We are always talking about triggers. I’ve spent hours in discussion about what sets off my COPD symptoms, what I am sensitive to, and what I should avoid. We discuss tracking all these triggers in a health tracker so we will understand them and help manage our disease better. We never seem to discuss happiness triggers. No matter how small, these are the things that make us happy inside, add quality to our lives, and bring us comfort.
Science and experience
The science of happiness
There is a scientific explanation about happiness hormones and the chemicals released. I tried to research them, but decided we would all be unhappy reading about them! Science says they exist. The hormones get released when we discover something makes us happy, and life feels better.
I understand and am a big advocate for understanding our COPD disease. The more I know, the better I can manage it. I believe we should also be including happiness as part of that management.
I have read so many studies about how happiness helps our immune system, our mental health, heart health, and chronic conditions, I wonder why it isn’t discussed more. Would focus on what brings us joy, no matter how small, alleviate any of our COPD symptoms? I am sure anxiety might be one of them.
It is so difficult to separate ourselves from our illness, I think we forget to stop and experience happiness. My life changed so much. For a few years, I could only think about existing. I know it started to change when I began to look outside myself, finding appreciation in small moments throughout the day.
Bringing joy to each day
I have started thinking more and more about what gives me that feeling of joy in my life and causes me to smile. How do I include these things in my everyday life? I began with a list of just a few simple things that I can incorporate into my days.
Included in this list are my morning coffee, meditation, a good book, uncluttered space, conversation with a friend or family member, time on my porch, and my favorite music. I have started a notebook that is only about happiness in my life, focusing on the above items.
It will be a good day
Living with COPD is unpredictable. I never know with complete certainty how my breathing will be. I have learned to live with that daily uncertainty. We co-exist and while I don’t dwell on it too often, I have to believe there is room for improvement. If each morning I wake up with the intention it will be a good day instead of wondering if it will be, it immediately changes my thinking from doubt to positivity.
The wonderful thing about these things that bring us happiness is we can come back to them anytime. One of my favorite sounds is a baby laughing. They laugh uncontrollably at the silliest things with complete glee. If I am having a bad moment, a few moments of listening to their infectious laugh on videos is enough to bring me out of any gloomy mood. My afternoon cup of herbal tea in a quiet corner with meditation music is something that brings me comfort daily, including helping my breathing and anxiety.
I know I have to pay attention to what triggers my COPD symptoms. It is part of my daily management. I hope that including as many moments of happiness and comfort into my day will also help with that management.
What are the things or moments, no matter how small or simple, that can bring joy to your daily life? Do you feel these help you manage COPD better? Let's talk about it!
Editor's Note: We are heartbroken to share that Carol passed away in February of 2022. Carol's storytelling and advocacy will be deeply missed, but her legacy lives on through her articles and in all the people she inspired.
Have you taken our COPD In America Survey yet?