The key to being happy with herpes:

Give up hope ... ?

Are you suffering with herpes? (Key word here being “suffering.”) Well, here’s the secret to moving on, to being happy: Just give up.

Hold on, stop the temper tantrum. Get up off the floor. Let’s be clear: Don’t give up on everything. Keep that good, positive hope. Keep the optimism. Just give up that irrational hope that you’re clinging to. That just-out-of-your-reach hope that’s keeping you from moving on with your life. Give up that nagging hope of finding a herpes cure (although it may happen). Give up hope that you’ll never have a herpes outbreak again (although they do lessen with time). Give up hope that one day saying “I have herpes” to a potential partner will be easy-breezy (although disclosing can actually be a connecting experience). Give up hope that at some point, that herpes outbreak won’t impact you in any way (although with time, it impacts you less and less).

Sound dismal? It’s only dismal if you expect that what you’re hoping for is possible. If it’s not possible, then you’re painting yourself into a pretty hopeless corner. It’s like holding out hope to win the lottery, waiting for that day that your true happiness will come. Your life is officially on hold until the lottery is won. And you find yourself waiting forever (99.9998% odds — not to mention your numb fingertips from that mountain of scratch-off tickets).

Herpes and colostomy bags

Yes, herpes can be shitty at times, but this study takes shitty quite literally. A study published in the November 2009 issue of Health Psychology journal dealt with adults who had their colons removed. It shows us the “dark side of hope.” Out of the 71 no-colon patients, 41 were told they could have surgery to reconnect their bowels, while the rest were told nothing more could be done — they would have to learn to live with a colostomy bag.

Dr. Peter Ubel is one of the authors of the study. He says, “We’re not saying hope is a bad thing. What we’re pointing out is that there can be a dark side of hope. It can cause people to put their lives on hold. Instead of moving on and trying to make the best of circumstances, you can think, ‘my circumstances are going to change eventually — no point in dealing with these circumstances.'”

What are you waiting for?

So stop waiting for a future outside of your control. It might never show up. Giving up irrational hope is actually freeing: It frees you up to live your life as it is instead of how you think it should be. Life naturally changes, shifts, evolves. We lose things, we gain things, and through it all we learn to live under constantly evolving circumstances. We learn about ourselves. So evolve. Live your life as it is right now.

“Worst” case scenario, a cure is never found, but you have learned to live with the fact that this simple little virus is just something to deal with, not worth pausing your entire life for.

“Best” case scenario, a cure is found and you can promptly throw this article in the trash and find somewhere else to focus your unbridled optimism.

But either way, at least you didn’t wait to live.

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