Paralysed at 18: My Answer on How to Be Happy in Life

“In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer.”

Albert Camus

Life’s Grand Paradox: Striving for Happiness Amidst Struggles

Hello, I’m Steven Webb. At 18, an unfortunate incident drastically changed my life, leaving me severely paralysed. Since then, my everyday experiences are coloured by a myriad of challenges. I often grapple with autonomic dysreflexia, a life-threatening condition. My personal care routines can be frustratingly complex, especially when carers are unable to meet my particular needs. Over time, I’ve felt this journey towards happiness seeming like an improbable mountain, a task I doubted I could ever conquer.

And yet, here I am. I am happy, most of the time. Yes, I have my fair share of overwhelming moments, bouts of depression, and bouts of loneliness. But these do not define my overall existence. I always find myself returning to the magical reality of being alive.

The Life Rollercoaster: Embracing Life’s Ups and Downs

Life has given me a fair share of trials. There were times when my pain was so intense that I contemplated suicide. How, you may ask, did I manage to find happiness amidst all of this? My secret lies in my perception of life. I see it as an incredible experience full of highs and lows, joyous peaks, and challenging valleys. But that’s what life is all about. It’s an experience, a series of changing emotions and events. This realization prompted me to question the conventional understanding of happiness. To ask ‘how to be happy in life’ implies an inherent unhappiness.

“To live fully, we must learn to find joy not just in life’s peaks, but also in its valleys.”

Steven Webb

The Paradox of Pursuit: Finding Happiness in Letting Go

If your goal is to be happy, it seems that you’ve already missed the mark. The quest for constant happiness and the act of being happy are not the same. It’s like the wise Yoda once said, “There is no try, just do.” So, take a moment, a deep breath, and embrace the contentment in the here and now. Strive for experiences of happiness, but do not mistake them for a continuous, unchanging state.

The irony is, once you cease this endless pursuit of happiness, you find yourself inherently happy. I wouldn’t classify myself as overly positive. I oscillate between realism and optimism, experiencing negative thoughts and feelings along the way. However, these are not hindrances, but parts of life’s rich tapestry. Without negativity, we wouldn’t recognize positivity. How would we know joy without pain, love without grief?

The Mundane Miracle: Appreciating Everyday Life

If you’ve been chasing the question of ‘how to be happy in life’, it’s time to shift your perspective. Instead of viewing happiness as a goal, embrace it as a fleeting experience. Our moments of joy, our contentment, lie in the mundane tasks we often overlook. Doing the dishes, answering a phone call from a friend, or simply going about our day — these are the moments when we are truly alive.

In times of trouble, we yearn for these ordinary moments. Yet, when life is blissful — such as the exhilarating throes of first love — we cling to that feeling of joy, only to feel unhappy when we realize its ephemeral nature. However, the beauty of life lies in these fluctuations. Happiness is not a destination, but an experience that ebbs and flows.

Person in wheelchair finding happiness in everyday life Sunrise Canyon

“The magic of life lies not in the pursuit of constant happiness, but in the appreciation of its fleeting nature.” – Steven Webb

Rethinking Happiness: Embracing Life As It Comes

So, let’s drop the question of ‘how to be happy in life?’ and acknowledge that happiness, in its truest form, cannot be attained but experienced. When we learn to appreciate the highs and lows, the mundane and the extraordinary, we realize we already possess everything we need for a content and happy life. This is my journey, and I invite you to join me on this path towards embracing life as it is — a beautiful blend of experiences, woven together to create our unique tapestries of existence.

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You've just read an article by Steven Webb —  Guiding you through the most difficult times. Here is a link to my podcast Stillness in the Storms and Inner Peace Meditations.

I write to arm you with resilience and inner wisdom, helping you find calm in life’s chaos. Follow me Medium or on substack.

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Steven Webb

Steven Webb is a renowned meditation teacher with over a decade of experience. Known for his unique approach to quieting the busy mind, Steven navigated through a life of adversity to find his own inner peace. Now, he shares his wisdom to help others build resilience and find tranquility even in life's most turbulent times. Through his writing, courses, and podcast "Stillness in the Storms," Steven empowers people to discover their own sanctuary of inner peace when they need it the most.
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