Finding Joy after trauma

Is it possible to find joy again after suffering trauma? The simple answer is yes, but it’s not necessarily easy.

First, you must decide to find joy again. It won’t magically appear. You can’t go from victim to vitality unless you decide to.

Second, you can’t hide from it and act like nothing happened. You can’t force your loved ones to be happy. Happiness is internal. You have to design it yourself. Stuffing the pain will eventually manifest in your health and mental and physical health as well. You have to choose to be happy for yourself.

You must realize that you have a right to be happy again. It is okay to be happy. Sometimes, all we can do is put one foot in front of the other and repeat this mantra.

“Every day and every way, I’m getting better and better.” 

– Norman Vincent Peele.

You see, deep within the recesses of our mind attic, we have this dusty old trunk that I call the trauma trunk. We like to hide it away and act like it doesn’t exist. But we have to open that trunk and sit with it. We can’t fight it or throw it away. It has been nailed down to the floor with extreme emotion. What happened was not okay. But you must be able to say I choose to be okay. We must sit with it, mourn the loss, and then detach the emotional response. Every time the lid is opened, we slowly rewrite the trauma story into a survivor story and a thriver one.

Don’t get sucked back into the trauma cycle. You see, every time we rehash the trauma, our body reacts the same way it did when it occurred. Our body goes through the same trauma cycle. Our brain sends out stress hormones to our body. Our body is filled with cortisol and adrenaline. Our organs start shutting down. The fight or flight response kicks in. Damage starts happening to our internal organs. Our cells stop reproducing. All of this happens every time we continue to rehash the trauma. So yes, talking about what happened is important, but after a certain point, we must get to where we can stop rehashing the story and move past it. Our body needs us to.

We need to learn to speak joy. Think of joy and let joy return to us. We need to stop watching depressing things. Stop listening to depressing music; for heaven’s sake, do not isolate.

Lol – Laughter Therapy

It supposedly means laugh out loud. Some people think it’s lots of love, but my daughter thinks it’s these little 2-in tall dolls with big eyes.

Whatever L.O.L. means to you, I intend to change your concept of L.O.L. before the end of this blog post.

Have you ever heard of the phrase laughter therapy? Webster’s dictionary defines it as a humor-induced hormonal intervention to reduce stress and anxiety. I bet that’s as clear as mud, right? Let me break it down for you.

Laughter therapy is intentionally making yourself laugh even when you feel like crap—knowing that your body will fill full of happy hormones and push out some of the stress hormones when you do this. It is actively taking time every day to laugh.

I have been setting an alarm on my cell phone that repeats daily. It goes off twice a day to remind me to watch something funny. I’ve been watching a lot of stand-up comedy. Some of it sucks. I’ll be honest, but some people out there just have the gift of laughter. They make me laugh so hard my face hurts. There is some complex science behind this, but I won’t bore you. I will tell you from a real-world perspective this stuff works. Every day I engage in laughter therapy, I am a whole lot better human to be around. My outlook is better. I feel better, and my day seems to go better.

You need to understand that happiness is a choice. It is not a result. Nothing will make you happy until you choose to be happy. I believe Ralph Marston said that. We need to understand that laughing swaps the cortisol in our system with dopamine, oxytocin, and endorphins. So, it makes us feel better in that moment.

Let me give you some facts about laughter. Then you can decide if it will be worth your time to laugh daily.

  • Laughter is a natural painkiller
  • Laughter strengthens the heart and boosts your immune system
  • Laughter is contagious
  • Laughter works as an antidepressant
  • Laughter creates bonds between people and increases intimacy with others
  • Laughter reduces blood pressure
  • Laughter increases your T cells, which are the backbone of your immune system.
  • Laughter therapy has been known to help recovering addicts
  • In the case of Norman Cousins, laughter therapy helped him heal and walk out of the hospital when he was doomed to die

So, How much comedy do you watch? How many funny cat videos can you watch? Whatever makes you laugh. I won’t tell you what your sense of humor should be. I’m just saying do something to make yourself laugh at least twice daily. Your body will thank you later.

So L.O.L. people. L.O.L. at least twice a day!

Humans have a hidden superpower. With it we can both create and destroy. In most people it is raw, unfiltered and troublesome. But, if we could train it and hone it to perfection, it is powerful enough to change the world.
There’s a wise old saying that says, “for as a man thinketh in his heart so is he.” What does that mean, exactly? It means you become what you think about regularly. Your consistent thoughts become your actions, and your actions change the reality around you. I know this sounds like a bunch of hoodoos, but I promise you there’s science behind it.
What if we trained our minds to create instead of to destroy? We could change the world with one mind at a time.

Never Lose Your Edge

I heard one of the greatest allegories at a little rural church in the Ozarks. In the middle of his message, the guest preacher dropped this little story.

Two men were out chopping wood. One was an old man.  The other was young and egotistical. He challenged the old man to a race, knowing he was younger and twice as strong. Surprisingly, the old man accepted.

Laughing, the younger man tore into cutting wood as fast as he could. It was powerful to see how hard the young man worked.

The old man chopped steadily, but he would stop every little bit, sit down, and sharpen his ax again. Every time, the young man would laugh at him. The man wouldn’t say a word. He would just sharpen and then get back to work.

By the end of the day, the young man was in for a surprise. The old man had chopped almost twice as much wood as the young man. The young man was furious.

“How in the world did you beat me? I was swinging twice as hard and twice as fast.” 

The older man just smiled and sat down to sharpen his ax. He let the young guy stew around for a while. Finally, the young man calmed down and asked him again.

“What did I do wrong?”

“You didn’t do anything wrong. You are the best wood chopper I’ve ever seen. I could never compete with you in strength, but I kept my ax head sharp. You must keep your edge sharp, son. Never lose your edge.”

Wow. The preacher went on to talk about other things, and I’m not quite sure how they tied into the story. But this story hit me so hard. I had to write it down and share it with you guys. What a lesson!

 How many of you guys have gotten tired and stopped sharpening your edge? I know I have lately.

This girl’s going to sit down and sharpen that ax. I’m getting my edge back. How about you?

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