hope happens

Being positive in a crazy, mixed-up world

Being a positive person living with a chronic, progressive disease sounds like an oxymoron. Is it even possible to do both at the same time? Some would say it can’t be done. They would say that life becomes too full of uncertainties, pain and complications that there is no way to face it with a positive attitude. But it can be done and is being done by thousands of people every day.

How is that even possible? How can anyone keep a positive attitude while facing constant difficult times?

I think we have to first determine what being positive actually means. The word positive has been misunderstood and improperly defined for far too long…so much so that it has been an impossibility for many to attain a positive life in the midst of hardship.

Being positive has nothing to do with how many jokes you can tell, how funny you are, or laughing all the time. It’s not about living in an I Love Lucy episode or a Three Stooges world. It’s not about hiding from the reality of what you are dealing with and trying to cover up the struggle in an attempt to keep people from knowing you’re hurting. Hard times are real. Tears happen. Pain hurts. No amount of covering it up or denying its existence is going to make it go away or lessen its troubles. Let me tell you what it means to be a positive person while living with a chronic illness.

Being positive means that even when you are facing the darkest storm of your life, you get out of bed to face the day. Even though pain has you doubled over in tears, you keep going. Even when your brain is foggy and your thoughts get all muddled, you push through. Even when your life has flipped upside-down, inside-out and stays in a constant tilt, you keep fighting because you simply refuse to be defeated.

The tears flow, tempers rise, thoughts rage, and confusion happens. But through it all, you find a tiny ray of sunlight, a smile, a bit of hope to cling to.

You see, it’s alright to have negative thoughts when your path bends the wrong way or the unexpected happens. Don’t beat yourself up when negative feelings, thoughts, or even words creep into your life. You haven’t done anything wrong. That’s just a part of being human. It’s okay to be real. It’s okay to feel. The challenge is to not let those negative things grab hold of you and keep you from actually living.

Being positive is about allowing yourself to feel all those crazy, mixed-up things yet hoping for a better tomorrow…and sometimes a better next 5 minutes. Hope doesn’t just happen…it’s made.

MS Gets on My NervesMS WarriorMS Superhero  


About the Author
About the Author
Penelope Conway

Penelope Conway
Penelope started Positive Living with MS as a way to help others with MS stay positive in the midst of a terrible disease. She believes that staying positive and holding onto hope is the key to waking up each morning with the strength to get through the day. Multiple Sclerosis may never go away, but neither will her determination and her drive to help others through the journey.

11 replies
  1. Sandra
    Sandra says:

    Thank you for keeping the conversation going….for letting others reach out with their thoughts. Without the realization that other are out there and get it ….you can feel alone. It is important that you and we are not alone on this journey. Thank you for all that you do to help others. Is this not the journey that we should truly be on.

  2. Rodger Ashton-Smith
    Rodger Ashton-Smith says:

    That’s nice to know and do. I see that being positive is getting over all the problems we have and using them for growth not destruction. I have had many falls ,many break downs, a few major accidents and other ‘bad’ things happen. ButI am using them to finding a better way to live,a better way to deal with them and learn from them. Too many people treat MS as a ‘sickness’ rather than a ‘disability’ which I would rather see.

  3. Rachel
    Rachel says:

    Perfectly said from the 1st word to the last!! Thank you Penelope for all that you do to keep us all connected, & all so ‘real’!!

  4. Jan Hoback Jasper says:

    Penelope, you wrote an amazing story/article/booklet! My hope is that people WITHOUT MS would accept the challenge to read your story. That would give them a change to understand something they never really will, and also a chance to show kindness to anyone that does have this dreaded disease! GREAT JOB, Penelope! 🙂 <3

  5. Leslie Beaver says:

    For me, it is very simple. It is all about what you chose to focus on. YOU! Your choice. A small example. I walk every day. I could focus on the difficulties presented by the broken pavement and my drop foot. Or the balance challenges. Even with my cane. Or the fatigue. But I chose instead to focus on the positives. Like the people I meet and the kind words exchanged. Or the dogs out for walks. Who now know me by sight and pull to greet me. Or my stronger calf muscles. Which would be the envy of many. Or the lovely fall weather. Or … You get the point. It is in my control what I chose to think about. Entirely. And I chose to be happy.

  6. Leah
    Leah says:

    So true. Thanking you again and again and again for your words of wisdom, words of inspiration, words of truth, words that are heartfelt, words of power, words of kindness, words of motivation, and most definitely words of positivity. Have a wonderful day Penelope!:)

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