When it comes to living a happy life in general, but especially with a chronic illness, it is crucial to focus on your mindset. Many people go through their days letting life happen to them. Allowing the circumstances of their life to rule their happiness and life outcome. However, it is important to realize that your happiness is completely in your control.
Do terrible circumstances arise in life? Yes.
Do we have any control of when and how life circumstances are thrown at us? No.
No matter what your circumstances are, no matter what cards you are dealt, you have the choice to see the positive. Something I have learned throughout my 12 years with IBD, is that I do not get to be in control of everything in my life, BUT I am always in control of myself (my mindset and actions). This does not mean that we should act like terrible things don’t suck and don’t make us upset. It is not about ignoring the circumstances of life, rather it is about learning to process them and move past them.
It can be easy to get stuck in the victim mentality, but in order to live a happy life it is important to push past this concept and make the CHOICE to be happy and to see the good in your life. Living with IBD has led to a lot of anxiety and stress, but something I have learned is that the majority of mental suffering can be fixed by switching your mindset and your perspective. Instead of looking at life through a lens of suffering and lack, look at it through a lens of abundance and joy. I truly believe that this is an extremely important factor in the happiness of everyone, but especially those with a chronic illness who don’t have as much control over what is going on in their body. By learning to reframe your mindset, you can move from a life of lack to a life of abundance.
Easier said than done? 100%.
But, doable? For sure.
How To Move From Lack To Abundance?
1. Regain Control & Make The Choice
Most things in our life are out of our control. But, for the very few things we can control, we need to keep them on track. Basically the only thing we have control over in our lives is our mindset and our actions. So, it is important to regain control and to stop letting life happen to you.
This comes with making a choice. At the end of the day, everything we do every day on earth is a choice. The choices we make form our life, so it is important to be consciously making those choices. Every day you have to wake up and choose to be happy. THAT is the key to happiness. There is no magic formula or magic pill that can make you happy. It has to come from within and it takes some effort to achieve.
2. Identify & Eliminate Limiting Beliefs
In order to make a mindset shift, it is important to first identify any unwanted thoughts or thought patterns that are holding you back to living a life of abundance. In order to identify these thoughts or limiting beliefs, it is important to take stock of your mind and get quiet with your thoughts.
There are a few things that you can do get this process going:
- Journaling: Take some time to really think of some of the tough moments in your life and what beliefs or thoughts this has left you with. This is an uncomfortable process, but it is an important one. I suggest giving yourself at least 30 minutes to an hour to do this exercise and to do it alone. Start by simply listing some of your past or current traumas and how this has affected your thoughts and actions.
- Taking Stock: This next practice takes a few days. This process is simply to get really curious about your thoughts and to write them down every time you think of something or do an action that could be holding you back. The point here is not to judge yourself, rather to get honest about what is going on in your life. Keep track of this in your phone, in a journal, or whatever works for you. But, try to do this practice for a minimum of 2-3 days.
Once these limiting beliefs and thoughts are identified, it is important to come up with a solution to eliminate them. It is important to remember that every solution to this will be slightly different to each individual based on what it is they have gone through. If you find that these practices and suggestions aren’t working, try to brainstorm some other solutions, or seek help from a counselor or therapist.
One approach you can use for when these negative thoughts/limiting beliefs pop into your head is as follows:
- Thought Stopping: When a repeated unwanted thought occurs, say “stop” in your mind
- Thought Replacement: Then replace the thought with a positive one by using a mantra like “I am in control,” “I choose positivity and love,” “This is not true, this is only in my mind,” or whatever resonates with you.
This process is all about trial and error, so be patient and take your time.
3. Focus on Your Language (Internally & Externally)
Once you have identified some of those limiting beliefs, it is important to look at how you speak to yourself and to others in your life. This is where the practice of thought-stopping comes in handy, but it is also important to focus on your language to others too.
If you are constantly using language that is negative and coming from a place of lack, you will remain there. Instead of engaging in the water-cooler complaints every day, take it upon yourself to talk about something positive, or simply say nothing at all. This will be difficult at first, but it is critical to focus on the energy you are putting out to change your mindset. This is something I am trying to always work on. We live in a world where it is easier to complain than to be positive, so don’t be too hard on yourself and try your best to reduce this habit as much as possible.
4. Trust In a Higher Power & Yourself
This step is fairly self-explanatory, but it truly is very important and easier said than done sometimes. Regardless of whether you are spiritual or not, it is important to trust in yourself and your strength. You have made it this far and have done okay, so what makes you believe you won’t be able to make it through moving forward?
If you are spiritual, lean into that and lean into your faith in your God. Remember to trust that all circumstances are happening FOR you and not against you, and trust that you can get through anything that is thrown at you.
5. Embrace Your “Misfortunes” & Take Advantage of Them
Embracing your life circumstances and accepting them (even if it hard to do so) is so important to live a happy life. It is not easy to embrace certain things in your life and it will take time to do so, but it is important that you do. Without this acceptance you will be bitter towards life and remain unhappy.
As much as possible, it is important to try to reframe and use unfortunate circumstances to your advantage. Learn and grow from these experiences, and teach others about what you learned. Instead of running from your problems, find ways you can take advantage of them. I am sure you have heard plenty of stories of people time and time again who have started the multi-million dollar company from the poorest moment in their life, or discovered their passion after a terrible diagnosis. Obviously, these are extreme examples, but try to dig deep into some of these difficult situations, circumstances, or “misfortunes” and find a way to make them benefit you.
This is part of the reason why I started my blog, Gutsy Feeling, in the first place. I wanted to connect with others, but also share my experiences with others. This is a prime example of flipping my “misfortunate” diagnosis of IBD and instead of running away from it, embracing it.
6. Have a Plan Of Action For Hard Moments
As much as I would love to believe that if you follow all these steps you will never experience tough times again, I know this is not the case. Hard moments will arise, unforeseen circumstances will take place, and bad news will come your way. So, in order to really take advantage of the hard mindset work you are doing, you need to have a plan of action for when these difficult moments happen. This plan of action is almost like an emergency relief plan. This could include a lot of different things, but it needs to be easily accessible when disaster strikes. I suggest keeping a lot of this on your phone or in a folder nearby to you at work/home.
This plan could include things like:
- A few lists:
- A list of your mindset shifts, affirmations, and/or inspiring quotes to reframe and refocus your mindset.
- A list of your identified limiting beliefs and elimination strategy.
- A list of your support system (this may seem silly but during big or small emergencies we often forget who to lean on)
- Time for processing the situation. You can choose to have a rough estimate for the time allotted for processing. Even if you don’t stick to this, it could be a good reminder that you should not be dwelling on things forever. But obviously, depending on the circumstances and severity of the event, this will change. So, be patient with yourself and give yourself love and grace.
- Time for rest and time offline. After a difficult event, small or big, it is important to allow yourself time to rest and some time to unplug from social media. This may be just for one night, or for a few weeks. Whatever feels right to you, do it. Take time and space for healing, resting, and recharging.
- A happiness toolkit. This will look different for everyone, but the whole premise of this toolkit is to have a box of things that make you happy, or a list for you to refer back to. Some things on my happiness list include, a warm cup of lavender tea, lavender essential oils, walking my dog in nature, binging my favorite comedy show, etc. This list or box is meant to be simple things that make you happy and allow your mind to indulge in simple pleasures while recovering from a difficult moment.
Overall, I hope that these 6 steps gave you some inspiration to help you move from a place of lack to a place of abundance. This is not easy mindset work, and it will take time. But I believe that it is worth the time and effort for the gain in clarity and happiness that will come your way. Mindset is so important for a happy life, so take the time to really make it right for you.