Cheering Yourself Up in Tough Times

Because of the financial downturn, a lot of people are going through a rough patch right now. Even if you’re not directly affected, it’s troubling to think of all the people who are losing their jobs, their retirement money, etc. In my New York City neighborhood, several familiar little shops have closed, and I feel a little pang whenever I pass a deserted storefront that used to showcase baby clothes, or stationery, or bathing suits, or whatever.

Helpinghand So what can you do to cheer yourself up? One effective strategy: do a good deed for someone else. “Do good, feel good” – this really works! It’s as selfish as it is selfless; you’ll benefit as much as the person you’re helping.

I have a friend who went through a period of tremendous rejection: she was fired from her job, she didn’t get into the graduate program to which she’d applied, and her longtime boyfriend broke up with her. Fortunately, everything worked out fine in the end, and much later, I asked her how she got through such a tough time. She said, “I was practically addicted to doing good deeds for other people. It was the only way I could make myself feel like I wasn’t a total loser.”

One note of caution: if you’re feeling overwhelmed, do a manageable good deed. Don’t volunteer to run your church’s three-day jumble sale if it’s too much to handle. Start small. Sign up to be an organ donor; clear out your closets and your bookshelves and make a big donation to a thrift shop; pick up someone else’s trash; make the effort to introduce two people who could help each other or could be friends.

The days are long, but the years are short.