Staying positive in life is hard. Staying positive while adjusting to being confined to a wheelchair can feel impossible at times. I am working on shifting my perspective and adopting a glass half full outlook on life and understanding my place in it. Here’s a few areas to work on when adopting a positive outlook.
1. Own your disability. Learn EVERYTHING you can about your disability. Don’t hesitate to get a 2nd or sometimes 3rd opinion for a complex diagnosis. Take time to read about your situation and keep up to date on new research. Most people find that when they are armed with knowledge, it makes it easier to deal with problems, setbacks and negative situations. Don’t get me wrong, it takes a moment to get into the head space of owning your disability. However, there is healing maintaining positivity. I realized I was tasked in life with having a disability, therefore I own it and take control of it. I make a point of sharing my story to all of those that are interested, as you never know how your story of perseverance may help someone else. Accept your new normal and realize the sky is the limit.
2. Surround yourself with like minded and similarly-abled people. Sometimes when you’re living with your disability you may feel alone, misunderstood or overlooked. When you surround yourself with people that are like you, you can identify with individuals who feel and notice your journey. The mutual sharing of experiences and gained knowledge in how others like you navigate in a world where the disabled are often an afterthought (or not thought of at all), keeps your perspective shifting in good ways. As much as I love my family and friends, I found having friends that are experiencing similar medical or mobility challenges are a great resource for advice and helps with feeling like you are not alone.
3. Don’t overthink anything. It’s good to plan for the future but be sure to be present in the now. Planning is fine but not to the detriment of living. Take time to smell the roses so to speak. Good interactions with people you meet and small events, like a baby laughing at you while you wait in line at the store, add to your sense of well-being. Staying positive is a full-time endeavor and collecting these little pieces of good vibes serves as fuel to keep your positivity motor running.
4. Advocate for yourself and others. It sometimes gets frustrating teaching others mindfulness, but let’s face it: there are those who don’t understand or don’t notice that a small amount of consideration goes a long, long way. Sure, it’s empowering to see places that are not accessible and working to get those issues fixed, but it also feels good to educate people to notice disabled persons that they may have overlooked before having a positive experience with you. I was always told that what you put into the world comes back to you in kind.
Every day is a great opportunity to emit and absorb the best parts of life, so you can deal with the bad. In this way, you learn to not only notice positivity but to seek it wherever you are in your journey.
About Merlisha Henderson: Merlisha lives in Arizona with her family. As a wife, mother and disability advocate in her community, she stays active and independent, working toward bringing equality and access to all. Click here to learn more about Merlisha.