What is Happiness? How Do You Get It?

Posted on September 20, 2011


Last week, I wrote a post about happiness – finding the happiness in diabetes.  Can one be happy knowing they are going to live with a chronic and sometimes challenging condition the rest of their lives?  Yes!  At least I hope you can at least try.  Just try.  That is what I do day in and day out.

Happiness is in all of us.  But sometimes (myself included), we loose sight of it and get caught up in the unhappiness of life and diabetes.  That is normal.  We are going to have down times. 

Sometimes it is easier being frustrated or sad than being happy.  Being happy can take work.

Wait a minute.  Work?  Hmmm….Should I have to work at happiness?  Or should it just come effortlessly to me?   No work required? 

That depends on you and the happiness you are trying to achieve.  Some happiness will just appear.  No effort required.  An example is when my daughters do something cute or give me a hug.  Pure joy.  Other moments of happiness like graduating from college took four years of discipline and dedication.  But I did it.  Pure joy again. Regardless of the effort and timing, it is all happiness.  And happiness adds up.  We all need happiness.

I started thinking about my life and living with diabetes.  While there have been moments of craziness and frustration and challenges; overall, diabetes has brought so many great “things” into my life.  “Things” I would not have without diabetes like friendships, learnings, discoveries, etc.

And I have worked hard (no, very hard) to keep my diabetes well controlled.  Controlling my diabetes instead of letting diabetes control me.  Some days require more work than others.  But not a day goes by where I can just push diabetes to the side and forget about it. 

Let me take that back.  I guess I can push diabetes to the side and forget about it, but the ramifications might not be desirable.   I have to continuously make choices about diabetes, my life,  and my happiness. 

Will I be happy today?  Do I have any control over my happiness?  Will my diabetes allow me to be happy? 

The list of questions can go on and on and on.  The more I thought about happiness and what it really means, the more I wanted to know.  Or at least try and figure out.  What was this really all about. 

Happiness.  Every dictionary has it’s own definitions.  Bliss.  Satisfaction.  Pleasure.  All positive stuff.  Stuff I want in my life.   And as I read through all the definitions, I quickly realized that we have to decide what  happiness means to us.  Each and every one is different.  We all have unique needs and wants and those will change even for us depending on the day, time, weather, situation, etc.  Nothing is cut in stone.  Meaning, we can change our lives at any given time.

Wow.  How powerful.  I can make choices that impact all areas of my life.  Some choices may be spontaneous.  Others decisions may be very thought out.  Some better than others.  But no matter what, I make the choices. 

So I did choose to have diabetes?  Not literally.  At age 4, I did not wish upon a star for diabetes.  Yet, I was chosen to receive diabetes.  And I have in turn chosen to respect it and live a great life as a diabetic.

No one else has that power.  The power to take charge of my life – diabetes included.  I am in charge.  Very empowering.  Liberating.   And why not choose to accept that challenge positively and create something good out of diabetes. Remember, the power to make choices.  

With that ability, I can decide how to make decisions that will make me happy.  Bringing happiness into my life.  For example, this morning, I ate a healthy breakfast of oatmeal.  Doing so, made me feel happy physically and mentally.  My body appreciated it, and my mind knew it was good for me.  Simple, but it made me happy.   

Right now, I am writing a new post.  Now, let me preface by saying normally I would be out running, and then I would write.  But it is a stormy morning out there.  Initially, I was bummed about not running, but once my fingers started tapping the keys, everything fell into place.  I was content.  Happy. 

Writing brings me happiness.  Something about sharing my story and thoughts and hopefully helping others is very rewarding to me.  A smile appears on my face.  In the moment, I receive joy from putting stories and thoughts on paper.  And later on when I hear your stories and input, another round of happiness appears.

In a few minutes, I will change out my insulin pump.  Today is the day.  While changing out my pump is not on my list of all time favorite things to do (I dislike the smell of insulin), I have to do it for my diabetes.  And when I am done changing her out, I feel good about getting that off my “to do list”.   Another wave of happiness. 

Is all this trivial stuff?  Is it really happiness? 

For me, it constitutes happiness.  Some chunks of happiness larger than others.  But that does not matter.  It all adds up to happiness.  Happiness is happiness.   

The bits and pieces of happy moments in our lives often get overlooked because we get so busy.  But when we slow down and really examine what we are doing and the decisions we are making (or not making), it becomes pretty clear how in control (or out of control) are lives truly are.

I want to add one more snippet about diabetes and happiness.  How do you turn what appears to be a chronic and debilitating condition into a bundle of joy and happiness?  You live your life (diabetes and all) with happiness and joy.  Even if your bloodsugar is 322 and you feel like crap, you make a correction (with insulin), try to figure out the root of the high bloodsugar, and you move on. 

That particular moment is not wonderful and cheerful, but you become thankful for having a blood machine that can precisely tell you what your blood sugar is at the moment.  You cherish the fact that insulin exists.  Without it, we would not be alive.  And you acknowledge that you are able to be in the moment.  You are here.   Feeling yucky.  But here.  Experiencing life. Diabetes just happens to be part of your life. 

And you keep going forward.  Taking the happiness you can find, and moving onto the next “thing”.  Not getting caught up in the negativity of a high blood sugar.  Acknowledging the high, treating it, and advancing. 

Moving onto the next round of happiness waiting for you.  It’s out there.  Trust and believe. 

Find happiness today.  Diabetes and all.  Enjoy.