Twelve ways to avoid despair


Ways to avoid despair

1. Take action. Action as a single individual can feel futile but it’s more powerful than we often know. It inspires others and overrides the helplessness we can all feel as small individuals in a world facing enormous dangers and frightening problems. This might mean resisting Trumpism (so heartening to be in such a huge, patient, good-humoured and creative crowd), donating money or goods to refugees, buying food for the foodbank or visiting someone lonely. Action might mean giving up flying because it just isn’t worth the environmental damage, and reducing your carbon footprint in other ways. It might cost, or involve regular volunteering. It might mean helping someone through a crisis. It might mean committing to a group of likeminded people who will become friends. Commit and give what you can when you can, but only with your heart.

2. Respect your fellow humans. Don’t allow the media to persuade you that people are hopeless, stupid and selfish. Appreciate all the love and kindness around you; I’ve lived all my life in the light of it. Don’t allow anyone to divide you from your fellow humans on the basis of difference. Celebrate diversity. Look for what unites us, and for the light in others.

3. Forgive. Always forgive, and try to understand.

4. If you come across prejudice or injustice, name it. Don’t let it go. This is hard and I’m not as brave as I want to be, but I feel so diminished and ashamed if I take the path of least resistance.

5. Don’t overdose on social media. But follow and Friend those who support, inspire, understand and take a stand for love. Make new connections that educate, strengthen and broaden. Share joy and hope whenever you can.

6. If world news breaks or incapacitates you, walk away. Know your limits and be kind to yourself. Judge more wisely than the news editors what you need to know and what simply damages and demotivates.

7. Spend real-world, face-to-face time with people you care about, depend on or support. Be the best friend you can be. Listen at least as actively as you share. Grow through experience that isn’t yours, and never judge.

8. Read fiction that makes you bigger by helping you to live a life that isn’t yours. Be moved. That’s how we change.

9. If you are drawn to art, poetry, music or dance, don’t consider it pleasure or an indulgence but a healing, a stirring or simply a gift. Celebrate creativity wherever you find it.

10. Give yourself time for a forest, a walk or silence, and feel restored. Sometimes I need to dance with no music, to connect with something deeper than words.

11. Know yourself. Be yourself.

12. Love. Keep believing in love. Celebrate love in action.

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