Local Reading

The Pursuit of Happiness

This year has got to be the worst I’ve ever endured.

So far this year (yes, just “so far”, the year’s not over and I doubt it’ll change course any time soon):

I broke my nose, tore tendons in both ankles, had more than 3 months of non-stop respiratory virus and sinus infections which lead to a cracked rib and that lead to a pinched nerve and now constant pain.

My aunt died. My favourite aunt was diagnosed with breast cancer. My son is in chronic pain and we found out there’s nothing we can do about it.

There were all the usual life stressors, a new role at work, raising small children, you know all the things.

I probably would be ok if that is where the list ends.

But on the 23rd of March my brother lost his battle with his demons and left us.

I can’t even.

I don’t know how to breathe without him.

People tell me it’ll get better but it hurts just as much now, if not more. Every event he’s not at, every phone call we don’t have, every stupid joke I can’t tell him.

If God wasn’t going to stop the pain of loss, couldn’t He at least have given me a break from any of the rest of it? I’ve told God exactly where He can go so many times this year. Screamed at Him for abandoning me. Begged Him to make it easier.

But it doesn’t get easier.

I’m not sure it’s meant to.

But my attitude can. Gah. That feels like such a cliché doesn’t it? Still, it’s true. When I think about my brother I just want to stay in this place. This dark and hopeless night. But that’s not healthy.

Don’t get me wrong, there is 100% a need to feel and process all the negative emotions. I can’t put my brother’s death in a little box and just walk away. That’s not healthy either.

There’s this technique used mostly with toddlers that are crying -distraction. Honestly, it’s just as useful for adults. What has your attention has power over you.

If you want to BE happy you have to FOCUS on happy. Why is it easier said than done?

Earlier this year I learnt the benefits of choosing to take time to be thankful. Science is showing that purposely being grateful has an impact on how your brain processes each day and how resilient you are to trauma.

Once you get started, the list of things to be thankful for is usually quite long. Start with what’s right in front of you and slowly circle out further away.

I’m thankful that my family is here, we have a house, fresh air, clean water, hot showers, nail polish, friends, flowers, food (chocolate!!)…

See what I mean? I could keep going.

I started writing with tears falling – no cascading – down my face but I was forced to think of something I am thankful for so I could tell you. That stopped the tears enough that I could smile.

I’m still in a world of physical, mental and emotional pain and it regularly wins the battle for my mood. But I won’t let it win the war for my life.

Now it’s your turn. What are you thankful for?

Kit Densley is still learning to be a wife and mum. She rarely sits still, loves a cuppa and a chat and when she grows up she’d like to drive a Maserati.

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