This essay is an admitted departure from my usual snarky lists. In fact, it's neither. Last week I had a bad day and forced myself to get happier, it worked for me and I hope it can work for you.
Sometimes when I get an especially bad case of the blues I try to quantify the amount of beauty in the world. Every single "awwwwww" from every mother and every father of every child. Every single soldier coming home to his family and joining them at the dinner table for his first night home. Every single time someone did something nice for a stranger just because; and every single time the recipient of that simple act went home and was so grateful beacuse that was the nicest thing anyone did for them all day. Or maybe even all month. I think about how much fun I would have going back in time and meeting my parents and grandparents as kindergarteners.
Every look on every child's face for every birthday, Christmas, holiday and party. I think about universal look of surprise and confusion from recipients of unexpected gifts and the answers that follow from the giver: "...just because.", or "..what you did meant so much to me, thank you.", "You deserve it and I wanted you to have it.", "...welcome aboard, we're so excited to have you!", "I know I can never pay you back fully. But I HAD to get you something.", "It was a little out of my price range but what the heck, right?", "I don't know what I would have done without you.", or "I did it because I love you.".
I try to think about ALL of the beauty in nature. I know that is not really possible to think about, but I still try. Big animals, tiny animals, furry animals, every conceivable kind of newborn. Sunsets, flowers, oceans, lakes, seas, streams, mountains, verdent hills, mountains. A perfect peach on a sunny day, lilacs, the amazing teamwork of bees and ants, clouds, dew, frost, fog, schools of fish, elephants, otters that float on their backs and crack open shellfish with a stone they wisely placed on their belly, all of it.
All the loving effort of all the artists in the history of the world who just wanted to make the world a teeny bit more enjoyable with their art, even if only for one minute.
I think of all of the good friends around the world doing something silly to make a friend laugh during a difficult moment. I think about how many times people have snorted from laughter and how many times someone has laughed so hard they have peed or barfed, and how many people accidentally spit out their drink on someone while laughing, only to apologize while laughing and trying to wipe them clean. Or how many times someone has said, "Stopitstopitstopit! Don't make me laugh!" or just waved their hands in front of their face in an attempt to make the other person stop making them laugh. Or how many times someone has given themself away from laughing at a time they wished they hadn't, but just couldn't help it. I wonder for how many unique reasons have humans cried from happiness: 35? 65,000? I Imagine how enjoyable it would be to try to research that just from interviewing people and asking them to list the reasons they cried and then totalling it all up.
I also think about all of the potential for love in the world: people with love in their hearts but have no one to share it with. Unrealized love waiting to be actual love when the right soul arrives.
When the blues arrive, you feel like all the beauty in the world fades into black and white, and all that remains in colored foreground is that which annoys you. Try as you might to brush the frustration aside, when you keep dwelling on it you don't have a chance of feeling any better.
It reminds me of a joke my father would tell me:
A woman visited an empty church to pray for a miracle. She knelt and prayed, "Dear God, I need a miracle. My husband and I need to win the lottery. We're in debt and I just don't see any other way to get out of this other than winning the lottery. PLEASE God.".
A week goes by and she returns to make a similar plea, but with more urgency. "PLEASE PLEASE God. If our debts aren't paid soon the bank will take our house and our car. We can't get a loan and are really at the end of our rope. Please God, we really HAVE to win the lottery."
Sure enough, she is back in church a few days later and is beginning to lose faith. "God, maybe you aren't hearing me. We will lose our home tomorrow if we don't come up with tens of thousands of dollars and we have nowhere to go. I'm at the end of my rope". Then the walls of the church began to quake and she hears the bellowing voice of God speaking down to her from on high and say, "You could at least buy a ticket!".
When you completely disregard all the beauty in your life, you're no better than the woman who is literally a punchline.
The least you can do is buy a ticket.