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10 Things People with Disabilities Need to Start Doing Today to Be Happier

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People have always been more interested in the secret to eternal life, not the secret to true happiness. That’s because people already think they know what would make them happy – a perfect body, perfect health, money, sex, adventure, fame, success; all the usual subjects. And people with disabilities often choose these usual subjects too.

But for people who’ve won the lottery and ended up with a crazy life a few years later know, getting what you want isn’t always the secret to happiness. Sometimes the secret isn’t something you can buy or achieve with good looks, but something from within that can change, helping you truly align yourself with the road to happiness.

Read on for 10 ways people with disabilities can start getting happier today.

1) No more regrets.

A lot of us have become disabled through an accident, accidents that in many cases could’ve been avoided. Living day in and day out with regret however over such big life moments is never a good thing because simply put – you can never go back and get a do-over, and there’s no use wasting time thinking about what can’t be undone.

Instead, coming to peace with how your injury occurred and not retaining any anger towards anyone who may have caused is the wise choice, even if it seems incredibly hard. Letting go of regrets can restore true happiness to your life and heal the soul in profound ways.

2) Be as independent as you can.

Relying on others may be unavoidable, but becoming too dependent, even letting yourself become a wee bit lazy and let others do things for you that you can, can siphon away your happiness very quick. Try everything, from making an entire recipe from start to end without asking for any help to getting your license. Always remember that doing things on your own can make you immensely happy.

3) Embrace your individuality.

When you’re disabled, it can be stressful, even downright embarrassing to always be the odd one out. “Fitting in,” after all, is a base human need. But looking at your uniqueness differently, and loving every bit of it (and really believing it) can make you blissfully happy.

I love that I’m not everyone else because it makes me more memorable. Life is too short to be vanilla; to be like everyone else and doing the same old thing. Disability can definitely make life harder, but it can also make you a unique survivor worth noticing.

4) Connect with your sexual self.

Denying your sexual self can be one of the worst things you can do if you have a disability. As human beings, having sexual experiences are key to keep our happiness levels afloat, but I know this can be hard for many. Finding a partner that can look past your disability is not always easy. And for many, this can leave us involuntarily celibate for years.

Try online dating if you haven’t yet, and if you’re still having no luck, masturbation can be great in the interim, especially if paired with quality pornography. No matter what though – do not forget your sexual self. Primp, shave, powder, or do whatever you do to get your “I am sexy” feeling on.

5) Make friends you can relate to.

We all need people in our lives we can relate to, someone who really knows our daily struggles because they live them too. High school girls like to hang with other high school girls for example, and I like to have at least one female friend who uses a wheelchair. Being able to vent with someone who really knows your struggles is better than any therapist session by far.

6) Only surround yourself with positive people.

While this isn’t possible every moment of the day, only surrounding yourself with people who support and genuinely like you is a big thing you can do in the way of finding true happiness. We are all guilty of staying friends with people who bring us down or are negative. It’s not easy cutting people out of your life, especially if you’re afraid of being lonely, but negative people can suck out your happiness worse than a hungry vampire.

Instead, find people who are happy for you when you succeed, who wish the best for you at all times, who are happy in their own lives too. You can never go wrong with your own personal cheer team.

See Also: 10 Tips to Keep the Love Alive in a Relationship with a Disability

7) Find a skill you’re really good at (and make money doing it).

Everyone needs to be good at something, to be known or notorious for a certain skill. Whether it’s poker, applying makeup, designing, writing, cooking or financial planning, the key is finding one thing you can do that makes you proud. And better than that (if possible), a skill that helps you make extra money. Being able to support yourself, or just being able to bring in some income by doing something you love is a true life pleasure. It’s also a great way to beef up your self-esteem, if needed.

 8) Help others.

It can be too easy to get caught up in your life of limitations when you have a disability. Using your life to help others however, no longer focusing on what you need, can redirect your mental stream in a positive way. Volunteering, mentoring, helping at a kid’s with disabilities camp, visiting old people in a nursing home; doing anything  outside of yourself can cause an explosion of happiness in your world.Being happy at all times may not be the true purpose of life, but wallowing in unhappiness certainly isn’t life’s purpose either. Before you give up on finding happiness entirely, try a few of the tips above. You’ll be surprised at what layers of happiness are yet to be uncovered.

9) Church/Live Music/<Insert Your Religion Here>

For people of faith, this is huge. With faith, and a dogma if you’re lucky, you can have a handbook to happiness all ready to go. Faith gives your life purpose and the answer to eternal life; both are true-blue happy inducers. If you’re willing, try reconnecting with your childhood faith or a faith you’ve always been interested in, and then see how it feels. It may give you more comfort than you’d think.

And for non-religious people, a great alternative is live music. The energy that emanates from a live performance can make you feel like you’ve had the most amazing sex of your life. The louder and more feverish the better. Whatever your music genre poison is, a monthly episode at the minimum of soaking in the presence of live music may be just the Prozac you were looking for. And remember – the smaller venues, the better (they typically let you get closer to the stage if you can’t walk).

10) Start exercising.

They say getting your body moving and blood circulating can get your endorphins flowing, those lovely happy-happy hormones, and they’re right. But when you have a disability getting in that exercise takes a bit more creativity and let’s face it – many of us get tired quicker. Using the Wii, arm weights, handcycling or even chair-aerobics can be great ways to get in a cardio workout, which if you want to really see if exercising works, you should be doing at least four times a week.

And whatever you do, don’t start doing an adapted sport just because your therapist recommends it. If you didn’t like basketball before your injury and now you use a wheelchair, chances are you still won’t like it. Find a physical activity you love doing, and you’re on your way to finding that happiness and clear of mind feeling you can only get from exercising.

How do you find happiness?

See More: 10 Things Every Parent Should Teach Their Kids About Disabilities

See Also:  Dating with Disabilities: A 4 Step Action Plan to Find the Love You Deserve

More From This Author: 10 Things to Never Say to a Person in a Wheelchair

Photo courtesy of CT Esthetic



About Tiffiny Carlson

Tiffiny Carlson is a writer and quadriplegic from Minneapolis. She has a C6 spinal cord injury from a diving accident when she was 14 years old. Writing and breaking stereotypes is her passion. She's been the SCI Life columnist for New Mobility magazine since 2003 and is the founder of the longtime disability site, Her work has also been featured in Penthouse, Playgirl and And when she's not writing, Tiffiny loves to cook and practice adaptive yoga.

5 Responses

  1. avatar Anonymous says:

    I’m sorry but this is rubbish, it’s simply a list of things that disabled people already know they need, then it lists the benefits with one key bit of information missing: How to accomplish each goal.

    This isn’t a list on how to improve your life, it’s a list of “Here’s ten things you desperately want and have no idea how to achieve, I’ll tell you what you’re missing out on!”.

    Take 5. for example, I don’t have any friends as it is, you’re telling me I need them and that I’ll be happier with them, yet you won’t give me any clue on how to make friends while being disabled? I’ve tried years to make friends and never managed to keep one what do I do?. And how on earth will I make money from my skill? Remember, I’m disabled, I have no idea where to go with my skill or how to put it into practice, I can’t get a job as it is and I can’t get around my village let alone my city, what am I expected to do here? I really don’t mean to cause offence, but this article is horribly incomplete.

    • avatar Raeanne says:

      When I was first disabled, I thought I know nothing about disabilities. So in an effort to become familiar with disabilities, I began volunteering at a local independent living center. There I met my first friend with a disability. (She was blind and I use a wheelchair and was quite insecure with my physical appearance at that time – I needed her to be blind, so that I could trust that she was not judging me for my appearance.) From there, I began going to school, for further education and eventually employment. One thing leads to another. Please don’t give up. I know a disability is frustrating, but not a reason to give up. BTW, I am no longer able to drive a car, so I learned to ride a bus. You just have to be willing to try something new and different from what you used to do.

  2. avatar MC Mobility says:

    People with disabilities should not dwell on the negative side but to see the bright side of life. Thanks for sharing your ideas. Keep it up!

    wheelchair handicapped

  3. [...] See Also: 10 Things People with Disabilities Need to Start Doing Today to Be Happier [...]

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