Happy Pants

Today, I literally wore my happy pants to work.

Don’t believe me?

Check ’em out in the picture below:

Those are some pretty happy pants, right? I *heart* them so much.

Just like I *heart* a joyful attitude.

When I was a high school English teacher, I frequently used to tell my students to put on their happy pants, typically in response to a whiny comment about homework or something. Of course I wasn’t talking about the pants in my picture (although I wouldn’t blame them if they wanted a pair!). I actually meant several things:

  • You don’t like something? Tough. Deal with it.
  • You don’t want to do something? Too bad. It’s required.
  • You want to waste our time whining? Nope. Not wasting mine.

I don’t mean to sound overly harsh here…truly, I don’t. I know there are a lot of dynamics that go into wearing your happy pants.

Sometimes they don’t fit well. They’re too tight from all the pressures of life, or they’re too big because you seem to be shrinking in upon yourself.

Sometimes you just don’t like them. The print is too loud for your tired soul, or you think they look stupid so you want to angrily send them to Goodwill.

But believe me when I say this: happy pants can make or break you in the midst of difficult circumstances.

Either you put them on and deal with the issues life throws at you, or you leave them in the closet and give up.

Now please don’t mistake me: life can be so, so brutal. It is totally ok to break down and cry or scream or lean on a loved one to let those feelings out in a productive way.

But in order to get through PI-IBS, IBS, or any other form of chronic illness, you need something in your life that makes you happy…despite all the things that aren’t going well. It can be really hard at times, but I know for a fact that being intentional with my happiness helps me through the toughest moments of my diagnosis. A few of my “happy pants” strategies include:

  • Intentionally replacing one negative thought with three positive ones
  • Wearing actual “happy pants” and shoes with crazy patterns
  • Going for a 30-minute bike ride or walk
  • Getting a massage
  • Sitting on my porch
  • Playing with my dog
  • Reading a good book
  • Reading uplifting scripture and spending time in prayer
  • Listening to fun music (and singing along, of course!)

Living with a long-term illness can really bring you down…if you let it. It can absolutely ruin your life…if you let it. But putting on your happy pants can make a world of difference in how you see yourself, your circumstances, and your surroundings. I would highly recommend creating your own list of “happy pants” strategies and giving them a try.

As for me, giving up on my happy pants is just not an option.

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