From Depression To Joy
Can you imagine waking up every day and not wanting to get out of bed? Can you imagine having no desire to talk to friends or be with family or even to do the work you love? Can you imagine the thought of getting dressed or putting on clothes feeling like too much for you to do?
About twelve years ago I got Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD). Prior to that my life was fantastic. I was married to my best friend, I have loving and supportive friends and family and I was doing work that was meaningful and enjoyed my work because I was making a huge difference in the lives and businesses of my clients.
Then, all of the sudden I tore my Achilles and RSD set in and now I was in a wheelchair in horrific pain and unable to function day in and day out. I simply lay in bed with burning, stabbing and never-ending pain. it was as if someone took the blood out of my veins, filled me up with lighter fluid and lit me on fire. I burned twenty-four seven and no medications or treatments of any kind helped. I felt as if my entire life was taken away.
Prior to this event, I was a motivational speaker and a clinical psychologist and a life and business coach and consultant who helped other people create more success and happiness in their lives and businesses. Now, I had no idea how I was going to continue focusing on helping others find enthusiasm in business or in life.
One night I was at my lowest-low. The pain was unbearable and I thought of taking my life to make the pain finally stop. I thought I was actually writing a suicide note when hours later I read what I wrote and it was a book! I was shocked! I read what I had written and released that it was time to stop my own pity party.
The first action I took was to google RSD. I discovered there were children with this disease. I then learned that many families could not afford any care or treatments for their children.
That is when it dawned on me… I got this disease and this disease is a gift. That’s right, a gift. I have a voice and speak on stages all over the world and reach millions of people online and off-line with my speaking, coaching, consulting and through my books.
It was no accident I was given this disease. I needed to take this disease and the lessons I learned from it and begin turning outwards to help others instead of thinking about myself.
The next day I started the process of forming a non-profit for children with RSD along with my husband and have devoted time to fundraising, helping and supporting these children and their families and, educating people about RSD. I turned my focus outwards and within two short days, I realized I was excited and enthusiastic about my own business and my own life and this cause.
The pain? It was still there. Just as intense. So, what shifted? My own enthusiasm for life shifted.
What Is Enthusiasm?
According to author and speaker Earl Nightingale, “The word “enthusiasm” comes from the Greek word “entheos” which means the God within. And the happiest, most interesting people are those who have found the secret of maintaining their enthusiasm, that God within.”
Once I realized that my own enthusiasm came from within myself I realized I had control of my life and could choose to experience pain and feel sorry for myself or I could choose to notice these sensations in my body and move forward with happiness and joy that I am alive to feel them.
That was a huge shift for me.
Once I made this conscious decision I had to find a way to keep focusing on my own joy and happiness.
How did I do this?
I believe that when we help other people and put other people as our focus then we have little time to spend noticing the things in our own lives that aren’t quite right, yet. So, I shifted my focus to helping others get the results or the outcomes that they wanted and put less focus on my own wants and needs.
Enthusiasm Quotes Helped Me
I created some new habits and they all began by reading enthusiasm quotes. I wake up each morning and read a quote that motivates and inspires me to keep on my mission of serving others and keeping myself happy and joyful. I read and digest and embrace quotes like this one. “Today is the only life you are sure of. Make the most of today. Get interested in something. Shake yourself awake. Develop a hobby. Let the winds of enthusiasm sweep through you. Live today with gusto.” This quote is from Dale Carnegie who developed famous courses in self-improvement, salesmanship, corporate training, public speaking, and interpersonal skills.
I read the words and I actually take a few minutes to feel what it would be like to think this way no matter what life or business was tossing at me. Then I go about my day.
If an obstacle comes into my path I take time to embrace another quote that will shift me out of any negative thinking to actually feeling energized and excited again.
Here are some of my favorite enthusiasm quotes.
“If you have passion, there is no need for excuses because your enthusiasm will trump any negative reasoning you might come up with. Enthusiasm makes excuses a non-issue.” This one is by Wayne Dyer, philosopher, self-help author, and a motivational speaker.
“If you aren’t fired with enthusiasm, you will be fired with enthusiasm.” This was said by Vince Lombardi, head coach and general manager of the Green Bay Packers.
“If you have zest and enthusiasm you attract zest and enthusiasm. Life does give back in kind.” Norman Vincent Peale authored this quote. He was a minister and an author known for his work in popularizing the concept of positive thinking.
What Else Fosters Natural Enthusiasm?
Having natural excitement for life is a wonderful feeling. I have created systems for having this in my life and I share this with the children and parents my foundation supports as well as with all my client family members.
The first thing I share is to find something that you are passionate about. It could be your dog or your cat or your children. It doesn’t matter. Whatever you love and feel super excited about is what to put your focus on.
I also teach to journal a list of things you are grateful for each day. The act of being grateful and spending time noticing what is going right and going well in your business and your life transforms your thinking in an instant. I don’t care if the things you are grateful for are large or small. As an example, my RSD was in a flare-up for many months and I had to be in a wheelchair and finally graduated to using a cane. I was giving a TEDx talk the other day and really hoped to be able to stand on stage while giving the talk. Being grateful for the ability to stand for a few minutes each day was an attitude booster. And the other day I gave the talk standing and walking on stage with no cane!
One of the biggest shifts I share with my client family members is to keep focusing on what IS going right and what IS working. When you spend time thinking and talking about things that are not quite right yet, you will find yourself having a lot of negative thoughts and negative chatter. Your attitude will sink. So, constantly remind yourself to stay in the energy of what is going well.
Find things to celebrate. Celebrate your accomplishments, your health, your wealth, the fact you have loving family and friends or anything else you are proud of and happy about. Talk about those things out loud and in your own self-talk.
Find an outlet. This can be something fun like listening to music or dancing or taking a walk in the park or even calling a friend or taking a bubble bath. Find a way to get yourself back to joy.
Find some quiet time. Every day be still and be alone in silence. This peaceful time will allow you to gather your own excitement without having to be doing anything active. It will calm you. You don’t need to meditate or to do yoga. Just find a few minutes each day where you can sit in silence and just be.
Be a continuous learner. Life is about growing yourself. Read, listen to audiobooks, podcasts, watch YouTube videos that are educational or motivational, go to seminars or workshops, watch webinars, learn from others in a like-minded community, and/or read inspirational articles.
I recommend you pick at least three of these things that resonate most with you. They will enhance and complement one another.
If you are a regular reader of my blog, you may notice that I don’t just talk about things that will improve your business and your life, I actually give you examples of how these things have helped others and myself in real life. So, in that tradition, I will end this article by sharing a case study of an actual client.
I will call her Sue. She came to me for business consulting help and told me that she was about to cry because her business was failing and she was overwhelmed with work at her day job and could not see how she was going to get her business off the ground and leave her job. On top of that one of her parents was very ill and she was caring for her elderly parent.
Before I began working on the plan for her business I went to work on shifting her because I believe business and life success are built from the inside out. Once you have the right mindset you can accomplish what you desire.
I had her begin a gratitude journal and commit to that journal daily. I also had her find ten positive quotes she liked and to read them daily and I instructed her to find some quiet time engaged in something that was fun. She agreed and soon was spending time each evening with her adult coloring books and enjoying the quiet and peaceful time of doing something other than work or take care of her parent.
I asked her to focus on what was working and any time she found herself feeling down she was to snap a rubber band on her wrist (hard) and to begin to smile and breathe and focus on things she was grateful for.
She wanted to know how this was going to help the growth of her business. I told her to do this process for thirty days along with her gratitude journal and then we would work on her business. I could tell she thought my process was odd and yet she trusted in the mentor she had hired and invested in and I promised her I would not let her down.
On day twenty-one she sent me a text telling me she was happier than the had ever been and had a lot of new and creative ideas about how to grow her business and was excited to move forward. We had a mentoring session and I felt like I was speaking with a different person. Sue was happy and laughed a lot and I could hear the smile in her voice and her passion for her business.
We then created an actionable two-week plan for her to work on her business with her commitment to keeping up all the other practices she was doing that were keeping her attitude and excitement perfectly aligned. Fast forward, she is making progress in her business and handling the responsibilities for her parent in a more loving and gentle way and her husband told her, “I love seeing you happy”.
There you go!
Now it’s your turn.
What will you take from this article and actually do to shift your own enthusiasm?