How To Be Happier When Miserable; Vis Monday Reminder


Of course, being miserable is truly relative. I can’t say I’ve ever experienced misery in my life, compared to billions around the world who struggle with hunger and disease, violence and cruelty. I’ve had such an easy life: born into a decent family, always fed, and well-educated. Friends, safety, enough $$$ to get by, all the basics and more, and often taking them for granted.

But we do live in our own worlds and in our own heads, and can be laid low by even relatively minor life events, like a broken wrist. The inability to take care of myself fully, to open a jar, or zip a blouse, and – more scary – the fear of disability, can make me glum. And I don’t want to waste any time being glum. So here are some of the ways I am trying to stay buoyant, during a difficult month or two. And maybe they’ll be of some help to you too, when you are having downtime.
Specialize in the things that you truly love. This is a time to watch your favorite movies, or a new documentary, or dive into a mystery that’s been sitting on your bed stand. There’s no need to be stoic about life’s little pleasures. And if you like a bit of trashy TV, go ahead and indulge. Distraction is a great way to cope with negative situations, even if it’s just for a few hours.


You don’t have to go this far.

Measure your progress in tiny increments. If it only takes me four minutes to brush my teeth today, instead of 4 1/2 minutes yesterday, well, that’s progress. Every time I’m able to accomplish something on my own, without asking for help, I do a little happy dance. When I do the happy dance, I pretty much stand in one place because I don’t want to fall again.
Keep a sense of humor about your current situation. A lot weird and wacky things can happen when you’re sick or injured, and some of them will make great family stories in the years ahead. Many of these stories involve the backless gowns you get when you’re in the hospital. This doesn’t mean that we should fake being happy. We need to give ourselves permission to feel the sad feelings too. We let the negativity come to visit, but it can’t move in.
Get philosophical. I’ve been reading Zen Buddhism sites, to learn more about the art of accepting what is. A helpful question to ask ourselves is, “What am I supposed to learn from this?” What do I choose to focus on—the rose or the thorn?

Splurge on genuinely helpful things. Although I am living in terror of seeing the hospital bill, I’m splurging on hiring a housecleaner. Otherwise there’s not much scrubbing bubbles going around on around here. I also made an appointment with my dear friend and therapist Anne, to talk through some of the darker feelings I’ve had since the surgery. And a little bit of chocolate, or a little bit of wine, is not going to impair my recovery.

Stay fabulous, stay joyful, and see you at the new “Easy does it” Visible Monday,


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  1. It sure looks like you’re doing all the right things,Patti. I like how you noticed and celebrated the progress of a half minute faster with the teeth brushing. It is the little things like that in life that we don’t normally pay much attention to that really can have an strong positive impact. Staying mindful and in the moment can make you appreciate a lot of things your mind is usually too busy to notice.

    Oh, and chocolate and wine doesn’t hurt either 🙂

  2. It’s good to see that you are dealing with this episode in your life in a positive way. It’s all to easy to give in to one’s miserableness, but that won’t be any good in the long run. Dealing with life’s setbacks with a sense of humour is a gift! Getting a housecleaner will give you peace of mind in that department as well. xxx

    • Thank you Ann. You’re so right about not giving in to misery. It accomplishes very little 🙂 XO

  3. Patti, you show such tenacity when facing adversity, and yet you do so with flair and humor! We could all do with more of that in our own lives!
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us as it is so encouraging and inspiring!

    • Thank you, Teresa, for the encouraging words. I hope you have a wonderful weekend. XO

  4. Having experienced a long term recovery from ankle surgery that required no weight-bearing for prolonged period, I can certainly understand your feelings about dependency and how depression can under-mind your recovery. Sometimes depression can sneak up on you during this time and it may be months before you fully understand the impact it had on your life. You are wise–and as a professional, trained–to recognize these feelings early on and to deal with them in a positive fashion. One thing I did learn while incapacitated was that even though I resented needing help, the people who love me NEEDED to help me. It was their way of showing their love for me and to not let them help was to deny them a way to tangibly demonstrate that love. The positive out of the negative: how fortunate I was to have folks like that in my life.

    May your healing process be successful, both physically and mentally.

    • Thank you, Mary, for your wise words. And I agree with you that when we allow our loved ones to help us, it deepens our bonds. XO

  5. Such helpful thoughts and hints, a big thank you and good wishes for your speedy recovery. OMG, haven’t even seen that program but do not want to 🙁 I second the thoughts above re your hospital, healthcare fees. So fortunate I live in Australia with ‘free universal healthcare’ if we really need it 🙂 Hope our plans work out as we are looking to build a ground level, easy access home shortly to enable us to be cared for at home should we need it. Love reading your posts – Sam the Aussie

  6. Your spirited message reminded me of this from Viktor Frankl:
    “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
    Viktor E. Frankl
    He was imprisoned in a Nazi camp during WW II and later wrote some inspiring things, while being a psychiatrist and neurologist.

    • Hi Carol. It’s amazing that you mentioned Victor Frankl, because I was reading some of his works when I composed this post; he was a true inspiration. xo

  7. A wise and witty post, Patti. (You should have seen me the other day trying to thread a needle!) The art of letting go becomes increasingly important as we age – although not style-wise, of course! Hope everything is mending well and you will soon be back to your usual self.

    • Thank you so much for your kind words. I remember threading the needle for my grandmother when I was about 10 years old. At the time I thought “this is so easy”. Haha!

  8. I’m glad to learn you are coping with this little set back. I know how such things can uproot us, our confidence and change our outlook on life.

    Everything you are doing is right on the money. I applaud you for getting a housekeeper and seeing a therapist. Anything to help you through this time is worthwhile.


    • Thank you, Suzanne, you always have le bon mot. Like everything else, this too will pass. Have a wonderful weekend. xox

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