While inspirational books saturate the self-help market, none delves into the issues of living a positive, fruitful life quite like U.K. author Paul Thorn’s newest release, HIV Happy. Using what he calls the “Five Pillars,” Thorn describes the simple ways in which both people newly diagnosed with HIV and those who have been living with the virus for a while can take negative thinking and self-image and turn them into positivity in their everyday lives.
“I was inspired to write HIV Happy after seeing an advertising campaign trying to get people to test for HIV,” Thorn says. “The slogan was ‘Take the test—take control.’ It got me thinking, How do people actually take control of their lives once they discover they have the virus? Personally, I think the mind-set of many people I meet living with HIV doesn’t always correlate with the success of treatment. It’s all too easy to believe we are victims and our own propaganda.”
But what exactly does it mean to be “HIV Happy”? According to Thorn and his new book, it’s about living a life where your diagnosis doesn’t define you.
“Being ‘HIV Happy’ is about living in a way where having the virus has a minimal impact on my well-being, in every sense: physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually,” he says. “It’s about harmonious coexistence with the virus in the absence of a cure.”
Thorn also knows that adopting this mentality is not an overnight process, and taking the steps necessary to feel better about yourself and your life isn’t always the simplest thing to do—especially when you first get diagnosed.
“Life hasn’t always been easy, but the alternative to not pushing through wasn’t an attractive option either,” he admits. “Of course, there were times when I wanted to give up, but we are only on this planet for a very short time. The way I got through the darkest days was to see life purely in the nature of an experiment. I wanted to know what happened and how far I could go.”
Thorn says he “learned more about living with the virus—especially before [I was on] effective treatment to manage it—from other people in the same situation. If I do not share what I learned, then the newly diagnosed won’t also benefit from their wisdom. I am merely passing on this baton of knowledge.”
His new radio chat show, HIV Happy Hour, is very much in the upbeat vein of the book. “The beauty of this show is that anyone in the world can listen to it,” Thorn says of the inspirational poz program that’s the only one of its kind in the U.K. It will be broadcast on Radio Reverb’s 97.2 FM in the U.K. and streamed live on the Radio Reverb website, www.radioreverb.com. It will also be available on iTunes and for podcast. Thorn wants HIV Happy Hour and HIV Happy to be real-world guides to poz life.
“In the past, my own negative thinking and internalized stigma was preventing me from living a happier life,” he says. “My thinking needed to change. Having worked through my feelings over many years, I wanted to share my simple philosophy with other positive people so that they too can make the most of the second chance that treatment affords to them. I want to save them time so they can get on with it and enjoy their lives to the fullest.”