Piano painted with unicorn in sky and mermaid on beach with text overlay: What Kind of Music Will You Play? Attitude and Chronic Illness

What Kind of Music Will You Play? Attitude and Chronic Illness

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The piano you see above is one of the things I love about our city. Each Spring, these lovely painted pianos show up all over town and just beg to be played by anyone who wants to play them.

The pianos are donated and taken to local schools, where they’re given new life. Students, under the supervision of their art teachers, paint them in whatever theme they choose. After they’re painted the pianos are tuned and delivered to their temporary homes on the sidewalks of our city. You never know when you might be treated to a beautiful concert as you’re out doing your errands.

For me, these pianos are a reminder that we can make something beautiful out of even the most rundown things. They certainly weren’t in the best shape of their lives or they probably wouldn’t have been donated. With a little work and care, though, they’ve become something beautiful and useful again.

Sometimes, life with Fibromyalgia or another chronic illness can be like those old pianos. We may feel our bodies are failing us, that we are no longer useful, that we’re out of key…. BUT with a little work and care, our lives can take on a new look, we can gain a new sense of purpose, and we can ‘make beautiful music.’

It really all comes down to choice.

We can choose to be the old, worn-out piano that plays discordant notes (choosing negativity, allowing ourselves to take on a ‘victim’ mindset, or becoming perpetually angry because of our circumstances).

or

We can accept that we have a new normal now, and work within that new normal. We can get a fresh coat of paint (choose a ‘victor’ mentality) and a tune-up (learning to work with our bodies) and become a new version of our old selves.

I’m not saying life with chronic illness is going to be easy, or that we can just ‘positive think’ our pain away. What I’m saying is that we have a choice about how we’re going to respond to it.

Kahlil Gibran Attitude Quote

Our attitude makes all the difference in whether we are able to flourish or whether we fail to thrive.

Let’s be realistic here and realize that with a chronic illness we’re not going to have a positive attitude all the time, and that’s okay. We also need to realize, though, that if we adopt a perpetually negative attitude, it has the ability to completely incapacitate us.

So how do we fight this negative attitude when our bodies are making it hard not to be negative? Here are a few things I’ve found helpful:

  • Try not to focus on the negative. It’s important to process the negative emotions that are a part of the chronic illness experience. We need to allow those feelings and work our way through them, but we know that what we give most of our attention to is what grows. Negativity breeds negativity.
  • Look at what you can do. Concentrating on what we can do rather than what we can’t can help us keep moving forward and keep us from dwelling on our limitations.
  • Keep a gratitude journal. Taking the time each evening to write down three things we’re thankful for can help us realize how much we really do have to be thankful for.
  • Ask “What can I learn from this?” We can choose to learn from our experiences, which can often help us reframe them.  We can then use those lessons to help improve our lives.
  • Find a way to help others. It’s hard to feel sorry for ourselves when we’re helping other people, and being a blessing to others often ends up blessing us as well.
  • Work within your strengths. Figuring out what we’re good at and are able to consistently do can help us achieve small victories that build on each other. This can help us feel better about ourselves and about our lives as a whole.

When we live with Fibromyalgia or another chronic illness, we don’t have a choice about how we feel physically. A positive attitude is not going to make our illness go away.

We do get to choose our attitudes about what happens. Are we going to choose to be that old, discordant piano, or are we going to choose to make beautiful music with our lives? It’s all up to us.

Have you found attitude to be important in living well with a chronic illness? What are your tips for avoiding a negative mindset? Please share!

Blessings,

~Terri

23 comments

    1. Thanks so much Deborah! I love music as well. It has the ability to touch us when nothing else can. Hope you’re doing well!

  1. Yes. I agree that music can inspire us in such a positive way. It is cathartic for me.

    Also, helping others is a great motivator. One can’t help but feel their spirit lifted when “doing unto others…” It takes our mind off ourself, and reminds us that we are not alone.

    Thanks, Terri

    1. Thanks for sharing Kim! I agree 100% that helping others can take our mind off of what we’re going through. There are lots of times that I’m in pain, but it kind of fades into the background when I’m doing something for someone else. Hope you’re doing well!

    1. Thanks so much Tim! I’ve been feeling so discouraged by all the negativity around me lately that I needed to remind myself that I get to choose my attitude too. Sending love and hugs to you and your beautiful wife!

  2. Attitude does help. Thank you for acknowledging that attitude is not a cure. I’m in a trip. I feel like crap, but am able to manage so far with help. I am actually enjoying myself!! 🥰

    1. Thanks for sharing Ruth! I’m so glad to hear that you’re enjoying yourself on your trip. Travel can be difficult when we’re ill, but it can also be a great break from our normal routine and lift our spirits. Hope you enjoy the rest of your trip. Sending hugs your way!

    1. Thanks so much for thinking of me Mishka! I’m more than honored! Sending a big hug your way!

  3. Great post Terri! Attitude in chronic illness is all important…as it just doesn’t have a mental health impact it also impacts our physical, emotional & spiritual health!
    I keep my focus on the positives in my life no matter how small they may be at any given time, while I work with the new norm for me 😀

    My Tip;
    Be kind to yourself in self care, don’t get frustrated with yourself it’s counterproductive. If you need a rest day have one! 😉
    Bless you,
    Jennifer

    1. Thanks so much for your kind words Jennifer, and thank you for sharing some great tips! I just think avoiding that negativity trap is so important for our wellbeing; as you said, our attitude affects everything. Hope you’re doing well sweet friend. Blessings to you!

  4. First, what a fabulous idea! Painting old pianos! Great for the student, the community, AND who doesn’t enjoy a little music while running errands? Just soooo cool! And you’ve nailed this post, as usual! Yes. Yes to it all. It is about how we respond especially to our new normal! Accepting never, ever means giving up. I believe acceptance is key to living your best life! Terri, great post!😊💜

    1. Thanks so much Kim! When I first saw the pianos, I was so impressed! It’s interesting, too, how many people sit down and play them. Like you, I don’t believe acceptance means giving up, and is, in fact, as you said, “key to living your best life.” Hope things are going great sweet friend. Hugs!

      1. Thanks so much, Terri! I absolutely love the painted pianos! You know, I come across sooo many pianos, people can’t give them away… I may have to put the idea out to my niece who is the fabulous involved kind of mom that one hopes for… you know what I mean. Anyway… thanks, this really has been and continues to be a great blog Terri. I hope you are proud of what you’ve achieved! I am thrilled for you! 😊💜

      2. Thank you so much Kim. You have no idea how much I needed to hear that right now…. It’s especially meaningful coming from you, my very first blogging friend. Sending love and hugs your way!

      3. You’re the one who’s phenomenal lady! Can’t wait to see where this next chapter of your story takes you.

  5. What a beautiful piano, and a lovely concept! We actually had pianos dotted around our town last year to encourage creativity and expression, and I thought it was an fab idea so I hope they do it again in future. The thought of revamping pianos though, of painting them and giving them a new lease of life? That’s fantastic! Another brilliant post, Terri, which emphasises just how important perspective is. The notion of it being a choose as to how you respond and deal with your situation is very empowering, and sometimes we just need a reminder that we have control over our thoughts and attitudes, and that we can use that to make the most of our lives no matter the situation or circumstances.
    Caz xx

    1. Thanks so much Caz! I think it’s easy to lose perspective when we’re right in the middle of all the things that come with chronic illness, but choosing our attitude, does, as you said, give US the power. I’m so glad to hear your town does the piano thing too. I think our city has been doing it for about 4 years now, and people really seem to love it. It’s a wonderful way to encourage creativity, but also to bring people together. I don’t know about in your town, but here, people will often gather around to listen when someone starts playing. The next thing you know, people who don’t know each other are starting conversations…. Hope you’re doing well sweet friend. Hugs!

    1. I do too! I just think it’s wonderful that these pianos are given new life, and that people have access to them all around town. Blessings to you!

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