Life is a beautiful, crazy ride. You never know how seemingly little things can have a profound effect on your life. My life was changed by accident, literally!
In 1998, I was a successful Area Manager with a direct sales company. I enjoyed having a home office and raising my daughters in the house I bought as a single mom. A debilitating accident forced many life-altering changes. As a way of healing, I discovered the power of laughter, as well as the rewards of volunteering.
While the accident was just a little fender bender, within two years I could barely walk and my speech was slurred. The medical doctors were doing their best to figure out what was going on, but were stymied. I presented all the symptoms of MS but no tests confirmed this possibility. I was at the doctor’s a couple times a week trying to discover a path of healing. Finally, they decided to do surgery on my neck to see if that would help. They sent me for a second opinion and told me to get my “final papers” in order. That was a wakeup call for me! From that day forward I decided that it didn’t matter how much time I had left on this earth, I would choose to live deliberately. My attitude and smile were things I could choose to control. I began to deliberately use positivity as a way of life.
The second opinion did not agree that a surgery would help but I had started my own “healing.” Intuitively, I knew that laughter helped. I started watching funny movies and listening to clean comedy. As I learned later, laughter engages both the logical and creative sides of the brain and helped me find naturopathic healing. Today most people do not even notice the lingering effects of the accident.
The accident affected my ability to work and even though the accident was not my fault, the medical bills were piling up. I had to sell my home and find a new career. I moved to a very small duplex to rebuild my life. One Friday afternoon, I was feeling sorry for myself. I remembered a line from a poem “I felt bad that I had no shoes until I met a man with no feet.” I decided it was time to get over myself and deliberately switch my focus on something bigger than myself.
I called up the local Habitat for Humanity and was volunteering on the job site the next day. I fell in love with the people and this started a wonderful healing in my soul. There is no better way to heal than through service. I believe this so much I started my own nonprofit, Building Beyond the Walls, with the purpose to build community through service.
Since then I have had other tragic events in my life. I learned in Martin E.P. Seligman’s book “Flourish” that I have developed Post Traumatic Growth through them. While there is nothing funny about tragic loss, there are funny things that happen along the way. There is an equation we use “Time + Tragedy = Humor.”
Today, I am a Certified Laughter Leader (CLL) and a member of the Association of Applied and Therapeutic Humor (AATH). I teach people how to laugh and develop ways to cope in difficult situations.
If you are lucky, you will have adversity in your life. Adversity allows us to grow. It has crossroads where you get to choose if you will flourish or wither. You can choose to use the positivity that comes from laughter to help you flourish. Please join this SoHaPP sponsored event at the Enumclaw Library on Dec. 8th at either 10 a.m. or 2 p.m. to learn more about the power of laughter and how you can flourish in a withering world.
Also, for SoHaPP’s book read for the month of being positive, come to the Enumclaw Library on Dec. 12 at 6:30 p.m. to share thoughts on Martin E.P. Seligman’s “Flourish.” He is considered the father of positive psychology. To help promote SoHaPP’s initiative (being more grateful, positive, mindful, kind, active), The Sequel offers this and the four other SoHaPP books for the year at 25 percent off during the initiative’s five months. To learn more of the Science of Happiness and Positive Psychology (SoHaPP), go to www.sohapp.org.