• Joni Ganguzza

Finding Happiness Within

Hey Sister friend drinking that glass of wine over there. Yep you. I know. It has been a long day today. Maybe it is a stressful job or marriage. Maybe you feel like nobody appreciates how much you give of yourself whether it is your boss, children, husband, friends or your PTO friends. Maybe you are just going through a terrible illness with you or a loved one, believe me, I understand. But put down that Cabernet or the pint of ice cream or the vodka or the girl scout cookies or whatever vice you are using to dull the pain. There is a better way.

First, open your eyes and realize, the only person that is in charge of your happiness is you. But I know, I know you already know that. You've been told that 1000 times. Practice self care, exercise, meditate, do yoga, drink enough water in your hydroflask so you are in the bathroom hourly avoiding any negative confrontations (although I do legit love my hydroflask for giving me ice cold water all day), put down your phone, but wait, pick up that phone and arrange some time with your girl friends, eat healthy, but indulge every once and a while, don't over do it, but still be a present mom and wife, "it's just a bad day", "it's just a bad job", "we are just going through a rough patch". There's no wonder why so many people can't sleep and don't give their bodies the right nutrition and supplements. So many goals and expectations. Nobody can do all these things perfectly at once. Nobody.

Here's the truth, life is hard sometimes. If you really think about it, pain, sadness are the yin and yang to happiness and joy. For me, dealing with autoimmune encephalitis and literally writing this while hospitalized for the fourth time in four months for a relapse that could have been prevented if insurance would have approved outpatient infusions, I can still find happiness and joy. Why? Although the human brain fixates on the negative because we naturally want to avoid fear and pain, we can retrain our brains because there is always, always something to be grateful for and to help make the negative things in life less overwhelming. Here is my meditation that gets me through the day every day.

First, toss on some nice instrumental, binaural beats, nature music, jazz or whatever music can get your into your head on your Alexa. ("Hey Alexa, girl play me some binaural beats") Yes, she will do that for you without complaining or asking for more from you. Isn't Alexa a great sister wife to have? Then here is my meditation that quite literally sustained me the last 4 months:

  • Take several deep breaths in and out. In for 6 seconds, hold for 3 seconds, out through your mouth over 6 seconds.

  • Next, think of something you are grateful for today. It can be anything. It could be a warm breeze, a pretty flower, a stranger holding the door open, a friend on Facebook or Instagram that always comments nice things on your post. For me, with these IVIG and chemotherapy infusions I get horrible joint pain so today, my heating pad is my thing.

  • Now really, really focus on that thing you are grateful for today. Recreate the scene. What was the temperature? What were you wearing? What did it sound like? Who were you with when it happened? When was it? How did you feel inside at that moment? Really sit here and linger for a minute or two until you are really there in your mind. For me, I'm imagining the warmth, heat and softness of my heating pad. I can feel it soothing my joints and calming my anxiety about my health.

  • Now, think of the thing that is bothering you most right now. What is causing you to lose sleep? What is the thing that is really, really getting under your skin?

  • Now put both images in your mind, the positive one and the negative one. Except in your mind push that negative image to the back and make it 20% the size of the positive image. Linger here. Let that positive image really overpower the negative.

  • Now, take several more deep breaths and come out of your meditation.

This takes me about 5 minutes and maybe the first time for you, it didn't work. That's okay. Maybe you just couldn't find something at this moment to be grateful for today. That's okay. The hope from this exercise is that if you do it everyday, even a couple times a day, you soon will be able to pick out the positive parts of your life and not let the negative parts over rule your thought process.


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