7 Ways to Be More Positive When Chronically Ill

7 Ways to Be More Positive When Chronically Ill

By Liza Zoellick.

Being positive is not easy when you are looking down a long, dark tunnel of chronic illness, that may not ever get one smidge better. I am acutely aware of this and still, I truly make an effort to be positive because I believe positivity matter in the long run. This is not to say that being positive will cure you, only that I think being positive inspires you and keeps you motivated on days where you just want to give up. And there are going to be days where you just want to give up. But, your mental state can be a game changer and being positive in the face of chronic pain very important. So how do you stay positive when it feels like your body is trying to sabotage you? I think you have to make an effort to be a little bit positive every day. Don’t ask too much from yourself and if you find you fail in your efforts, forgive yourself and try tomorrow. Here are eight ways I keep positive and keep my mental outlook bright.

Liza Zoellick

8.) I BuJo. BuJo is actually short for “bullet journaling.” A Brooklyn-based artistic director, Ryder Carroll, is credited with this new way to jot down ideas and tasks using two old-school tools: pen and paper. It can be as simplistic or artistic as you want. Mine is very minimalistic but I have a page where I jot down positive quotes and inspiring mantras that I look at several times a day.

7.) Post-it notes around the house with reasons to be thankful and reasons to keep positive. As chronic pain patients, we are left to the inside of our heads a lot and that isn’t good. We need to have visual reminders of those things that make us happy and those things that give us reason to live. Buy a colorful array of post-it notes and on them write things like: BFF [insert name], dog or cat or both, family, kids, husband, wife, and anyone who motivates you to live your best life. It doesn’t have to be a living thing either. It could be a passion. Like for me, writing. A hobby you enjoy, for me table-top gaming. You just need visuals to remind you and catch your eye. You don’t want those notes in some obscure corner where you avoid it.

6.) Build yourself a support group. Reach out to those support groups you are already on and see if you can’t build yourself a private little group. Discord and Skype are excellent and you can have group conversations. So is the instant messenger in Facebook, though you have to be a Facebook user. Skype and Discord don’t cost anything to sign up and you can even have group chats live. The people in these groups will become your anchor when you are having a bad day and you will be theirs also.

5.) Become an advocate for patients facing the same issues you are, or simply advocate for the illness you are facing to shed light on it. There is no hard in spreading the word, because the more people are educated about it, the less likely they are to disbelieve us.

4.) The Good Things List. Write down a list of good things, good people and all those things that make you happy and make life worth the difficult times.

3.) Find the Dark side, of humor. Humor really does help distract from not only your situation, but your pain as well. Remind yourself of the funny aspects of chronic illness/pain, like [And I’m no comedian so bear with me]:

  • You really wish there was a Dr. House to determine the underlying cause of all your ailments.
  • Your doctors no longer see you as a patient, but more akin to a colleague because you know more about your illness than they do.
  • You’ve become so knowledgeable in medicine that you have sent friends to the doctor with a preliminary diagnosis only to come back and say you are right and they sit their mystified at what you know. You’d like to start charging for your diagnostics, but it’s frowned upon since you don’t have a license.

2.) Fill your visual with beautiful things. I don’t mean a spending spree for paintings or new décor. What I mean is stepping outside, look at the beauty of nature. Set up a hummingbird feeder, watch how they fly when they hover drinking the nectar. Study the squirrels and butterflies. Look at the snow and ice crystals. Surround yourself with beauty, whatever it might be for you.

1.) Be mindful. Be present. Sometimes being mindful and being present really makes you aware of what you have and how lucky you are. People mistake being mindful for ignoring the difficulties in one’s life, but it’s the opposite. It’s acknowledging the difficulties and pushing through them or making changes in your life to better things.

Liza is a chronic pain warrior from Houston who has been chronicling her journey through chronic pain and illness on her blog: https://lovekarmafood.com. She is a frequent and valued contributor to the National Pain Report.

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Authored by: Liza Zoellick

Liza is a chronic pain warrior from Houston who has been chronicling her journey through chronic pain and illness on her blog: https://lovekarmafood.com. She is a frequent and valued contributor to the National Pain Report.

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I understand and agree re: find something, no matter how small, positive in every single day. Chronic illness, chronic pain is endless torture. And yet, there is something positive in every day. Hugs for healing…


I would add volunteering to the list. Even if you can’t leave your home, there are many virtual volunteer opportunities these days. Not only do you feel needed and connected, you can also share your time and talents with those who need them!

Kimberly: No. I think positivity is about the only thing that keeps us from death. The woman who has inspired me and who has taught me so much of what I know has been fighting cancer for 5 years. And though her outlook is grim, she never stops smiling. She never stops believing she will fight it and beat it. And I think that is everything. We can’t be like her all the time. Some of us are not built that way and I understand. I am not. But finding one thing every day to smile about. That we can do.


I completely agree with this article and believe that positivity can save your life! I have 4 different chronic pain diseases I live with each and every second of every day plus a slipped disc, so my days are hard at best. I am now volunteering at our local food bank only a couple hours a week but enough so that it knocks me on my butt for two days after. The happiness I feel inside my head and heart in doing this even though it causes me tremendous pain, is un-measurable! it helps my depression more than anything else and even though I am disabled, I feel happy I can still be of help to my community! These feelings are so important because when you don’t feel like you can do anything positive, it is hard to keep going. Really important article! Dr’s should tell people this is as important as staying active.


Isn’t there a point were positivity is futile?

Carol Jane

Great blogticle, Liza. I love your ideas!
Thanks, Carol


Thank you so much for your article. You have a good heart! If you’re on this reading this article I’m assuming either you or a loved one is being mentally and physically tortured by the government taking away our medicine. Some of us actually have to have that medicine to live. I would add ask Jesus for God’s forgiveness and give your life to him now. This is the best deal you will ever find in your lifetime and will lead to a forever lifetime. Thank you God. Amen

CRPS Survivor

I love my doctors and pharmacist, they are like family after working together for years.
However I hate to see what is being done to pain Management Doctors these days. My PM Doc is like a saint and he’s palpably afraid for his own future. That’s disgraceful. This is a man who has devoted his life to helping those of us that the rest of the medical profession dreems beyond help. The graveyard of PM is a scary place and now under this administration, they can’t even help their patients.

Sorry to beat the same drum but I fear not only for PM patients now but who will go into that speciality in the future? No one because why should they put up with the threat of hardassment and bullying from the Govt. It’s disgusting.


Love this article. We all have that area where we sit or lay down when the pain gets to us. I try to change my POV by placing artwork or even family heirlooms to look at as focal points. I have two dogs and two cats, as well as a wonderful supportive husband to keep me going through good times and bad. The point you made about us being in our own minds is right on target for me.

Sending you positive thoughts and energy. 🤗


I admire your strength, my dear, because most of my days are like, “oh, dear God, help me right now get through this!!!”
The other thing is this is my first attempt (this blog through NPR), and the comment part after each of their writers’ reports to reach out to the community on line, as I’ve had terrible experiences with Facebook and other media sources. This is not my first comment, and I’ve enjoyed many of what this NPR, and your writings have had to offer.
Thank you, and may God bless you always.

Hi Liza, Asolutely loved the one about going to the doctor and being more of a colleague than a patient. Also the one about diagnosing other people you know, they go to the doctor and come back looking at you like you are a psychic. You started my day off with a smile and I thank you very much! May God bless you with a “One of a Kind” wonderful day!!!