“The grass on the other side is always greener” doesn’t suit one section of the population-those born with disabilities. A blind person is unaware of the beauties surrounding him/her, a deaf person is ignorant of the soothing musical tones, laughter or sounds to differentiate between noise and music and a dumb person has no idea about the joys of expressing or talking your heart out. On a positive note this leaves such people devoid of jealousy, hatred or greed as they have never experienced any of the things they seriously lack in life at an early stage and have nothing to compare to.
Human tendency is to feel pitiful for someone who lacks something of need and feel jealous of those who live a better life in terms of money, power and health. With this, there’s no doubt that every normal being in this Earth feels pitiful for the disabled population from their heart. Funnily, when to most observers disabled people seem to live a life of suffering and unhappiness many people with permanent and serious disabilities report of experiencing a good quality of life! On what basis do we assume a disabled person’s life to be unhappy and uneventful?
Differently-abled & not Disabled
Every time we look at a disabled person, we automatically thank nature for showering us with a normal body and mind. Many even go to the extent of swearing to end their lives if such a disability should fall upon them. In general, disability is associated with failure, dependency and the inability to do things in the right way. Often, individuals feel sorry for the disabled people as they imagine that the disabled man leads a miserable life, and this is extremely wrong.
Also called as the disability paradox, individuals with disability often lead an equal or better quality of life than that of normal people. Its been told that humans have the capability and nature to flourish despite lacking major sense organs, lacking the ability to walk or even when they are 100% dependent on others. That’s mainly because people born with an inability don’t have anything to compare their current existence with. For instance, a person with an intellectual disability doesn’t have the insight to consider himself/herself different from the rest or lacking in some aspect of life. Even for someone born with restricted growth the person becomes used to being the way they ae despite hardships in life.
But, for a person who acquires disability during the course of life the situation is different. Paralysis attack or blindness due to some fire accident or likewise makes you take a total U turn in life. Life becomes standstill, the individual feels totally depressed and might even think about suicide sometimes. After a while, the same individual starts adapting to the new life, looks at the disability from a different perspective and even starts achieving greater things than before.
There is also another perspective wherein some people feel that the disabled population puts on a brave show in front of others but mourns in isolation about the miseries of life. Maybe the individuals are deluding themselves by putting on a happy face. But such comments and thoughts are wrong as research in the field of hedonic psychology supports disabled people’s report of better quality of life. Some scientists who have thoroughly analyzed people’s thoughts and views explain the concept of hedonic adaptation-life after trauma returns to its previous quality of life which existed before trauma struck in due course of time.
Psychology Does it All
There are many different psychological processes that keep going on inside a disabled person’s mind. They start adapting and accommodating their changes. By adaptation they find other ways to do something. For example, if the person cannot walk, he/she uses the wheelchair to go to the same places and feels satisfied taking a stroll for just 10 minutes instead of the usual 1-hour outing. Accommodation sets in when the person starts valuing other things. For example, given a choice between going for a walk along the country side to going out to a restaurant with friends, they are sure to choose the latter. Human beings try to find satisfaction in smaller things that seem possible to achieve, are happy to find joy being with family and friends and find some way out to adapt to any situation that life offers.
We are entirely mistaken when we assure that difficulties result in misery. We see so many people who are fully functional, have abundant money yet lack companionship or the personality to feel happy and enjoy life. Hence, environment too plays a crucial role in determining a person’s happiness levels. Read more about environment’s impact on disability from the website www.firsteatright.com. Most disabled people rely on mechanical devices or people to help them sail through life everyday and any problems with these can disrupt their quality of life. Hence, disability is neither as simple as cold/cough nor is it a great tragedy. Each of us are born into this world to be vulnerable to diseases and sufferings and finally die someday. People who lead life with difficulty have a better sense of perspective than those whose life is easier comparatively. Remembering this can make us accept disability in a better way and act less biased against disabled people.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.