As I sit here working on this article my 4-year-old son hangs out with me with a little cold and fever. I keep telling him he needs some medicine but all he has said since he got out of bed is "I'm better now. I'm all better." How much does our attitude effect how well we deal with our illness and our level of happiness?
Everyone copes with challenges in their lives in different ways. For those who are diagnosed with a chronic illness they may put on a happy face and literally decide they will use this as a dare to succeed, constantly trying to overcome any limitations it sets forth. Others will drive home from the doctor's office wondering how much longer they will be able to drive because of the pain. They'll flop down on the couch and rarely roam from it for years. What is it that makes some people thrive despite their chronic illness and others simply survive and use it as an excuse for everything that goes wrong?
People who live with an illness and still radiate happiness and joyfulness for life have some things in common. None of us cope with our illness perfectly, so even if we tend to deal with it well, there is likely a tip below that we could use to improve our outlook on life.
Happy people who live with illness have the following in common:
 They possess hope. Research has shown that hope actually increases the speed at which people recover from surgery. Hope is vital and a necessary step in finding contentment despite our circumstances. The 2006 theme of National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week was "My illness is invisible but my hope shines through." We all should live with this attitude.
 They persevere and keep going no matter what. Living with a chronic illness is painful! Emotionally, physically, and spiritually it has the ability to quickly drain our strength and spirit. Our health is one of the main things we depend on to help us conquer our dreams, even referring to the saying, "At least you have your health!" But people who live with chronic pain and still are happy have learned to persist in reaching for their dreams, or even re-examining their dreams in order to create new ones. At times, the news goals can be more exhausting than the original ones, but passion can create a lot of adrenaline.
 They are good advocates of their own health. Paul J. Donoghue and Mary E. Siegel, authors of "Sick and Tired of Feeling Sick and Tired," write "Getting this help in a consistently satisfying manner is as essential as it is challenging. You will need perseverance, courage and skill. You will need to understand your needs and be committed to getting them" (p. 160). People who take part in the decision making process on the topic of their care and treatment, and who actively hunt for out doctors who will partner with them, are more happy than those who feel out of control. For example, if it's one's desire to have children it's important to have a medical team that will understand this desire and provide good treatment even if they don't agree with your decision, rather than reprimand you by giving you poor care.
 They don't play the victim role. They say "Why not me?" rather than "Why me?" To form this attitude can take time if it doesn't come naturally. But by being involved with organizations that serve people who are ill, have cancer, or who have left abusive homes--whatever your passions are--you will begin to understand that this world is not perfect. When things are going right in their lives, they recognize it as a blessing, not a right.
 They understand who they are and so aren't overly sensitive, taking other's comments too personally. If one has a strong faith this can make everything much simpler because one understands her value and worth as a person doesn't count on what she can accomplish with her physical strength. She learns what she is accountable for (like an attitude) and not (like an infection that keeps returning). This can help keep away unnecessary guilt for things out of her power.
 They communicate adeptly. Being able to talk with others, explain your feelings, learning to listen effectively, and watching your words carefully, can help you avoid a lot of troubles. Misunderstandings, hurt feelings, and arguments can affect your whole life and your body's capacity to cope with an illness. One must learn to manage bitterness and focus on healthy relationships. Happy people with illness are good at understanding when to talk about their illness and how much to share about their personal lives.
 They sincerely care about other people. Your illness may not have been the education you had hoped to get, but people who are happy see their experiences as a gift of knowledge. They can share their ups and downs, and struggles and successes with others who are going through challenging experiences and need a friend or mentor. To truly find happiness, we must search outside of ourselves and reach out to other people.
J.K. Rowling, author, once said, "It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities." This quote is perhaps one of the most wonderful examples of a good attitude for those with chronic illness.