When you are ill, especially with a serious diagnosis, it’s easy to have the sensations and the emotional fallout of it take over your life. You become the illness or the pain. Dealing with it hijacks all your energy. When it feels like that, you may have no other option than to surrender.

Sometimes there will be glimmers of light, a little lift of the burden. When that happens, joy can slip in. Joy is like rivulets of water wearing away stone. If you can send enough joy through the rock of your focus on illness, you will make permanent hollows in it.

The surest road I know to joy is gratitude. If I take a minute to recognize the blessings in my life, I find the corners of my mouth turn up. My energy grows lighter. I forget any symptoms of illness I am carrying. If I label that feeling “joy” then I feel lighter still.

Experiences of awe also invite joy. Those moments when you are struck by beauty and feel connected with something greater. Awe is easy to cultivate by exposing yourself to nature, beauty, and meaningful stories.

Just thinking about joy, I find myself smiling, despite the fact that I am paralyzed from the shoulders down and am experiencing a lot of spasticity in my legs today. Joy lifts me out of my discomfort and away from self-pity.

Joy is available to you regardless of the circumstances. It comes when you call and brightens your life.