It turns out that you can teach yourself to be happy – even when you live with vitiligo. And even more, you can use happiness to your advantage as a way to cope with the struggles of living with this condition.
In May 2011, psychologist and CEO of Good Think Inc. Shawn Achor presented a Ted Talk called “The happy secret to better work.” Before you think this doesn’t relate to vitiligo, let me expand on his definition of “work.” Shawn talked about success in all facets of life – including superior resiliency when facing difficult challenges. And I think it’s safe to say that those with vitiligo face their fair share of challenges.
Using happiness to cope with vitiligo
So what is the happiness advantage and how does it work? Short and sweet, Shawn explained that our external world doesn’t actually influence our happiness. Rather, it’s the lens through which we view the world that shapes us.
“90% of your long term happiness is predicted not by the external world but by the way your brain processes the world,” said Shawn. He went on to explain how when you are able to be more positive, your brain works smarter and harder, giving you a ‘happiness advantage.’
When you live with vitiligo, it can be easy to be frustrated by the external facets of life that you can’t control – like our skin. Yet Shawn gives us good news. By choosing to be positive, we can actually increase our brain’s ability to handle the difficult aspects of a life with spots.
Training Your Brain to Be More Positive
So can you actually teach yourself to be more positive? The answer is yes, with a little time and dedication. Shawn shared that doing any of the following activities for just a 2 minute span of time for 21 days in a row can actually rewire your brain, helping you become more resilient:
Write down 3 new things you are grateful for – in order to train your brain to seek the positive things in life instead of focusing on the negative.
Journal about one positive experience you’ve had in the past 24 hours – to allow your brain to relive the happy experience you’ve had in the past day.
Exercise – to teach your brain that your behavior matters.
Meditate – to overcome the ADHD sensation of multitasking by focusing for a few minutes.
Do a random act of kindness – to thank your social network for the positive things they’ve added to your life.
Will you use happiness to your advantage?
Erika Page is the Founder and Editor of Living Dappled. After getting vitiligo at the age of seven, she lost 100% of her pigment to the condition and today lives with universal vitiligo.