Friday, December 27, 2013

How to be Happy When You're Blind or Has a Disability

Happiness is an illusive feeling that we all seek as humans.    No matter age, gender, race, abled or disabled, we all want it.

One might ask, how can you be happy when you have less than others? Just as in the case of the rich man vs average man,  its not about the  actual number that determines  how rich you are, its your perception that will be the key to happiness.  Add to this a sense of gratitude, then you've got the recipe for happiness.

Sounds simple right? Not quite.  If you have a kid who's suffering from some sort of disability, (stargardt's or otherwise) its not as straightforward as telling them you should be grateful.  If anything, you'll get the opposite effect and often trigger anger.  Hearing someone privileged talking about poverty isn't the most convincing story, so the worst thing you can do is tell your child they should be grateful compared to the rest of the world.  Even though this is true, that being grateful will bring happiness, it not really something that can be told.   As a teenager myself and even to this day, even though I am grateful for what I do have, I really don't like it when people tell me that I SHOULD be grateful or compare others to me.  For me, I feel that its almost condescending to me because when people compare, (even though its in good intent) I almost want to say to them why don't you bear the cross and see how well you deal with it.  We all have to take it our own pace, and being told to be grateful is almost insulting especially coming from an outsider's perspective. 

I think what needs to be recognized is that its not an easy process to see the light in this dark tunnel, and part of what I hated about motivational speakers is they NEVER talk about the dark side.  I don't buy for a single second that there aren't bad days, but the fact that no one talks about it really takes away any credibility that the motivation speaker's content has.  

Although gratitude can't be told, it is a choice that can be made.  so empower your child to CHOOSE happiness.  Just because there's a disability, doesn't mean they don't have choices, they can choose to see it as a half empty half full glass.  Help them understand that although they are disabled, it doesn't mean they can't do what they want, give them the hope and of any kid.  Encourage them to try things even if there may be limitations on what they can do, there's no reason why they can't do something and they should know that.  Teach them to protect themselves but be open to go for their dreams. 

Kids typically don't know what the meaning of can't is until an adult tells them so.  Parents often rob their children of dreams because they were too scared to pursue their own.  Their own fears of failure is passed on to their kids and the child become scared of doing things.  Often its not the disability that is the limiting factor but the negative beliefs that surrounds the condition which prevents the child from doing what they want.   And please don't justify your own fears by saying its for their own good or you're trying to protect them.

Growing up being disabled and different,  it's hard not to get picked on.  The best support  you can give is let the child understand they should never be apologetic for who they are.  Believe in themselves and go after their dreams no matter what others say.  Give them the strength to face the judgemental world.  When others are ignorant, this I when your child needs to stand up for him or herself. 

If you as a parent empower your child, then they will find their way  and come to terms with who they are.  Encourage them so not to view disability as a limiting factor but instead a factor that needs to be addressed. 

Be all that you can be, and happiness will follow.

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