when chronic illness steals your peace and happiness: how do I get my joy back?
Chronic Illness

When chronic illness steals your peace and happiness: How do I get my joy back?

Being “happy” is an interesting concept.

I was recently watching a video on TikTok in which a guy asked random people, “Are you happy?” I was reflecting on how I would answer that question, because concepts like joy and happiness are very intricate to me. I can be happy with certain aspects of my life, but unhappy with others. But, how do I know how I am feeling about my life in general? What are the aspects of life that are most important to me?

For each person, happiness means something different. We all have different ideas of what makes a good life. I think it is important to think about what makes you happy. What makes you smile? What brings you peace and contentment?

Oftentimes, we can tell that something is missing, but we might not know what. Figuring out what improves our quality of life is part of the journey. But, it is a really fun journey, because you can constantly discover more about yourself and what makes you unique.

There’s a lot of pressure to show others that we are “happy” or to reach an unattainable goal of being happy all the time. The reality of life is that no one is going to be happy 100% of the time. But, we can strive to bring joy into our lives and bring ourselves peace.

peace comes from within

How do I get my joy back?

When health issues arise, it can be devastating. In one day, your world can come crashing down. To me, one of the worst parts is that I have no control over it. I can’t just make it go away, and I can’t predict how it will affect my life in the future.

Before my diagnosis, the constant illness was crippling. I felt as though everything was taken from me. Functioning in daily life suddenly became a chore, and I stopped being excited about anything. I woke up every day feeling physically terrible, and my mental health was deteriorating.

I am extremely lucky that treatment has helped me physically, but I still experience some bouts of terrible illness, usually for about a month at a time. When I catch an illness, it often comes on very suddenly. Before I know it, I’m miserable and can barely leave my room.

In these moments, I tend to feel like I won’t be happy again. I still have moments where I smile, laugh, and enjoy myself, but it’s just not the same. Many times, I have felt like a shell of a human.

However, enduring these hard times repeatedly have taught me how to become myself again and rediscover joy.

Here are some of my tips:

  • Take out a journal and think about the happiest times in your life. Brainstorm how you can recreate those moments, even if you can’t recreate the circumstances.
  • When you’re sick, think about what brings you comfort, no matter how trivial it is. Gossip Girl is my favorite show ever, and it brings me so much comfort and nostalgia. I love to throw it on when I am sick in bed. I also love to eat my favorite foods. I won’t make myself feel guilty for spending money on having food delivered.
  • Stop putting pressure on yourself to live a life that will impress others. If something is stealing your peace, let it go and move on from it!
  • Understand that you can’t control your chronic illness or make it go away, so you have to build your life around it. Accept that life looks a little different than you might have thought, and that’s okay.
  • Find things that make you laugh! Remember not to take life so seriously.
don't put pressure on yourself to live a life that will impress others. do what makes you happy

I also love this article from Harvard Health, How can you find joy (or at least peace) during difficult times? Check it out!

I am by no means a happiness guru, but I have learned a lot from these past four years of battling chronic illness. I know what it’s like to be deep in the darkness, and it breaks my heart for everyone that has to endure chronic health problems.

You will get your joy back!

It can be hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but when you focus on fostering a strong mindset, you can rediscover joy. And, as I always say, don’t be afraid to reach out to others if you’re struggling.

give yourself grace

More from Aubrey With Grace

Battling Negative Thoughts As A Young Adult



  • Susan

    I think there’s different levels of happiness. At the bottom is satisfaction, followed by contentment. Then there’s a peaceful and quietly happy, a truly happy, and at the top, there’s joy. For me, anywhere from peaceful, quietly happy to joy are the levels we should want to achieve.

  • thred

    We like to talk about the term Collateral Beauty…that even in the midst of hard times there can be, and are, moments of beauty. Grateful you’ve found joy <3

  • Marijana Čuvalo

    Happiness for me is tied to the things that bring me joy. It took me a long time to understand that and to uncover the things that brought me joy. Before, I was always happy for others, now I am happy for them but most importantly, for the things that bring me joy.

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