I remember as a child thinking that I was invincible. I would play these scenarios in my mind where I’d be the only one to survive a plane crash or I’d be the only one immune to some viral disease. I realize how silly those thoughts are now, but I don’t think we ever really grow out of our “superiority complexes”; I think they just evolve as we start to face more complex problems. It’s not as blatant as when we were kids, but it’s still there. The “I’m so invincible I could fly,” turns into the thought that “nothing bad could ever happen to me.” I think, deep down, everyone wants to feel like they’re somehow immune or untouchable to bad things and because of our modern, developed societies, we’ve evolved in such a way where we no longer have to be in flight, fight, or freeze all the time. We have all the basics we need (and more) within an arms-reach, so we often get complacent. It’s even gone as far as becoming desensitized to the “wrong” and “broken”. I remember feeling scared when I got sick, but I never once thought that the doctors wouldn’t be able to help me. I really didn’t think about the possibility of not having that privilege and I was totally comfortable with the idea that modern medicine would be able to cure me right away.
So our superiority complexes turn into somewhat of a double-edged sword. It’s amazing to be comfortable and not live with constant anxiety, but it’s a curse to know that life’s inevitable hardships are going to hit us when we’re most-likely unprepared. No person on this Earth is immune to bad things; rich or poor, hardworking or lazy, beautiful or not – no one is special enough to escape. But, in all honesty, I don’t think our inability to escape the negative is necessarily bad. You see, the negatives are often positives in disguise. Most of the time, it takes a huge life event for us to change. Obviously, for me, that life event was getting sick. I spent the first 2-3 years with TN feeling bad for myself. I constantly asked questions like “why me?” and “what did I do to deserve this?” I scoured over my whole life within my head, looking for anything bad that I might’ve done. But the truth is, no one deserves something like this; it just happens, and whether you believe in fate or not, you have the choice to learn from your bad experiences or let them take you down – this is where positivity can be created.
Trigeminal Neuralgia has taught me some of my most important lessons. One of my hopes and goals is to teach others these lessons and spread positivity, so that they might be better prepared for a bad situation. So, without further ado, here are 20 of the positive lessons I have learned:
1) Love and give love, instead of harbouring hate and animosity. As important as it is to acknowledge your feelings, anger is not productive when it comes to your mental health.
2) Know when to put yourself first. You cannot properly care for someone else if you are not properly cared for yourself. Your body is your vessel for doing everything – treat it well.
3) Never take anything for granted and be grateful for the tiniest things. Be grateful to your body for allowing you to do the simplest of tasks. Be grateful for having the basic necessities of life. Be grateful for love. Be grateful.
4) Search for the reasons to be happy and grateful, rather than seeking out the reasons to be mad or sad. Acknowledge all the amazing things in your life. Write them down if you have to!
5) Feel your feelings instead of bottling them up. Crying is just as important as laughing. It’s extremely difficult to move on from a bad event if you just ignore your feelings. Allow your body to have that release.
6) Take everything with patience and stride. Rushing life can lead to more hardships than necessary. Sometimes our brains and our bodies need extra time to fully comprehend and recover. Most of our regrets come from rushing a thought or an action, so don’t be afraid to take some time for yourself.
7) Read the story before judging the book by its cover (I know it’s cliché, but it’s important). Everyone has their own story and it’s shaped them into who they are today. There’s always a reason that someone acts in a certain way and you can learn a lot just from listening and observing.
8) Look for the good, even in your worst enemies, but don’t waste your time and energy on people that don’t deserve it. Be the bigger person and try and acknowledge when it’s time to walk away.
9) View life like poetry. Some of the most beautiful things lie hidden and require deep thought and observation to be found. It’s important to take a couple minutes every day to search.
10) Play and explore with the imagination of a child – try and feel the fun instead of thinking about it. I’ve found that when I let my instinct guide me, my experiences are more meaningful and memorable.
11) Forever isn’t a guarantee – hold your loved ones close and let them be a part of you. Let them help you through the tough times and be there for them when they experience it themselves.
12) Say the things you want to say and do the things you want to do. Again, forever isn’t a guarantee. Don’t let something or someone stop you from living life to the fullest.
13) Question yourself when you’re angry or anxious. Is the topic worth the mental energy? Will it matter in the long-run? Are you catastrophizing?
14) Listen to as many differing opinions as you can before forming your own. You might discover something you never thought of and you’ll be more educated on the subject matter.
15) Learn to lose elegantly – accept loss and learn from it. Mistakes and loss will teach you so much more than winning ever will.
16) Don’t wait for happiness to find you. Search for it and squeeze it into every spare second you have. Unfortunately, pain is easier to find, but it’s incredibly fulfilling to conquer it with found happiness.
17) Don’t let the past inhibit you from finding happiness. As I’ve said previously, feel your feelings and question negativity. Not moving on from the past puts you at risk for not experiencing wonderful opportunities in the present and future.
18) There’s a quote by an unknown author that says, “temporary happiness is not worth long-term pain.” Avoiding your problems will only make them stronger. Don’t put your body at risk by numbing your mind. Physical and mental health go hand-in-hand and it’s not okay to put one over the other.
19) You don’t have to understand life to live. You might not figure everything out right away and that’s more than okay! Life should be about happiness, not spending your life looking for something you may or may not find.
20) Just because life can be cruel, unfair, and hard, doesn’t mean it can’t be good, fun, and fulfilling. Negatives don’t have to out-rule positives and they can absolutely exist in the presence of each other.
I look back to before I learned these lessons and it always makes me smile. Sometimes I wish I could go back to my naivety and feel invincible once again. Perhaps it’s because I always associated invincibility with happiness. The times I felt invincible were always when my life was good, but as we know, that’s not always realistic or achievable. I’ve come to learn that informed confidence is really what I sought after. Being aware that you’re not invincible, but being prepared, is a truly fulfilling feeling. Although we may not be able to control what happens to us, we can control our reaction and response. The beautiful thing about life is that it doesn’t have a set schedule; there are so many opportunities to place positivity if we make it a priority. Own and be proud of the life you were given because you don’t get a second one – this is your life and it is what you make of it. Make it a good one!