Reasons to be cheerful

You gotta find them

SmileyCultivating a happy heart is good practice but not easy. Especially in sickness or trouble. I suggest trying (almost) everything. Here’s a partial list. Probably you’ll hit on something that will work eventually.

  1. Remember God has carried you before–squalling, wriggling–through many long nights. I don’t think he’ll drop you now.
  2. Try thanking him for his goodness.
  3. You might want to shout and scream, especially if no-one is about. I’m sorry to say I have sworn at God and banged my fist on the table numerous times. I think it’s OK doing this, not least because you feel a bit silly afterwards. God isn’t that bad and it’s just possible you are having a tantrum.
  4. Think of random good things that will probably come round again. After my coma my limbs didn’t work properly and so sometimes I fell over in the street. Usually it was just me and the dog, and the dog hadn’t read any of the right books and wasn’t much use. One time (I’m not sure I’m remembering this quite right but I’ll carry on) chin on curb, working out how to get up again, and not happy,  I recalled how my wife had discussed getting a convertible Mini next time we changed our car. It helped. We never did get the convertible Mini. But the main part of that thought– that one day I would be well again and she and I would buzz around and do stuff– was true and did the trick.
  5. Just decide to endure this time and forget the self-talk. Man up. Most things pass.
  6. Take a holiday from your sorrow. This is easier with longer-lasting things (stress, bereavement) than with the short-term (coughing up blood, say). By this I mean just go away and do something you enjoy. Watch a movie, go to work, go shopping. The pain will be waiting for you when you get back, but you may as well ease your stress levels for a bit.
  7. Remember there are people worse off than you. This is a cliche but done seriously, works sometimes.
  8. Remember all those sick, disabled people who nevertheless achieved great things. Lord Nelson, for example, constantly sick and forever losing bits, but still did stuff. Your illness may have meant cancelling cherished opportunities, but it’s not over for you yet. Not while you have light in your eyes.
  9. I think of some of my relatives. One grandad was gassed when scarcely out of boyhood. His dad was bed-bound with gangrene. Yet they lived good lives. My relatives. The shame of not fighting the demons like they did!
  10. Pray for people. Good in itself, it may also help remind you that not everything is about you and your problems.
  11. Pray for those caring for you. See the lines on their faces. That’s you causing those, in all their love for you. You’re lucky to be loved like that.
  12. Look through the cards and letters you’ve received, if you’ve received any. You matter to these people. They mind about you.
  13. Read some psalms and hang onto whatever you can find there that helps.
  14. Go for walks in your head. One terrible night in hospital I walked round Buttermere (a beautiful patch of water in the English Lake District) in my memory, a walk I know well, trying to make it last as long as possible and to recollect every part.
  15. Eat something, preferably something bad for you. In the Intensive Care ward at Papworth Hospital (a heart hospital) I once had a full English breakfast – the wise hospital itself served it.
  16. Faith, hope, and love, not as abstract principles but invested in God and people you love, really are greater than death and any loss. They can be like turning a boiler on in a freezing house.
  17. Treat yourself. That book you love? Get stuck in. If you’re as sick as you feel, this might be your last chance anyway.
  18. Work, even if only  a little. Do what you were made for. Feel the buzz.
  19. Think of your loved ones, stop moping, and fight for the chance to love them again.
  20. Say to yourself, ‘this light and momentary affliction is not worth comparing to the glory that will be revealed in us.’  Plenty of other scriptures are in there; find them.
  21. Read or remember some old hymns. Those people had learnt how to turn sorrow into song.
  22. I have been injected with heroin on a couple of occasions. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this, but it came in handy once when they were inserting a catheter into you-know-where.

 

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