if my SHIFT to alignment coaching programme is a fit for you.  You can book a free introductory call via my Instagram link in my bio.  Or, send me an email or you can find me on Instagram, I’ve put a link to both in the shownotes. I can’t wait to see your journey.

Thanks for listening, and remember – you are worth it, and you get to choose.

Have a lovely day.