Jun 22, 2013 / by Alisa Hafen / No Comments

When a broken bone heals, it is stronger in that place than it was before the break.

It is the same with mental or emotional injury and healing.

You can become stronger than before the injury.That is the beauty of healing. That is the gift of injury.

I struggle to breathe. I slip in and out of consciousness, groggy from pain medication, unable to fully understand what has happened. I see bright glittering stars in front of me. They are so real, so close. I can reach right out and touch them.

Gradually the painkillers wear off. I become coherent, but can’t communicate. I am hungry, but can’t eat. A plastic tube snakes down my throat. Other tubes run up my nose, down the back of my throat and into my stomach or directly into my arm with a needle. One supplies my body with food, another with liquid.

Wires twist over my face. A machine helps me breathe. I am frightened and in pain – but no pain below my upper chest. That frightens me even more. I feel a burning dry thirst and a constant sense of suffocation. Even with the help of a mechanical respirator, I struggle for each shallow breath.

A “halo brace” holds my head immobile. There is nothing angelic about this halo brace. Four screws have been drilled through my skin and into my skull, two on each side above the ears. The pain is excruciating. The foundation of the brace is a large plastic breastplate lined with sheepskin to keep the plastic from irritating my skin. Steel bars are attached to the breastplate, extend up and over my shoulders, and are fastened to the back. The halo brace is connected to weights that hold my head and neck straight and keep pressure off my spine. It allows me to move nothing but my eyes.

Every life has peaks and shadows and times when it seems that the birds don’t sing and bells don’t ring. Yet in spite of discouragement and adversity, those who are happiest seem to have a way of learning from difficult times, becoming stronger, wiser, and happier as a result.

How can we love days that are filled with sorrow? We can’t – at least not in the moment. I am not suggesting that we suppress discouragement or deny the reality of pain. I am not suggesting that we smother unpleasant truths beneath a cloak of pretended happiness. But I do believe that the way we react to adversity can be a major factor in how happy and successful we can be in life.

If we approach adversities wisely, our hardest times can be times of greatest growth, which in turn can lead toward times of greatest happiness.

Learn to Laugh

The first thing we can do is learn to laugh. Have you had an encounter with an overhanging cupboard door left open at the wrong place and the wrong time which has been cursed, condemned, and avenged by a sore-headed victim?

There is an antidote for times such as these: learn to laugh.

Laughter is a powerful antidote to stress, pain, and conflict. Nothing works faster or more dependably to bring your mind and body back into balance than a good laugh. Humor lightens your burdens, inspires hopes, connects you to others, and keeps you grounded, focused, and alert.

Laughter is good for your health

-Laughter relaxes the whole body. A good, hearty laugh relieves physical tension and stress, leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after.
-Laughter boosts the immune system. Laughter decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease.
-Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.
-Laughter protects the heart. Laughter improves the function of blood vessels and increases blood flow, which can help protect you against a heart attack and other cardiovascular problems.

I remember so many times in the hospital, and still along my journey that I have to laugh. If I didn’t laugh at some of the things my body does there is only one other thing I would do. Cry. I don’t want to cry, so I had to learn to laugh.

The next time you’re tempted to groan, you might try to laugh instead. It will extend your life and make the lives of all those around you more enjoyable.

Smile and be grateful, because life is beautiful…

“The way we react to adversity can be a major factor in how happy and successful we can be in life.” -Joseph B. Wirthlin