The first thing to do is to acknowledge you have to do something. This sounds easier than it is. This first step is a psychological step. You affiliate yourself with a new community. The community of physically challenged Americans. The Most difficult thing is to admit that you are now physically different than you used to be. Common thoughts are "I'm not 'disabled.' I'm not like that guy in the wheelchair or I don't have arthritis half as bad as that girl does.”
A support group is a great place to find a common ground with others as well as an amazing amount of information. I had arthritis for 10 years before my first support group meeting. That's way too long. This new community of people can have an enormously positive effect on you. Many support groups focus on having fun. Little time is spent whining, although there is time to discuss the painful side.
After you acknowledge your disease and agree that you must do something about it, be careful not to make grandiose plans. Start with one goal. I started with swimming a couple laps three days a week. Then I added more laps each week. If you can swim a couple laps or even walk in the water and do range of motion exercises you'll be ten times better off. You'll have more mobility, less pain, more energy and self pride for your accomplishments.
Cling to whatever makes exercise easier or more fun. I listen to music while exercising. I fantasize I'm in a race or a life and death struggle. In a way it is. One more lap to win; tread water 2 more minutes, etc.
Another thing you must do is communicate with your doctor. Work in partnership. If your Doctor disagrees with your way of healing find one who supports you. When I told my Doctor I was going to ride 110 miles on my bike, rather than dissuade me, he asked what type of pain pill I wanted after I cross the finish line. That's the kind of Doctor you want. One who supports your goals. That doesn't mean he has to agree with what you want to do. It just means you can have a mature dialog together. I can not over emphasize the importance of the physician-patient communication. It can literally make or break you. I'm an organic, holistic kind of guy, but realize that the medical and clinical aspect of my healing is just as important as all the other areas.
Focus on the positive side. See the cosmic joke of the universe in your every day activities. Seek out humor and it will find you. Don't try too hard! The "I'm gonna enjoy life if it kills me!" approach is not recommended. Take it easy. Try humor out, but try other things too. Keep in mind that if humor is forced it's not likely to work. Connect with other positive people. Positive attracts positive as negative attracts negative. Be aware of your inner thoughts. The messages that you tell yourself. If you catch yourself thinking "It's no use, this will never work" Change your thoughts. Your positive thoughts will improve your situation. Act "as if" and soon the "as if" will be reality.
Finally, you will arrive at a point where you will want to share your accomplishments. Be an inspiration for others who are just beginning to go through what you've already been through. Speak up at support groups, Contribute articles to health magazines and newspapers. Set new goals. Be proud of your accomplishments, but remember there's always one more thing you can accomplish!

Author's Bio: 

David M. Jacobson, MSW, LCSW is a professional speaker and author of "The 7 1/2 Habits of Highly Humorous People" He is an international expert in humor and health and is President of
David is a licensed psychotherapist and clinical social worker. He is also a professional member of the National Speakers Association.
His many honors include the National Hero Overcoming Arthritis Award and the Arthritis Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award. He is also the recipient of a “Joy Mask” for his work with the Korean Broadcasting System, The President’s Award from Flashnet Marketing and the Jim Elliot Award for his fund raising 50 mile unicycle ride. David also served on the Arizona’s Governor’s Office for Children’s Children’s Justice task Force. He has lived with severe arthritis for 28 years and speaks on using humor to overcome adversity.