A Lesson in Perspective and Acceptance

Is the glass half full or half empty? In one’s mind, it may be either, depending on whether they bend towards a more optimistic or pessimistic view of the world. But in reality, it is both. Admitting this realist perspective offers an opportunity to cultivate acceptance, which can then lead to happiness!

69_The In-Joke

There was a perfect storm of unpleasant events about a week ago. Allergy season brought on a sneeze-fest, which triggered intense spasms in my back, that then wound up my muscles up in a knot most sailors would be envious of. The back tension spread to the neck and head, eventually bringing on a bout of recurrent migraines, complete with the ice pick stabs, aura, and symptoms of trigeminal neuralgia. After waking up in the middle of one of the worst attacks of the series, I painted a dream image titled “No End in Sight.”

I will not lie, I intended it to be every bit as depressing as the title sounds. At the time, the pain felt relentless. By this time, I had been in a flare more days these past few months than I have been “normal.” I tried to encapsulate complicated feelings of hope and hopelessness, pain and exhaustion, the desire to keep trudging and the desire to just stop, all at once, in the painting below.

Abstract_11_No End in Sight
No End in Sight (a journey through time)

And yet, a friend, one far better versed in chronic pain than myself, planted an idea in my head that helped me see this image differently. She pointed out how his burden gets lighter with time!

That sprouted a thought in my mind: perhaps he is not giving up after all! Perhaps his perspective has just shifted, and he is simply accepting that he is stuck in the desert for the moment, that there is no use fighting it, so he might as well accept his current situation. As he tries to find peace within himself (note the hermit look by the end), even under the less-than-stellar circumstances, his “burden” is made lighter.

Though this might seem like a silly optimist’s game of what-do-you-see-in-the-picture, ultimately, perspective is all that matters. I felt it acutely on the 4th day of my recurrent migraines, when I felt momentarily delighted to wake up with my regular all-over fibro pains! This meant that my headache intensity had now lowered enough for me to feel pain elsewhere on the body! Of course, that delight was short-lived once the spasms started reasserting themselves, and another migraine attack followed shortly thereafter. But in that bizarre moment when I was happy about fibro pain, I learned an important lesson in how much our perspective on a situation determines our response to it, much more so than the situation itself.

I do not believe that one needs to be an optimist to find happiness in tough situations; one only needs to be a realist. If you are wondering if the glass is half empty or half full, I would argue that it is both! No situation is all good or all bad (despite chronic illnesses tending towards the latter). As an example, I recognized that because of the rest that my unwelcome migraine forced on me, I am in less pain overall (for most of the day) than I have been in months! Being able to see both the good and the bad of fibromyalgia and its associated maladies have helped me accept things for what they are. And with acceptance comes some measure of inner peace, which then translates to happiness.

I have written in the past about what acceptance means to me on a practical level, but not much about what acceptance, as a concept, might mean (or what it might not!). And though I have implied the role of “acceptance” in finding happiness with a chronic illness, it doesn’t much help those still in search of either. So I have decided to do a series of posts after this one, talking a little about what acceptance means from my perspective; how it can lead to happiness (or at least, less frustration); and finally, some of the ways by which I think I was able to achieve that state of mental stability. I hope that my insights can reach somebody still in search of these ideas, and that they may spark thoughts in their minds that lead to their own personal definition of acceptance and happiness!




Part I: A Lesson in Perspective and Acceptance
Part II: What is “Acceptance”?
Part III: How Acceptance can lead to Happiness
Part IV (A): Seeking a State of Acceptance 
Part IV (B): Fighting the Denial of a Chronic Illness


On Acceptance and Healing
What does it mean to be chronically ill and happy?

6 thoughts on “A Lesson in Perspective and Acceptance

  1. What an insult to have fibro & then migraines on top of it! I started getting one today. Then took my “big guns”, RX
    Sumatripan & it knocked it out in a couple of hours. If you don’t have a prescription for it, get one. I’ts been a lifesaver for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It certainly is very aggravating Alanna, and I am so sorry that you are starting one too! 😦 I used to get bad side-effects from sumatriptan, so I take naratriptan now. This time, though, it was only marginally effective. Basically I had to take tramadol, which dulled it down a bit, and then wait it out. It’s on the upswing now, I think, thankfully! I hope the abortives are successful in knocking yours out and keeping it away. Take care!! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  2. You know something, this post reminded me of a few months ago when my right side and lower back KILLED me for almost an entire month. I couldn’t sit, lay down, ride in the car or barely walk without being in miserable pain. Then one morning, it wasn’t as bad…and continued to get better…until it was gone! And like you, I noticed my normal fibro pain and was relieved. Great post, thank you for sharing this!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh Mer, that sounds miserable, what you had to go through. 😦 But isn’t it interesting how sometimes things get just so much worse enough that we are glad to have back the thing that we bitch about day in and day out (aka, fibro)? 😛
      I am truly glad that the post resonated with you, and equally glad that I am not the only one who felt this way. ❤


  3. Sorry to hear about how much pain you have been in. Allergies can trigger one thing and lead to another. With me, when my sinuses get irritated and I start sneezing, sometimes that put me more at risk of colds.

    I like it when you say that we don’t have to always be positive but more of a realist. Facing reality and the facts forces us to admit what’s going on and so we get on right away to trying to make things better. Recently I read a phrase that went along the lines, ‘Don’t be greatful for a glass half full or half empty. Just be greatful you have a glass’. Sometimes we have to appreciate of what we have and what we can do – and often that’s living in the moment and accepting things as they are and working from there.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Mabel! I know what you mean about the colds. I have had to be careful of that during “sneezing season” because of my asthma too. I hope the current year is treating you well so far.

      I remember seeing that too – about being grateful for having a glass! And it makes a lot of sense really. Be grateful you have a glass, which gives you some ability to work around the fullness of it. And that is actually one of the top things about acceptance for me (more on that in the next post 🙂 ), that it puts you in problem-solving mode instead of self-pity mode, so you can work around your problems. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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