Today Terri Ingraham shares her personal story of finding and exercising her ‘joy muscle’. I hope this piece inspires you to exercise your ‘joy muscle’ too


When you’re suffering from a disease like fibromyalgia or even chronic fatigue, it can often be difficult to look on the sunny side of life. I am reminded of this as I look at some of my clients who will smile as our sessions begin but the more comfortable they get with me, the more they let their guard down and I can see their true feelings come out. It’s hard to be full of joy when you’re barely able to walk or get out of bed.

What I wish I knew back when I was that sick is that when you nourish your physical body by feeding it the nutrients it’s craving, you end up by default nourishing that vulnerable part of you–the “joy” muscle.

When you’re always feeling “under the weather” and constantly canceling engagements, you’ll eventually find comfort in isolation. It’s pretty difficult to be joyful when you feel miserable. Like any other muscle, when you don’t work it, your joy muscle becomes atrophied and you need to make changes to get it working again.

Isolating oneself happens quite often for those of us that have an autoimmune disease because we become afraid to commit to activities or even relationships for fear of disappointing others. When you can’t find the energy to go out at night or put words together and have a meaningful conversation you don’t want others around you. Pretty soon you look at people that are joyful like Olympic athletes…fascinating to watch, you admire them but you’ll never in a million years be one of them.

When you really make the change to nourish your body by flooding it with nutrients, there is a shift that happens; your outlook on life suddenly improves exponentially. You literally want to be around other people instead of push them away. Your joy muscle starts to twitch.

I remember seeing a bumper sticker that read “People Suck” and nodding my head in agreement. People do suck, I thought. I’m sad thinking of that now because I didn’t know that my life could change so dramatically that I not only disagree vehemently with that sentiment, I want to shout from the rooftop “I LOVE PEOPLE!” And I mean it. I do love people because I am full of joy and that fullness seeps from my pores and looks to bless others.

My joy muscle finally works again and I find myself smiling for no reason. I walk by other people and look them in the eye. I encourage others to reach out to me and I make dates and commitments and actually keep them. I also look forward to keeping them, which is something new for me.

If you’re suffering from a disease or just unhappy with how your body feels, I encourage you to make a change today. There is a sunny side to life where joy resides, people don’t suck and your smile never fades.

Terri Ingraham is a Board Certified Holistic Health Coach who spent over half of her life suffering from several autoimmune diseases and digestive disorders. She changed her life when she discovered she was malnourished. Terri now works to help others reduce inflammation and nourish themselves so they too can live the sweet life!

You can find Terri at The Sugar Free Glow,