A Window Into Happiness

I read a beautiful article a few days ago on Crafts, Chronic Illness and Adulting about how happiness is a state of being, and it is our choice to make every day (as much as we can) to seek that happiness within ourselves. I have ruminated much about that elusive state of happiness before, and couldn’t agree more with that attitude.

I feel like happiness is a flame that is burning within us. Sometimes the flame dwindles, gets buried, becomes hard to reach, as daily frustrations take over our minds. It can be especially hard to deal with the everyday when one is also fighting a chronic illness. But in a moment of quiet, it is possible to find that little candle of happiness still burning, underneath all of the tears of anger, sorrow and frustration.

Depression, on the other hand, is the absence of that flame. You can push yourself, just like you push anyway with the pain and fatigue, to do your everyday tasks. You can cover it up with laughs, alcohol, drugs, music, company, whatever you think might make you happy. But really, all of it is to cover up the knowledge that that flame is gone.

I became acutely aware of that as I had to come off some nerve pain medication rather suddenly. The burning in my arms, trigger points, and spinal cord became more insistent, along with my other FM-related woes – but that was expected. What was a little unexpected (and perhaps stupidly so) was the effect it had on my mental health. I felt a return of my depression and anxiety like I haven’t felt in a decade.

Then funnily enough, I saw the light (again) on one of my absolute worst days. My muscle spasms were so bad in my upper back that I was largely immobilized from neck up, and I could only move my right arm with intense stabs of pain with each movement. Yet, I had promised to bring my friend’s daughter to the circus, and I did not want to cancel on an 8-year-old. So I doused myself in every pain relief method at my disposal, and I went.

Despite all my pain, the joy that emanated from the child at her first circus took precedence over all my misery. I feel like she not only stopped me that day from delving deeper into the hole that I was in, but she actually pulled me a little bit out of it!

That night was one of the worst nights I ever spent. I was practically paralyzed from the pain, and the only reason I did not go to the emergency room is because it would have caused me more pain to get there than just languish in bed.

Silver Lining_framed
The Silver Linings (5X7, oil on canvas)

And yet, that night I was able to find a little bit of the happiness spark, like the flickers of light from a flint, as if a caveman was trying to start a fire. It was like the first dim light that touches the earth after the darkest part of the night. As if from the ashes, a phoenix was trying to emerge!

That flame then grew stronger a day or so later.

I had spent another night in intense pain, so much so, that my husband said I moaned aloud in my sleep anytime he turned, or even touched the bed. He fed me a pain pill, and then spent the rest of the night on the couch to minimize my discomfort. I did not learn of this until the morning, and was filled with so much gratitude when I did.

As I learned that day, gratitude is a like a breath of air on a little spark, a little blow of oxygen that can stoke the happiness flame, and help it realize its potential as a bright source of light.

Although you don’t need much to be happy, on the darkest of days, it helps to remind yourself of all that you do have to be happy about.

I have much to be happy about. I have a husband who is made of the stuff of dreams, I finally have access to my nerve pain medicine again, my pain is slowly getting better (progressively fewer screams have been heard by my neighbors over the last couple of days), and I have a very understanding doctor. Not to mention the friend who trusts me with her children, on whom I can shower my adoration as if they were my grandchildren, and with whom I can connect and find tender joy.

Yes, I also have many challenges that I am going through right now, but I have a lot more to be grateful for. To be happy for.

So today, now that I have the choice, I will try to focus on the silver linings when I look at the clouds from my window. And by doing so, I hope that window opens into another dimension, one where the flame of happiness continually glows bright within me.




Each painting has a story, one that I strive to tell here. Since many of them have to do with my journey with fibromyalgia, 20% of all yearly sales income from my paintings will go to the American Fibromyalgia Syndrome Association (AFSA), who fund research into this poorly understood condition. If the paintings and/or the cause touch your heart, as they do mine, please feel free to contact me through my Facebook page for more information. Thank you for accompanying me on this journey!

9 thoughts on “A Window Into Happiness

    1. Absolutely! One of the things I realized about myself is that helping other always made me happy, and if I care enough about the person or the cause, I can find my own happiness in theirs. So I am really counting that to help me through not only chronic pain, but also my current level of uncertainty regarding where my future is headed. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  1. This is such a brave post to share, and it is so kind of you to take an 8 year-old out despite how much pain you were in. It is also so admirable to hear you saw a spark when you were in so much pain the following nights. I love how you say that your darkest days reminds you of what you can do to make yourself happy. To me, being happy is found in the smallest of actions, like making someone laugh, your husband making you feel better, having something to eat, having a bed to sleep in…and I could go on and on 🙂

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    1. So true! Happiness really is in the smallest of things. 🙂 Thank you for recognizing how brave this was of me to share, I will admit I was proud of myself for writing it… and then leaving it alone. I felt ashamed about complaining about my condition or that I may be painting myself in better light than I truly am. And I almost went back and removed a lot of the ugly truth. But this post was from the heart, so it took some courage but I left it alone. You don’t know how much I appreciate that you could see through that! Sending so much love your way Mabel! Wish you the best, always! ❤


      1. ‘complaining about my condition’ The truth needs to be told, and so glad the hard parts stuck. Someone else might be going through the same thing, or they might in the future. Always good to say it is as it is – then we acknowledge who we are and learn to move on ❤

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        1. That is so true!! And I completely agree. One of the main reasons I started this blog was so we would not feel so alone in our struggles, that I could make the trials of this invisible condition a little more visible, and share helpful tips or inspiring stories. Thank you for reminding me of that again. Now I am doubly glad I left the hard stuff in! ❤

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          1. I am glad you started your blog. Haven’t come across too many blogs like yours and with your condition. We all go through ugly times, can’t be avoided and it comes in waves, and it’s something that needs to be heard, and thank you for sharing again 🙂

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  2. The flame analogy is such a great way to describe depression vs hope. Being unable to locate that flicker is such an awful feeling, on the other hand knowing even the slightest of a flicker exists provides just enough hope to help us know we are okay. Perhaps not great but at least okay. That you took the little girl despite it all and that in turn it helped you to find happiness really falls in line with the ‘better to give than receive’. It really does lead to long term happiness, seemingly. Thank you for the ‘shout out’ and for reading along. Hoping your smile is easy to find today.😊

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