RX for Troubled Times

March 21, 2011

There’s no question that world events right now are as troubling as they’ve ever been in my adult life, barring perhaps the events of 9/11. I've been feeling frivolous to be writing a blog about “catching happiness” when it seems that all around me what people are really catching is misery. Then I remember the words I wrote in my “About Me” introduction: “I want this blog to be an exploration of simple pleasures, a place to go to hear about ordinary dreams and everyday adventures, and about all things positive that will inspire, encourage or even make us laugh. Heaven knows we need an antidote to all the bad news out there.”

I don’t believe my path and purpose in life is to “save the world.” What I can do is try to make life a little nicer for myself and those around me. Really, that’s all anyone can do, isn’t it? So here’s my very simple prescription for catching happiness, even in troubled times.

Be good to yourself. Be gentle and kind in your thoughts and expectations of yourself. When you’re hurting—afraid, worried, anxious, overwhelmed—ask yourself, “What would make me feel better right now? Ask this question several times until you arrive at one thing you can do right now that will really help. Sometimes it will be doing something active—once, unbelievably for me, it was cleaning my office. Sometimes it will be pampering, like taking a hot bath or a nap. Maybe it will be a brisk walk or some yoga poses. Maybe it will be a delicious meal with some good wine, or simply sitting outside and listening to the birds singing. Once you know what that one thing is, do it.

Coffee and beignets make me feel better
You can also be good to yourself by paying special attention to the details of your day-to-day life. Choose the pretty pocket notebook rather than the plain one. Eat lunch on real dishes rather than paper plates. Wear perfume every day, not just on special occasions. Buy the fresh flowers, replace the tatty underwear, make sure you have scissors in every room that needs them… If at all possible, deal with the things that constantly irritate you, and make the items you work with and around every day things that make you happy.

Which notebook should I choose?
Be good to others. While your heart aches for the people of Japan, Libya, Yemen, Bahrain (and the list could go on), chances are all you can do for them is to send up a prayer and maybe make a monetary donation. You can, however, be good to someone closer to home. You can volunteer your time in any number of ways locally, of course, but you can also make your family’s favorite meal, compliment the cashier at the supermarket, hug your child, or send a friend a card or gift for no reason. A nation, or even better, a world, filled with people trying to be good to one another—wouldn’t that be awesome?

Be kind in your thoughts about others, too. Give them the benefit of the doubt. Yes, there are some truly horrible people in the world, but most of us are muddling along, making mistakes, but doing the best we can.

Times like these make us grateful for what most of us have (a comfortable place to live and enough to eat) and what we don’t have (a nuclear reactor melting down or a government shooting at us). Our irritations and problems still exist, but seem less troublesome in comparison. Instead of feeling sad and overwhelmed, be good to yourself. Be good to others. And we’ll get through this, too.

When in doubt, curl up in a blanket
What small daily details can you tweak to lift your spirits? How can you do the same for others?

You Might Also Like


  1. A very timely and uplifting post, KJ.

    Not feeling all that great today, I threw together a crock pot meal and let the smell waft through the house all day. For some reason that always makes me feel better. And hubby's nose started twitching as soon as he made the door.

    Sometimes, just pausing and remembering our abundance is enough.

  2. Great post. Sometimes we get frozen in the litany of things happening all around of which we have little say. Mother Teresa used to tell people when they asked what they could do, to love and take care of their families. That's our first and most important job and when that is taken care of we can branch out. Like you, I would love to see a world of people being kind to one another. It has to start somewhere and if taking care of ourselves gets us going then let's do it. I read on another post today about a smile that led to one thing and then another and another. That's something we should all be able to do - give a smile. They can be contagious as a yawn.

    I'd love one of those beignets please. Mmm, they look yummy. And who knows, your upbeat post may truly make a difference just as a smile can. It's a good ending to my day!

  3. Laure--Mmm...good choice. Scent is also a good way to raise your mood, and I'm sure it helped your hubby's mood to come home to a yummy-smelling house.

  4. Timaree--Let's hope our kindnesses, smiles and loving gestures are contagious!

  5. Your blog is definitely not frivolous - far from it! It is usually very inspiring, and this post is no exception. You're right that most of us can't save the world. If we can make even one person's life a little better, we've really done something good and special. Keep writing your wonderful posts!

  6. Thank you so much for your kind words, Cheryl. Your comment made my day. I'll keep trying to make things better one blog post at a time!

  7. Hi Kathy,

    What you are doing on your blog is so important ... giving others encouragement and being "a soft place to land", as Lisa Claro puts it.

    This post is wonderful and a great reminder to do what we can do to be nice to others and to ourselves.

  8. Thanks, Kathy. I think your blog is a "soft place to land," also. We'll all keep going forward, encouraging each other!

  9. Very wise words, Kathy. I'll carry them in my heart to ponder...