Finding Happiness in the Dark
by Liz Jansen
Finding happiness and peace of mind is easy when things are going well. Or when we’re riding our motorcycles. We feel joy, freedom, and even euphoria. A spiritual connection. Riding makes you feel better physically. Paul Pelland, a.k.a. Long Haul Paul, an advocate for Multiple Sclerosis (MS), who’s riding one million miles with MS for MS, once told me when he rides, he doesn’t have MS.
When life takes a turn, as it invariably does, it’s not so straightforward. Two weeks ago, I voiced my role as a healer in the post I’ve Been Keeping a Secret. Healing work is something I’ve been doing for most of my life but am now just giving it a name.
It was as if I sent out a signal saying I was stepping up for a new set of lessons. For at least a decade, I’ve dealt with a chronic condition that has been managed with medication, lifestyle changes, and holistic care. Early and prompt intervention addresses flare-ups. Somehow I missed the early signs and by the time I sought medical care last week, it had progressed to the point where I needed more aggressive intravenous treatment.
When you’re in pain and there’s a battle for control raging in your body, happiness fades into the shadows. That leaves fertile ground for fear to muscle in and gain the upper hand. Fear tries to distract you by creating anxiety and incessant chatter in your mind about all the things that can go wrong. For me, this struck right at my heart, wondering amongst other things, if this might temporarily curtail long-distance and out of country motorcycle travel.
Everything looks dark. I question whether I’m on the right path, yet intuitively I know for certain I am. My life looks so different than it did less than three years ago when I was hurtling across the prairies on a big dual-sport bike, headed (or so I thought) for South America. Although it’s a very different journey than I anticipated, it’s still my journey.
The dark thoughts recede once you begin to feel better, as I do now. Recognizing they’re only giving you one distorted side of the story helps put things in perspective. Preventing them from gaining the upper hand is an essential step in the healing process.
The only way for me to do that is by staying in the present, reminding myself life has its rough spots, and remaining consciously connected to my Higher Power. It creates the space for my body, with medical and spiritual intervention, to do its job. Expressing gratitude, silently or aloud, for gifts like the support of loved ones, readily available diagnostic tools, and outstanding medical care also helps heal. Not necessarily cure.
Finding happiness and peace of mind is harder when it’s dark. The reality doesn’t change but the stories you tell yourself about it, and thus the outcome, can.
What stories are you telling yourself?