Throughout the world, workers are unable to go to their fields, offices and factories because of a deadly virus. Children are forbidden to go to school. People are wearing masks. Families are cooped up at home, staring at each other and asking “What? Why? When? Who?”
That’s the chunk of cheese we’re all (or most of us) being asked to chew on. And a perfectly natural question is “How shall we survive without going nutsville?”
One possible answer: keep a notepad by your bedside. On it, list ideas, rules and practices you believe will help you. As you awake each day, review the list. Believe in it. And then spring out of bed shouting, “By god, I’ll do it!”
I’ve done that for a while, with remarkable results. Such as my cat Ellie hiding in a closet until noon.
Following is my list. You’re free to use it, provided you send me a check for $1,000 on the day President Trump becomes a Buddhist janitor in a Singapore dress factory.
1. STAY CALM AT ALL TIMES. In one episode of “Seinfeld,” George’s father shouts “Serenity now!” in the hope that a sense of peace will overtake him. It doesn’t, but he survives. With a little effort or planning, we can repeat “Be cool. Easy does it.” Screaming and cursing achieve nothing worthwhile.
2. GRATITUDE. Count your blessings, the ones you have today plus the hundreds that have brought you this far. Turn the TV news on and see how folks in the Mideast and Central Africa are doing. Compare your life with theirs.
3. RELAX. Mentally and physically. Unwind. Hang loose. Even for 30 seconds at a time.
4. THE ANSWERS YOU NEED ARE THERE. Problems arrive on their own, but solutions often come with them. So, look for them. Take your time.
5. REHEARSE FUTURE VICTORIES. We’re all experts at imaging defeat and disaster ahead. Why not dream of triumph, applause and the golden trophies that may await us instead?
6. BE KIND TO EVERYONE — including yourself. You are not a saint, but you’re also not a bum.
7. NO COMPLAINTS. That’s a toughie. If there really was a Grand Designer of the World, he/she apparently didn’t know port from starboard, good from bad, up from down, and wrong from right — at least 50% of the time. To correct all those mistakes, you and I were left with two options: get busy, or sit and gripe. Take your pick. Tell us which way works for you.
8. BE PATIENT. Not one noble creation — whether it be Rome or Trump’s Mar a Lago estate — was built in an hour. Napoleon’s 1812 invasion of Russia took place one step at a time (Oops — bad example — that march was a disaster.) Until someone invented the number “1,” mathematics was dead at the starting gate. It’s like your grandmother’s favorite saying. “From the little acorn, mighty acorn puddings grow.” We should remember that, next time we begin any project, large or small.
9. STAY IN THE HUMAN RACE. It’s cold and lonesome at the top. Even more so at the bottom. Be friendly. Smile at everyone. This will confuse them, and cause them to follow you, pleading “Tell us your secrets, old ugly man!!”
10. DISTRUST YOUR FEARS. Your worries about the future are the ill-begotten hemorrhoids of your mind. They are the bad dreams of things that will probably never happen. For every such fear, invent an obscene gesture or expression. But don’t use it at your daughter’s wedding.
11. TODAY. That’s first cousin to Step 8. Has anyone ever done anything yesterday or tomorrow? Today — that often means right now — is pretty much all we’ve got, folks. What about the advice of “Be careful. Look before you leap?” We should have done our looking yesterday. Today, it’s show time. Almost every day is show time.
12. IF POSSIBLE, AVOID PREMATURE JUDGING. That’s the step that contravenes several other steps, above. Unless you’re on a hung jury or you notice that your dog has stuck his head down your garbage disposal just as your 6-year-old is reaching for the “On” switch, try not to rush your decisions.
Send me your own self-help ideas. Maybe we can publish a book called “Keeping Cool During Corona.”