Fighting Parkinson’s, and being joyful

Okay. Here we go. You have Parkinson’s, the world is dealing with COVID-19, you probably are on a “stay at home” order with limited permission to leave your home, and I am saying “be joyful.” Being joyful is a choice, and it is a choice that lights up your dopamine. Okay! Let’s do this.

Let’s start with acceptance. I have Parkinson’s. Okay. The world is dealing with COVID-19. Okay. I am staying at home with limited permission to leave my home. Okay.

Many people are spending their time watching TV, binge-watching streaming shows or watching lots of movies, spending a lot of time in front of the computer, or just sitting around their home worrying about what is going on outside their home with COVID-19.

To get out of this adrenaline behavior, as it does not support your life or your recovery, and get into dopamine behavior, which supports your life and your recovery, you have to do something different, something that brings joy into your heart. That will light up your dopamine.

I will begin. I am doing Parkinson’s coaching Monday through Friday, and Sally and I have done a lot of gardening on the weekends. Have we watched some movies or binge-watched the occasional series? Yes, of course. However, we also are reading more books, cleaning more rooms, organization old photos, and playing scrabble.

And we are not playing scrabble competitively. We are playing to see if we can fill the board with words that are creative and can score points so we can utilize as much of the board as possible. Every now and again, one of us will turn our letters around and say, “I am stuck, what are your thoughts?”

Wait, collaborative scrabble? Yes. Everything is not a competition. Neither of us has to be the best. Neither of us has to win. Pre-Parkinson’s, this would have been unheard of. I would have thought, “what is the point of playing a game and keeping score unless I was working hard to win?” That was adrenaline and it kept me in a perpetual state of stress and anxiety.

Well, my friends, being on the other side of Parkinson’s, I can share with you that it is so much more of a joyful event to play for fun, not to always have to play to win. It has to do with being joyful. When we play, we both win and nobody loses, and we are joyful to see what our collaborative efforts have achieved.

I know that some of you do not have somebody at home with you, so you are unable to play a collaborative game like I described. That is okay. There are many other things you can do.

Start a puzzle. A puzzle is a great way to sit, have quiet time, and slowly, but surely see the image on the box come alive on your table. Please notice that I did not say, “Start a puzzle and sit there until you complete it.” Please remember, the point here is to increase your dopamine. So, do things differently. Start the puzzle, and after a while, walk away and start something else…

Like a book. Read for a while, mark your page, and start something else…

Like organizing those old papers or photos you have been meaning to organize but never “could find the time.” I realized that the reason I could “never find the time” is because I felt that I needed to complete in one sitting everything I started. I was incorrect. Having joy includes being joyful in the doing, not just in finishing the project. Just get started, and you can come back to it another time. And start something else…

Like listening to some music to soothe your soul. And start something else…

Like staring out the window and doing nothing…and smiling.

The point here is that everything you are doing is part of you having this gift of life. How you choose to enjoy this gift of life is up to you.

As hard as it might be to start a project, or a puzzle, or a book, with no intention of finishing it in the moment, or as hard as it might be to play a game for fun, or listen to music with no intention of doing anything other than letting it bathe you in good feelings, or to stare out the window at the wonderment of the Universe…DO IT!

It may feel awkward at first, but then your heart will crack open with joy, and the joy will light up your dopamine, and you will feel great. If you are going to be mostly inside your home, why not use the time to heal your life and your Parkinson’s with joy.

Also, did it ever occur to you that there are others in the exact same position as you? Maybe they do not have Parkinson’s, but they are at home. Why not give somebody a phone call, or schedule a Skype, or FaceTime, or WhatsApp Video, or FaceTime Video, or BOTIM Video call.

Being at home can make people feel alone. Talking to others or seeing their faces changes everything. Put a smile on your face and share the joy you are feeling with others. It will increase your joy.

So, what are you doing to pass the time while being at home? Whatever it is, do it joyfully!

And finally, some of you may not be aware, but we have a picture gallery of warriors on this journey. Click here to see the picture gallery. When you look at the smiling faces, you can feel the joy. If you would like your picture included, please email me at

Being joyful is a choice. Let’s all be joyful together!

You are worth it!!!

All my best,


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7 Responses to Fighting Parkinson’s, and being joyful

  1. Paul says:

    Oh Howard this is simply beautiful and very practical.
    I’m going for walks on the beach with my sister and her dog.
    I’m also looking at pictures of me when I was a young boy and remembering the feeling of loving myself.

    We are on the road less travelled and we can do this together!

  2. Elaine J says:

    Thank you Howard! Your message hits right where I need it today. I’ve been wallowing and moping and feeling “not quite good enough” because its (the PD) “not quite gone enough”. Time to flip the switch to JOY; time to STOP obsessing with every little twitch happening in my body and definitely time to just CELEBRATE with thanksgiving and joy everything positive that is in and around me.

    Thank you for the reminder and thank you for always believing….

    Spring is in the air and healing in the wind that swirls around us.
    Peace and joy to all,

  3. Chris Meyer says:

    I think I’ll give tree hugging a try. As of yet, I haven’t seen anyone else hugging my trees, and I don’t believe corona virus novel has figured out how to cross the arbor/human divide – so it should be safe. I’ll just hug ’em, exchange some positive energy with them, sit in their shadows and smile for a while. Then I can take all that positive energy back inside and share it with my family.

    Barking up the right trees in Wisconsin,


  4. Petra says:

    Oh so welcome this story. So let’s play Parkinson’s recovery instead of just focusing on winning 🤣

  5. Sharon says:

    Thank you so much for these suggestions to increase our joy!
    Sharon in North Carolina

  6. Penny Wassman says:

    Huge gratitude for this post, Howard…especially for the reminder that, in all things, we have a choice…sometimes it may seem a little daunting, given that our body is longing for a little ease in the midst of PD symptoms that knock on our door from time to time. But choosing to take a long slow breath, remind myself of the joy found in nature, in friendships and family, and in the caring support you continually offer, is the very best medicine I can imagine.

  7. Rosemary Cortez says:

    Beautiful Howard. You r right. I been cleaning closets. Yard work and playing dominos. U all be safe and try to keep busy . We all going win win win

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