Happiness…against the odds

Happiness…against the odds

I recently heard from a Living Single reader who has so much stacked against her, I don’t know how she gets up in the morning. She asked me for suggestions for how to be happy under her difficult circumstances (which I’ll tell you about shortly). I was reluctant to take this on for two reasons. First, given the same challenges, I don’t think I could cope nearly as well as she already has. Second, although I’ve read and critiqued boatloads of studies about marital status and happiness, I’m not a happiness researcher. That’s not my area of expertise, so I’m not as well-versed as I’d like to be on suggestions that follow from scientific research. So, I’ll offer a few thoughts, then I’ll see if I can persuade some of the happiness experts who already blog here at Psych Today to take on this challenge. Readers, too: Please feel free to offer your insights.

The woman I’ll call Athena (to me, a name that suggests strength and grace) has been almost entirely housebound for about 13 years. I say “almost” because she can get out for a walk for about 10 minutes each day, and she is proud that she does so conscientiously. A series of daunting medical problems, including cancer and some neurological disorders, has left her exhausted, in constant pain, and with no memory of her life before her illnesses. (She has been told by others that she was successful at work and in her personal relationships.) What’s more, she experiences constant intense hunger and thirst. Despite that, she is also proud that she does not eat junk food.

Athena appreciates the potential to find community online, but her chronic fatigue limits the time she can spend on the computer. Her friends from before her illnesses have mostly moved on; they rarely visit or return her calls or emails.

Here’s Athena’s question:

“How can someone like me be happy with few friends and little contact with the ones I have?”

Want to read more about finding happiness against all odds from Psychology Today? Then just click here