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7 Daily Happiness Questions (When Injured or Sick)

The need for daily happiness is consistently at the top of most people’s desires. However, illness, injury, loss, catastrophe, and chronic low-grade stress can easily drain our life of fulfillment and contentment. I believe, however, that a health condition, and the care involved, can allow us to love ourselves anew without abandoning happiness.

I’ve had short-term injuries and other typical minor illnesses, but it took me a few years of strenuous battle with Lyme disease before I realized that I had become deft at daily acknowledging my misery. The stress of my condition had besieged any sense of joy. That is when I decided to bring some bit of happiness back into my life, and my daily 7 Happiness Questions were a guide.


The seven daily happiness questions reflect known happiness drivers in life: Peace, Beauty, Joy, Gratitude, Positive Reinforcement, Self-respect, and Kindness.

  1. What form of peace and serenity did I give myself?
  2. What did I see or reflect upon as beautiful, lovely or inspiring?
  3. What moments of pure unexpected joy did I experience?
  4. What made me feel grateful?
  5. What praise or positive feedback did I receive, in any way?
  6. What proud moments of achievement did I have today?
  7. How did I express kindness or benevolent outpouring?

At first, I struggled to answer with any positive experiences. We all know what that is like — we are so serious about our health situation that any release of this tension seems impossible. However, the point is to simply check-in with any of the questions and offer reflection.

For my own prolonged bout with Lyme, a happiness question became like a daily affirmation echoing this truth: just a simple joy can be life affirming and diminish any besiege of doubt and despair. Did you get that? Just a sprinkling of happiness may be the necessary window of our hope for the day!

What form of peace and serenity did I give myself?

Let me introduce the word “sanctuary” when convalescing. Sanctuary suggests a feeling of peace and serenity, a place of safety, comfort, and creative reflection. It can be a special location or even a state of mind. The idea is to create a peaceful state to remove tensions, worries, and the like.

My favorite place of indoor sanctuary when injured is a comfortable chair with a view into nature. It feels even more special when I drape a favorite meditation shawl around me while listening to calming music. Outdoors I relish a small spot in the sun for a half hour next to a fountain. At night, my special soul sanctuary is playing my guitar by candlelight and incense. Early in the morning, I seek sanctuary in meditation, followed by photography or sketching a Celtic knot or tangle. Each of these experiences revitalizes me, transports me briefly away from the discomfort of my injury.

Do you have a special way to create an “island of grace” within your environment for daily happiness — simply to rejuvenate your spirit while your body is healing? Do you have the support of others to do so?

What did I see or reflect upon as beautiful, lovely or inspiring?

Our illness or injury often creates a serious outlook in our pursuit of solutions to deal with this inconvenience in our life. This is quite normal. However, a wonderful counterweight to such serious responsibility is to behold beauty and to reflect upon its value in our life: To see a world in a grain of sand . . . And eternity in an hour (William Blake).

In my place of healing sanctuary by the window, I get to witness that which is lovely: a sunbeam suddenly piercing the forest to shine light on a flower. Be it small or dramatic, an object or animal, or simply a sweet human gesture like a smile — each can uplift and allow us to stay in touch with loveliness.

There are many ways to be inspired by beauty. For the bedridden, perhaps nature videos, books, or music allow awe and wonder to be experienced. My favorite reading companion when injured is Rumi, who always inspires me in his poems to find that extra effort to see life more hopefully and lovingly.

How do you perceive beauty everyday — in the people you relate to, your surroundings, nature, animals, readings, faith? Do you see it in objects, places, expressions, and peoples’ kind intentions? It’s there!

What moments of pure unexpected joy did I experience?

When you think about it, life is simply a daily flow of spontaneous experiences and events. It is hard to imagine we could control anything that happens! A health condition gets us in touch with that reality as we try to seriously direct healing efforts. However, nothing rules out spontaneous joy (tiny or huge) appearing throughout our day.

What about something that unexpectedly delights us? Something simple and soothing will do for me, as when a ray of warm sunlight through the window lands on my sprained wrist! Or, when my cat suddenly nestles especially close to me. Or, when I hear an old favorite love song of my teen years on my bedside radio when down with the flu. Or, the dense fog surprisingly giving way to the sun. Or, the sudden sweet smell of cooking wafting up from downstairs. What unexpected small joys!

An injury can turn our life into a tragedy. But if we stay open to unexpected delight, life may be seen more as a tragic comedy. Look for and experience the small bit of pleasure, even if it only causes a slight chuckle or smile. Does your day have “sweet spots” that are uplifting or simply delightful?

What made me feel grateful?

Ah, gratitude — the immediate joy of feeling alive and worthy and thankful for life and health! Yes, we may have gratitude for our health practitioners, medications, and support from others. But I am talking about grateful reflections in the day that support the rest of one’s spirit.

When feeling most miserable with Lyme, I would consciously watch my breath come and go out of my nose (a key meditation technique); this simple gesture gave me the deepest gratitude for being alive. When injured with a strained hand and unable to play guitar, I studied its aatomy thoroughly, marveling at, and grateful for this amazing body! More simply, reflection upon a cold glass of fresh water can yield tremendous gratitude for this precious resource, and compassion for those who struggle to acquire it for daily survival.

What are you grateful for in the larger picture? Now, consider how you build gratitude into your day in the little ways it is important to acknowledge — these are the fine brush strokes of thankfulness.

Create a place or time each day to simply be peaceful with your thoughts.

What praise or positive feedback did I receive, In Any Way?

Happiness often depends upon approval — an acknowledgment of worthy effort, play, or joy. Positive reinforcement at any age is important for self-growth and motivation. It is especially important during convalescence. Just a simple comment from someone who says “you look like your moving a little better than yesterday” can be a shining light of affirmative joy in our day!

A health condition can be like a personal dark hole, and the only way out is receiving positive feedback or praise. Let’s face it, however, there are often “dry” days when we simply do not receive adequate positive feedback. That’s okay, because you can give it to yourself! For me, it is as simple as letting my “inner voice” (people may refer to it as one’s True or Higher Self, Inner Child, Spirit Guide, Guardian Angel, God, etc.) congratulate me for my efforts: “Nice job, Forrest, keep it up!”

In what ways do you receive positive feedback each day? How are you affected? What forms of personal positive feedback (self-praise) do you give yourself?

What proud moments of achievement did I have?

Receiving positive feedback from others is important, but when healing from an injury, our own perception of achievement is vital. In life, most of our achievements are silent victories, unbeknownst to others as to their significance. This is undoubtedly true in health restoration, too.

Finding temporary relief from arthritic pain that allows us to open a jar may feel victorious. In my case with Lyme, the small daily achievement of successfully shaping my arthritic fingers back into chords on my guitar was glorious!

There are many proud “I can do it” moments in your healing day to discover. Don’t just focus on your health condition for achievements. Creatively challenge yourself each day to do something, however large or small it is that makes YOU feel proud.

Receiving positive feedback from others is important, but when healing from an injury, our own perception of achievement is vital. In life, most of our achievements are silent victories, unbeknownst to others as to their significance. This is undoubtedly true in health restoration, too.

How did I express kindness or benevolent outpouring?

I strongly believe that in giving we receive, and the necessary action is kindness, benevolence and compassion. A very simple and thoughtful act toward another being, human or animal, or even nature can lift us out of our own health concern, even if momentarily. Just a sincere Thank you will do for many.

Random acts of kindness are even more unexpected from an injured or sick person, but that is what makes it more special because of the felt joy of giving back.

While laid up with bruised ribs, I learned how to draw a lovely Celtic knot on some blank cards. I feel a sweet personal joy giving a card away as a simple kind gesture. Sometimes, when immobile from a sports injury, I will call a friend over and give them a private guitar performance, to their surprise and delight. Injured, sick, or healthy and well — I am devoted to expressing kindness and compassion everyday, even if it is simply a silent prayer or affirmation for another.

How do you integrate kind acts in your day when injured or sick? In what ways do you think less of your own situation, and more compassionately about others?

Journal Your Happiness

Let’s face it, it is easy to overlook the things that are going right and give us a lift. Therefore, to take a small amount of time to reappraise our day can slowly allow our mind to eventually find more reasons to be happy. This is what my 7 Daily Happiness Questions did for me in a matter of 15 minutes or so as I journaled my reflections.

The benefit of journaling your happiness comes from the immediate sense of inner uplift upon writing your entries. However, re-reading previous entries can also help to cope with difficult situations in the future; they can act as positive springboards back towards happiness.

Of course, checking-in daily with your mental frame of mind is important to self-care. Just remember that amidst the seriousness you give toward healing from an injury, make room for reflecting upon the efforts you make to allow happiness and joy to continue to flow into your life.

Note: Although I identified my happiness questions many years ago, the concept is not new and in fact an important part of journaling. For example, the work of Dr. Sandi Mann, University of Central Lancashire, asks very similar happiness questions.

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While we can’t give health advice of any kind, we sure do know a lot about herbs and are happy to speak with you at any time about their properties and proper usage.

Blessings of Health.

Forrest McDowell

C. Forrest McDowell, PhD provides his 50 years of expertise in wellness care and advocacy to Cortesia Herbal Products. He is responsible for the white paper Blog articles, posts promoting practical health strategies, maintenance of accurate website information, and more. An accomplished performing guitarist and composer, author, and passionate outdoorsman, he has dedicated himself to natural wellness and the cultivation of quality organic products.

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