By Milly Diericx | Contributor Dec. 14, 2016, at 6:00 a.m.
For many people, chronic illness is almost synonymous with hopelessness. Hopelessness causes depression, for life can lose its flavor, sense and purpose. It is imperative that we stop the negative train of thought that manifests as acute and ongoing depression. Mostly, we lose hope and feel depressed when we live in the past, reliving the memories of how we were before the illness, or the future, projecting catastrophic possibilities or bleak days ahead with the illness and all the prohibitions it prophesies. Here are a few things you can practice daily to combat this pervasive negative habit:
- Hope. Hope is the energy that gets you through bad situations; hope lets you see possibilities. It is a necessary ingredient in a meaningful life, and you have to find hope again after being diagnosed. A spiritual practice can be very healing, for it frames the whole experience in a coherent universe.
- Choice. You always have a choice, no matter the circumstance. Sometimes it is difficult to see, especially when feeling really ill, but there is always something you can choose, even if it is only how to react to what is happening. Ask yourself: How can this improve? What is it that I do have and can count on?
- Resilience and perseverance. Resilience is the capacity to come back to the original state. When you have a bad day and are unable to do anything, use the next good day you have to get back to what you were doing, to where you left off. Perseverance in attaining your goals will do the rest.
- Positive thinking. Or the power of positive thinking, as it has become commonly known. Always look for the positive side of the situation, even if it is small. Thinking positively is a habit you form, like all other habits, with practice and perseverance. Train your mind to see the positive in every situation; there is always something if you look hard enough.
- Gratitude. Finding something to be grateful for is one of the easiest – and at the same time, most profound – techniques you can practice. When you are truly grateful, there is no space for any negative emotion. Find something you truly appreciate, be grateful for it and let the feeling of gratitude permeate all your body. It immediately dissipates sadness and negative projections.
These five steps will help you live in the moment and make the best of it. In the end, you will have a string of the best possible moments in your day, and the perception of this positive recount of the days as they go by will become new neural pathways that see more the positive than the negative in life – making you a happier, more fulfilled person.