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Why I Choose Joy in Life With Chronic Illness

This world is full of so much uncertainty, and you’re bound to have your share of it sooner or later. It sounds pessimistic, but it’s only true.

In June of 2017 I got sick, and nobody knew why. The words “choose joy” became my saving grace, the two words I could always repeat to myself. They let me know that no matter what, it would be OK. I felt like I was losing control over everything. I was in the hospital for weeks with a condition I couldn’t explain to myself let alone to other people. I drifted away from friends, because doing normal stuff like going shopping or to a festival became increasingly difficult if not impossible. I quickly forgot how to walk on my own without the help of therapists, walkers, KT tape and wheelchairs. And most importantly I lost swimming. It may seem like just a sport to someone on the outside, but swimming was and still is everything that makes me happy. My best friends and teammates, the calm quiet of being submerged underwater and the satisfaction after a hard workout are all gone.

But what I didn’t see then is not everything is gone.

I can still choose joy.

Many people believe that happiness and joy are the same, but they’re more of cousins than twins. Happiness is a direct result of circumstances; it is situational. If you get a good grade on a test or have lunch with friends then nine times out of 10, you will be happy. Joy is reaching for the positive in every situation no matter how good or bad it may be. No, it’s not easy to focus on the good things, but once it is done half of the battle has been won. seek joy

There are a thousand things I lack control over (and probably always will): global warming, wars halfway across the world and even my own body. But positivity is a choice I have complete control over. Amidst everything I have gone through and continue to go through I have found a silver lining. And this doesn’t at all mean ignoring the challenges I face, it simply means embracing them and moving on.

This world moves pretty fast and there’s no time to get caught up in the things that will only bring us down.

Follow this journey on Ceara’s blog.

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Photo via jacoblund on Getty Images