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15 Ways to Grin and Bear It

Lifting Yourself Out of the Doldrums

Raise your hand if you’re sick and tired of hearing that we’re living in “unprecedented times.” Same goes for variants like “difficult times,” “challenging times,” etc. Enough already!

We’ve been coping through Covid and everything that’s been upended in its wake. And that’s not counting all of life’s little surprises that spring upon us, whether or not we’re navigating a global pandemic.

“If it’s not one thing, it’s another.” – Roseanne Roseannadanna

Gilda Radner didn’t just come up with this phrase on her own, though it was popularized during her Saturday Night Live! character. Hey, sh*t happens. Like it or not, we can’t control everything that life throws at us. But unless we choose to just give up, we can learn to handle these situations and move on with our lives. Sometimes the best medicine for handling the pain is humor or outright mockery.

Comedy often is birthed through adversity. Many great comedians and humorists emerge from difficult backgrounds, struggle through ordeals, or at one time or another feel like the proverbial Job. Their material is sourced in personal and cultural experience, and channeled into standup routines, TV comedies, and popular movies. Think Richard Pryor, who was the first to force the U.S. to look at large social questions of race with his ground-breaking comedy routines. Or Mel Brooks, who took revenge on the Holocaust by mercilessly mocking Hitler and his henchman in “Springtime for Hitler,” the musical within the Broadway hit musical “The Producers.”

You’d think with all the unprecented/difficult/challenging stuff going on over the past eighteen months, comedians are busy stockpiling years of outrageous material. We’ll have to see how much of it doesn’t get censored by the gatekeepers in today’s prickly political and cultural climate. It’s hard to be funny when you’re acutely aware that the sensitivity axe could swing down upon you at any time. But people are creative and adaptable, so I’m sure we’ll be seeing presentations of characters more or less successfully navigating the pandemic, quarantine, and masks in times to come. At least until we become sick and tired of the whole thing and are ready as a society to move on.

I’m not going to crack jokes here. I’m just not that funny. But in the spirit of, well, raising spirits, I would like to share a few ideas to lift yourself and those around you out of the doldrums. Just a simple shift in attitude or perspective works wonders. And that’s something we can all certainly use!

  1. Smile. Yes, it IS contagious and goes a long way to helping everyone feel a little better.

  2. Be there for a friend who’s going through a tough time. Just knowing someone cares is often enough.

  3. Help someone out with a task (or even the dreaded residential move, if you’re especially brave!).

  4. Go out for ice cream. Or a cookie. Or in my case, anything chocolate. Don’t overdo it and pack on the pounds. A little something special, once in a while.

  5. Take a walk in the woods, around the neighborhood – a change of scenery does one good!

  6. Exercise. Raise those endorphins. Hey, maybe you’ll even get into better shape or (dare I say it?) lose a little weight.

  7. Read a book, watch a movie. Especially something funny.

  8. Volunteer your time and services to a worthwhile organization. They need help, as do the people serving, and you’ll feel better about yourself, knowing that you made a difference in somebody’s life.

  9. Clean out a mess that you’ve been procrastinating on for way too long. You’ll be proud of doing so and so much happier the next time you walk by and see what you’ve accomplished.

  10. Go easy on yourself and remind yourself of your accomplishments, how you’ve helped someone else, or how you’re important to your family or pet. Many of us are guilty of being much harder on ourselves than we’d be on others, so give yourself a pat on the back instead.

  11. Listen to music. Dancing, optional. Singing along, maybe best in the shower.

  12. Get some sun. Or if you live with cloudy, rainy weather much of the time, get some Vitamin D, also known as “the Sunshine Vitamin.”

  13. Express gratitude. Instead of brooding on what you DON’T have, focus on what you DO have and be appreciative. Yes, the old “count your blessings” has true merit in providing a truer perspective on life and bringing comfort to a beleaguered spirit.

  14. Give and/or receive a hug. A hug is reassurance, acceptance, and comaraderie. If you can work a back rub into it, so much the better.

  15. Feed the birds. Or the ducks, if you have a local duck pond handy. Walk your dog. Play with a pet. Mess with a cat by shining a laser pen onto a wall or furniture and watch kitty try to pounce on the light as you move it around. All fine entertainment.

Notice I did NOT include retail therapy. While temporarily satisfying, it doesn’t really bring the warm fuzzies to your life. Well ... unless it’s something you REALLY like or need. And even then, it can cause troubles elsewhere. Such as unnecessary clutter and pressure on your personal finances. So why bother? You’d just have to start all over again to lift your spirits back out of the doldrums. Try out some of the 15 above suggestions and let me know they worked out for you!