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Five Things to Know Before You Despair of Goodness in the World



1. You're probably watching too much news, listening to too much Democracy Now! -- or both. While being informed is usually a good thing (digesting this North Coast Journal, for example, is an excellent choice), immersing yourself in sadness you can't do anything about will just weigh you down with hopelessness. Take a break. If you can't step away completely, limit yourself to 15 minutes either in the morning or the evening. Distract yourself by reading a book instead. Booklegger, Eureka Books, Tin Can Mailman and Northtown Books all have staff waiting to help you find something fun.

2. Go outside. We live in one of the prettiest places in the world. Go to the beach, to the bay, to the parks, to the forests, to the river. Watch a sunset. Watch a sunrise. Pile on the layers and hike up Trinidad Head. Let that horrible north wind whip around you at the top. Feel it tear your troubles from your body. Cry if you need to -- you can blame your tears on allergy season. Descend with a greater sense of peace. Admire the picturesque harbor. Feel alive and grateful for it.

3. Remember, all around you, people are doing noble things. We have Betty Chinn. We have Food for People. We have CASA. We have thousands of people quietly going about their lives being good and kind, sometimes banding together for a cause, sometimes just making the world a better place simply by not making it worse. (To borrow from George Eliot's Middlemarch: "The growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life.") Look upon people more gently.

4. Related: Join the noble-thing-doing people by volunteering -- opportunities abound. It's hard to argue there's no good in the world when you're surrounded by people doing it.

5. You have a family, right? And/or friends? Have a potluck/game night. If you have no one, please, find your people. You need people. At least one person. Research the calendar/workshops/marketplace of the NCJ. Many things are happening! Sign up, show up. Make a friend. Socialization combats depression, reminds us that the world offers companionship and love as well as all the heartbreak and suffering.  

Bonus: Tempting as it may be, do not attempt to escape the world by boozing it up when you're feeling down. I know, such advice seems counterintuitive, but cocktails should be for celebrating, not for numbing. Alternative coping methods: meditation, running, dancing, writing, painting, screaming into a pillow, sex. (Oh, yeah, sex! That's a good one! Do that. With appropriate protection!)

How do you stay positive despite the siege of sad news? Send suggestions to [email protected].


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