Wheelchair happiness, when you’ve just become wheelchair dependent, might seem like the ultimate contradiction.
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You may think, how can I ever be happy when my entire life has just fallen to pieces? When my independence has been taken from me, and I’ll never be able to walk again?
I totally understand. Between the pain, the sense of loss, and all those uncertainties eating away at you it can be incredibly hard to move forward. I’ve been there, too.
The good news is, true happiness is 100% within your reach by simply adjusting your perspective.
In this post, I’ll define what wheelchair happiness is, and provide 3 simple strategies to help you get back on your feet—pun totally intended. I hope that this will give you a roadmap so you can get started on your journey towards a rich, fulfilling and happy life from the seat of your wheelchair.
What is the Perfect Recipe for Wheelchair Happiness?
DEFINITION Wheelchair happiness is the state of contentment, fulfilment, and well-being experienced by wheelchair users.
In other words:
Your disability does not determine your happiness. You can still lead a rich and rewarding life, full of joy, adventure and pretty much anything else you want from life. With acceptance of self and circumstance, a positive mindset, and the willpower to push through the hard times, you’ll be well on your way towards a newfound happiness.
As an added benefit you will discover that happiness is contagious. You’ll be spreading your joy to others and this alone will make your world a better place.
Ingredient 1: Acceptance of Self and Circumstance
DEFINITION Acceptance of self and circumstance is the art of accepting yourself and your circumstances unconditionally.
This is crucial because if you cannot accept yourself and your circumstances—wheelchair and all—you will never be able to achieve true happiness.
Many new wheelchair users make this one mistake: they see their wheelchair as an obstacle to happiness and think they can only ever find happiness if and when they will be able to walk again. This is never going to work because even if they found that miracle cure, they made their happiness dependent on external factors. Factors they have zero control over.
Is it any wonder they end up disappointed with themselves and with life in general?
The key to acceptance is to focus on the positives instead of fixating on the negatives.
To get started here, you could list just 5 good things the wheelchair has brought into your life. Honestly, there are many positives to being a wheelchair user. Look for them. And keep adding to your list.
Ingredient 2: Positive Mindset
DEFINITION A positive mindset is the mental and emotional attitude that focuses on optimism, hope, and constructive thinking. It doesn’t mean ignoring or suppressing negative feelings, but rather acknowledging them and focusing on solutions.
So, you’ve accepted that you are now a permanent wheelchair user. You’ve even listed about half a million positives about your life in a wheelchair, but still this elusive thing called happiness keeps slipping through your fingers all the time.
That’s where a positive mindset comes into play.
Without this, you can read and reread your list of positives till your eyes bleed and still not feel like your life is worth living at all.
Thankfully, you can develop a positive mindset, and that might be easier than you think.
Here are some steps you can take to cultivate positive thinking.
- Adopt a confident posture
- Maintain a positive outlook even in challenging situations
- Let positive words shape your thinking
- Focus on the good (no pity parties allowed)
- Surround yourself with joy and avoid toxic environments
- Find a good outlet for your emotions (sport, art, nature…)
- Take care of your physical health
Watch this video for a more detailed explanation
Ingredient 3: Willpower
DEFINITION Willpower is the ability to control your thoughts and behaviour in order to achieve long-term goals.
This is actually the most important component of the three, because without it you will not be able to keep up with the first two in the long run. Sure, you may start listing some positives, and you may start building a more positive mindset, but that requires steady work and you won’t see any instant results.
It takes time to adapt to your new life. Being a wheelchair user isn’t always fun, and you will face setbacks no matter what. I know, because it happens to me, too.
Sometimes I really just want to be able to go for a long walk on the beach, and it hurts that I can’t do it. That this is forever beyond my reach. But I can still choose to not let that spoil my day. I can feel sorry for myself for a couple of minutes and then will myself to move on. Because life’s too short to be wasted on being sad and miserable.
If, at this moment you lack willpower, don’t worry. This, too, is something you can train. And, again, it’s not going to work overnight, but consistent practice will yield results.
Training your willpower is like training your muscles. These steps can help you train your will:
- Start small
- Set realistic goals
- Use your imagination
- Practise daily
Your Perfect Recipe for Wheelchair Happiness
There you have it! The 3 ingredients of your perfect recipe for wheelchair happiness.
It may sound like a lot, but as with most things: practice makes perfect. Just focus on the good things in your life. This will help you adopt a positive mindset and the willpower that will ultimately bring you the happiness you deserve.
What’s next? Download “Happy Thoughts for Wheelchair Users”
If you need help getting started, my feelgood pack “Happy thoughts for wheelchair users” will help you look on the bright side of wheelchair life so you can find your way back to happiness.