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8 Ways to See the Good in the World on a Dark Day

It feels like we’re always surrounded by bad news and political hysteria. Even if you try to avoid bad news it always manages to seep in. As a great man once said, “When you’re chewing on life’s gristle, don’t grumble; give a whistle, and this’ll help things turn out for the best.”

Cute animals. Humans are hardwired to want to care for baby animals. They have big eyes and they’re just so adorable. It’s impossible to feel angry and depressed while looking at a baby squirrel. If there is a cute animal you can spend time with in real life, that’s the best option. They do cute things and you want them to be safe and happy and that makes you feel better. If you don’t have a cute animal handy in real life, you might be able to find pictures of some on the internet.

Gratitude. We’ve managed to survive as a species by being alert to threats. It’s easy to forget that at any given moment we have less to fear than to be grateful for. When things seem bad, take a few minutes and write down three things you are grateful for. It doesn’t have to be anything major. In fact many things we really should be grateful for tend to fade into a the background. Maybe a parent has supported you through some really bad times. Maybe clean, drinkable water flows through pipes directly into your kitchen. Amazing!

Uplifting news. Most news is bad–political turmoil, wars, murder–and most of it shows up immediately on your phone. It’s like having a personal assistant who taps you on the shoulder to tell you every time a car bomb explodes somewhere in the the world. There is good news, though, if you know where to look and you actually look for it. If you are on Reddit, try subscribing to r/UpliftingNews or r/HumansBeingBros for acts kind and heroic. YouTube is full of heartwarming videos. When bad things do happen, remember Mr. Roger’s advice and look for the helpers.

Comedies. Comedies make you laugh, which is good. Comedies also have a way of transmuting bad times. A mortifying experience can be funny when properly reframed. Comedy can teach us to take ourselves and our problems less seriously. It shows us that even decent, intelligent, successful people sometimes make complete asses of themselves, and we should cut ourselves a little slack.

Do something nice. Doing something nice for someone else is one of the best things you can do to make yourself feel better. For one thing, it gets you out of your own head and gets you thinking about what others might need. For another thing, it gets you to think of ways you can actively make a difference, instead of despairing about the state of the world. It doesn’t have to be anything big. You can send 20 bucks to your favorite charity or text a friend to let her know you appreciate her. Be the change.

Listen to music. Music has a powerful effect on our moods, so use it wisely. If you’re feeling down, pass on Elliott Smith and maybe go for the Ramones or whatever cheers you up instead.

Spend time with friends. Humans are social animals. Many of our more dysfunctional mental states result from feeling disconnected. Spend time with people you like and who support you. Don’t underestimate how much better you will feel if you support them too.

Spend time in nature. Nature doesn’t care about what congress is doing or that fight you had with your boyfriend. Nature just keeps on going. Spending time outside with the trees and flowers is a good way to remind yourself that most problems are a matter of perception. Being in nature lowers stress and raises serotonin. It’s good to breathe fresh air and get away from the internet. Just don’t bring Werner Herzog along with you.

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, you can look forward to better days and Gardens Wellness Center can help. Call us today at 844-828-1050 or email us at