Finding Happiness After an SCI

Happiness after a Spinal Cord Injury

Ever wonder why some people are happier than others? Do you think to yourself how someone could live their life with content given their circumstances? Have you ever noticed someone in a worse off situation that’s happier than you? It’s a common misconception that the more money or power or beauty or fame you have makes you a happier person. In fact, studies have shown that there isn’t a strong correlation between these things and happiness. I believe it’s all in how you look at things, how you view life and the things around you, and what you value most.

People often tell me that I “look so happy” and that I am a very “positive person” given my circumstances. I usually just smile and say thank you, because I really don’t know what else to say to that. Some people actually seem shocked that I even give them a smile back. Yes, my situation is challenging. I’m a C-1 C-2 quadriplegic on a ventilator paralyzed from the neck down and require 24/7 nursing to do almost everything for me.

Life after a spinal cord injury (SCI) can be tough at times. Having to deal with the change of being able to move and feel everything to all of a sudden not, is the most frustrating, challenging, and difficult part of a SCI. I’ve learned over the years how to cope with my spinal cord injury and the different abilities that I am able to do. I’m lucky to be so positive about my situation. The reason I choose to be is because I couldn’t imagine going through life being mad or sad about what happened. It is what it is and I choose to deal with it the best I can for my own sanity.

As hard as it is I know that by working through the challenges and overcoming each obstacle that comes my way is another victory towards a better quality of life for me. If I can keep that momentum going and those thoughts in my mind, I know for a fact I can accomplish anything. My goal is to teach what I’ve learned to others; to share my story so that maybe I can help those in need of a little inspiration in their life to keep going no matter what comes their way.
What kind of life would I be living if I went around being mad all the time for what happened to me? How do you think I would feel inside if I spent my days dwelling on the past instead of looking at the present and future? If I kept spinning questions around in my head like: why me? What did I do to deserve this? Who would do such a thing? Why would anyone want to put this on another? Or if I were to question my own judgment by going through the scenario of that night and asking myself all of the “what if’s”.  What if I had decided to stay home that night? What if I hadn’t gotten in the car? What if I had chosen to sit in a different seat? To me, it seems so silly and pointless to ask these questions, given that it doesn’t do any good and I never get any answers; the only thing it does do is make me go crazy inside.

Of course, I know that there are many people out there in similar situations who have not accepted what’s happened to them and do question things constantly. They wonder why they made the choices they did or how this could happen to them. To those people I say good luck in finding the answers and let me know if you do. In my mind, it is a waste of time to be mad or question choices made in life.

But despite all I’ve been through and all I will continue to endure, I do live my life to the fullest and I’m proud to say that I am a “happy and positive person.”  I choose happiness because I want my life to be worth something; I want meaning and purpose in my life. I want to be able to live with what happened to me and not die with regret, unforgiveness, frustration, bitterness, or anger.

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