5 Tips To Keep Happy ... Even In Wartime
The world is going downhill faster than an Olympic skier. Terrorists lurk around every corner. Climate change will soon melt the tundra and turn Iowa into a desert. Frankenstein foods are flooding the market, cleverly masquerading as innocent potatoes and beets.
And everybody is planning a war.
Sadam wants to unleash unspeakable biological evils. George Bush II wants to unleash unimaginable military might. Germany and France want to just unleash. North Korea ... need I say more? India and Pakistan want to run a nuclear relay race, and worst of all we won't even know who the good guys and bad guys are supposed to be. And I know why my Israeli friend moved back to New Jersey.
Just when we thought it was safe to sit back and take comfort in knowing exactly how bad things are, some fool has to come up with five tips to keep our spirits up in uncertain times. And that fool is me. So here are the tips:
- Count your blessings. We have so much to be grateful for. Iraq's dime store missiles cannot hit anywhere too important (defined more specifically as "where I live"). Then, of course, there is all the "stuff" we have, like the flush toilet (I would not want to have lived 500 years ago!) and the remote control. We can be grateful for all the variety, such as 32 flavors of ice cream on every corner and at least a dozen flavors of tooth floss. We can count our education, our knowledge and our opportunities. And we have soooo much more freedom than our ancestors. Geez, with all these blessings to count, it gets hard to enjoy living in terror of the big, bad world.
- Smile at a stranger. If the world shows us a threatening face, why not paint that face with smiles to make it less threatening. Let's face it, if I smile at you, you'll smile back. The more I smile, the more people will smile at me. The more you smile, the more people will smile at you. If everybody follows my advice, at least dentists will be too busy to fear world events.
- Learn a new skill. Imagine the sense of accomplishment and the power of mastering a new skill. Like mesquite cooking. Like whittling. Like pterodactyl breeding. Oh well, two out of three. And if you learn that skill in a classroom setting, full of other energized new-skill-masterers, you get the bonus of seeing that positive face of the world, complete with smiles and busy dentists.
- Study history. Bad things happen. Good things happen. That's history. Today will one day be history that somebody reads about. So don't sweat it. (Editor's note: If nobody is left to read about it, scratch this tip.)
- Volunteer. One of the scariest things about the world today is not just that it seems to be going downhill, but that we feel powerless to stop it. Worse still, politicians and diplomats are in charge. But we CAN take control and send the world uphill right in our own neighborhood. We can help the local animal shelter. We can work at the food bank. (That's my personal favorite, and NO you do NOT get free samples.) We can help little old ladies across the street. We can make a difference right in our own communities where the politicians and diplomats won't interrupt.
Sorry about those five tips. If you wish to ignore them and return to the regularly-scheduled misery-wallowing, please go ahead. After all, in wartime nobody really wants to be happy, do they?
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