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Reconnecting with Joy After Brain Injury

Brain Injury Blog 

Reconnecting with Joy After Brain Injury

by Janelle Breese Biagioni

So many things in life give us joy. From precious babies and newborn animals to music, painting, photography, sculpting, gardening, mountain climbing and cooking, people experience joy. When you suffer a loss, it snuffs the joy out of your life and it makes it difficult to put a smile on your face.

Death, divorce, and other painful transitions, including the ending of a relationship with a parent, sibling, child or friend are experiences that may leave one feeling abandoned, rejected, and unloved. Many people with a brain injury and/or their family members are often struggling to incorporate rehabilitation, legal action, relationship changes, and loss of income and security into their new life. Any one of these losses or endings can result in a person no longer feeling joy. All of these losses take time to reconcile and it is in the reconciling that we can begin to connect with joy again.

Here are some suggestions to help you reconnect with joy:

  1. Watch funny movies or television shows – no greater story than that of Patch Adams, a doctor who infused humour into his work with gravely ill children, demonstrates how laughter can lighten the burden on your heart. It’s okay to laugh after loss. You are not being disrespectful and it actually has positive benefits for your health. Remember you don’t have to ‘fix’ everything at once. It’s okay, and healthy, to take little breaks from the heavy burdens of life and lighten your mood by doing something fun. A change is as good as a rest.
  2. Take time to smell the flowers – I know that sounds very cliché, but it really is about allowing yourself to just stop, breath and take in the beauty around you. Look at the magnificence of this world and take in its wonder and know you are part of the beauty that abounds. Get your hands in the dirt and plant flowers or do some weeding. Walk among the trees or along the ocean … breathe deeply and slowly and remind yourself that you are a part of the magnificence.
  3. Go out of your way to help someone else – this too may sound simplistic, but it works. Do one small thing every day for someone else and do it without expecting they notice or do anything in return. Do it to be nice, helpful and caring. It’s rare that the other person wouldn’t notice and thank you. As well, plenty of others are going through a difficult time. It likely different than your situation but nonetheless, they too would appreciate someone caring enough about them to either listen to their story or to take care of them. The rewards and appreciation you receive can’t help but increase your level of joy.
  4. Start cleaning and de-cluttering your home. It’s amazing how cleaning and taking time to get rid of clutter can re-energize your home and your spirit. Raising the energy around you helps to raise your internal energy.
  5. You can’t hold two thoughts at one time so whenever a negative thought creeps in, simply tell yourself “delete” and pretend you hit the delete button on your computer. Immediately state to yourself or out loud a positive statement such as, “Each and every day, I am getting stronger in every way.” Smile while you say it!
  6. Only hang out with positive people. The negativity of others can bring you down. The more positive people you interact with, the more positive you feel. The more positive you feel, the more positive experiences and opportunities there will be in your life. And when things are going your way… it’s impossible to not feel joy!