If you follow the news these days, you may not be the happiest of campers. In fact, many informed people are reporting increased levels of anxiety and depression. A sense of impending doom coupled with abject helplessness. Unspecified dread and existential angst.
The usual suggestion for combating these negative feelings, is to avoid the news. Entirely. That doesn’t work for me. Staying informed gives me a small sense of control. Besides, my anxiety would conjure scenarios in Washington far worse than what’s actually happening.
I think a better approach is to find things in your daily life that give you pleasure. Small doses of unmitigated joy can counter a shitload of negativity. Your body relaxes. Your face breaks into a smile. You are flooded with endorphins. Your mind registers happiness and relaxation, even for a short while. For me, those moments recharge me and give me perspective. Not everything in the world is bleak and scary.
There are many things I do to give myself that rush of positive energy. For example, last night my husband and I watched one of our favorite movies – “Galaxy Quest,” with Tim Allen and Sigourney Weaver. It’s a humorous take-off on the Star trek TV series. We know it so well, we can recite some of the dialogue along with the actors. That in itself is a hoot! We smiled and laughed all the way through the movie for the 99th time.
Another sure-fire feel good movie for us is “When Harry Met Sally.” Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan. I beam from ear to ear when I watch that one, which I do at least once a year. Everyone has movies like that. Find yours and enjoy them to the fullest.
Another reliable happiness fix for me is watching my dogs play. The unbridled joy of two dogs wrestling and chasing each other is truly healing. If you don’t have a dog, go to a dog park or look up ‘dogs playing’ on YouTube. Kittens playing should create the same effect if you’re more of a cat person.
Here’s something everyone can do. I have filled my house, like many people have, with art and decorative objects. I get joy from walking around and looking at my favorite things. Some give me pleasure because they are so beautiful or are special because of the memories they evoke – often when or where I acquired them. Many have an emotional connection because they belonged to, or were a gift from, a loved family member or friend. Others evoke memories of another time in my life, sometimes as far back as childhood.
Take the time to enjoy and appreciate the special artifacts in your life too.
None of these are any kind of permanent solution to the ennui we are feeling, but taking control of your emotions — even for a short — time is empowering. And it does put the goings-on in Washington in perspective.
Presumably our daily lives will not be affected today or tomorrow by whatever the Trump administration or Congress is doing at the moment. There will be more than enough time to panic if we are personally screwed by the government’s actions.
In the meantime, take a few deep breaths and enjoy what you can, when you can, as often as you can.
For Tom’s answer to the same question, see PUT DOWN THE PHONE AND PICK UP THE REMOTE – By TOM CURLEY.