I read an article here entitled “How Chronic Pain made me happier” and I have to admit I think I gagged a little bit when I read it. I’m a little skeptical about how much pain this guy is really in since he thinks rollerblading, running 5K races, and going to bed at 1 am are no big deal, but the article did make me think, has chronic pain made me a happier person?
At first my answer was definitely not. I mean I was in so much pain the other day I started crying when I was trying to clean up a glass bowl that I broke. The task seemed insurmountable at the time and my hands were shaking and were so swollen I barely had the dexterity to move them, much less pick up glass. That must mean that chronic illness has made me miserable, right? I mean who bursts into tears when they break a bowl? Certainly not a happy person.
As I contemplated the idea more though I realized that while my tolerance level for small mishaps is much less then it used to be and I get more overwhelmed by small things, overall I am a happier and more significantly,a better person than I used to be. Yes I may burst into tears at random moments, but as a I am much more in sync with who I am and what is important to me. I used to live from day to day only focusing on the things that were immediately in front of me, I didn’t think as much about what life was about and what I wanted from it. I also didn’t use to think about other people very much, I was pretty self absorbed. Chronic pain has given me a whole lot of understanding and patience. I am so much more understanding of other people and their failings, as well as my own. I’ve also learned to look beyond the difficult things happening to enjoy the small things that I was too busy to notice before. I’ve just gained a better perspective about what life is about and so even though my body is miserable and I am frustrated with the limitations that causes, I am a more peaceful person than I used to be.
Of course, don’t get me wrong, if I could go back to being healthy I would. Sometimes I want to shout at the sky “OK, I’ve learned my lesson, I’m a much better person now, can I have my body back?” If only it worked like that.