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Disability and the Pursuit of Happiness

  • Date: 2013/07/08 (Rev. 2015/04/19)
  • Disabled World - Disabled World
  • Synopsis : Perfect health and physical or mental ability also does not mean that a person is automatically happy.

Main Document

The ability to put aside what may at times seem to be chaos in life related to issues associated with the experience of disability and find happiness may seem to be unattainable; it is not. Despite the issues that you may face in relation to the particular form of disability you have, happiness in life is something that is a very real possibility. Perfect health and physical or mental ability also does not mean that a person is automatically happy.

One of the perceptions that seems to make some people with disabilities unhappy is the one held by some in society that those of us who do experience forms of disabilities are somehow, 'less than,' or not as capable as those who are in perfect health. I struggled with the perceptions of others for a period of time, only to discover that if a person was not a family member, friend, or close associate their perspectives truly had no real bearing on my life. Why should I be concerned about the negative perceptions of people who have no real place in my life

For that matter, people with disabilities are incredibly varied in their abilities, and non-disabled persons are also just as limited and skilled in their own ways. Finding your own happiness as a person who experiences a disability means understanding that people are people; disabilities or not. I have epilepsy and osteoarthritis for example, the fact that I cannot play All-Star Basketball doesn't concern me in the slightest.

Ask yourself what it is that you do best and then smile. Why? Because you are good at it. No matter what it is you are good at doing it is a skill you have! People with disabilities are contributing members to society like everyone else, our skills and abilities are just as valuable as the skills and abilities anyone else have.

The fact that you might use adaptive equipment or require accommodations shouldn't bother you in the slightest - half the world and more goes through their day with things like smart phones, tablet computers, voice command gadgets in their vehicles and far more. I would call those items, 'adaptive equipment for non-disabled persons and everyone else.' These items may also be viewed as accommodations and a great many people, both with and without disabilities, use these items on a regular basis.

What is the real difference between using a power wheelchair and driving around in a car that is bluetooth enabled, has a USB port, and On-Star? Some people who use power wheelchairs have the same kinds of electronics attached to their wheelchairs! Some non-disabled persons get into their version of a power wheelchair and drive it down the block too. Are they really that different? I don't think so. It is how the members of each of these groups perceive their lives that will decide whether or not they are happy.

In other words, choosing your perspectives and frame of reference in relation to life and others can greatly change your view of life as a person with disabilities. Understanding that how you perceive your levels of independence, control, and choice in life are directly related to your level of happiness is very important. The person in society I feel worst for is the person who holds down three jobs and still finds themselves unable to pay all of their bills. Such a person may very well be perfectly healthy - yet they have little independence, control over their life, or choice in life.

"There are so many opportunities in life, that the loss of two or three capabilities is not necessarily debilitating. A handicap can give you the opportunity to focus more on art, writing, or music." -- Jim Davis

Disabilities come in many forms, some of them are visible while others are not. A vast number of medical issues may lead to limitations that find a person experiencing a form of disability. Despite the level of limitations you may experience there is certainly hope in each day. The key to happiness is choosing to maintain a positive outlook on life itself.

Researchers refer to being satisfied and happy with life as, 'subjective well-being.' They have discovered that having things like money and health do not always mean that people are happy! They found out that some people are truly happy even if there are things about their lives they would like to change. The things that make people happiest included:

  • Choice
  • Activities
  • Social roles
  • Relationships
  • Independence

Sometimes it becomes necessary to reclaim your own sense of peace. Ditch the chaos; pursue your own happiness. Your own sense of happiness begins with you - take the time to examine any positive things in your own life and build on them. Share the good things in your life with others and enjoy the good things in life they share with you. Get involved in the activities you enjoy, relish the level of independence you do have, make the choices you can. Choose to pursue your own happiness.

References and Citations:

Physical disability brings marital happiness
news.byu.edu/archive08-Dec-disability.aspx

"The numbers show that couples seem to come together when one of them experiences physical limitations," Yorgason said. "This suggests disability is a two-way street, with some surprising pluses in addition to the minuses people ordinarily expect."

Life Satisfaction in the Wake of Disability
www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-good-life/201112/life-satisfaction-in-the-wake-disability

The results of this study suggest that people who do well in the wake of disability are the same people who were doing well before.

Find Happiness with Chronic Illness and Disability
dj-astellarlife.blogspot.com/2011/12/find-happiness-with-chronic-illness-and.html

There are so MANY healthy people out there. Some of the saddest people I know. Now, I do NOT believe "when you have your health you have everything," biggest lie on the planet, but it certainly can make a quest for happiness easier.



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