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Setbacks: Meeting your Munchkins

1. Get enough sleep. Sounds like your grandma talking? Well, turns out she was right. In a time of crisis, this is the first step towards finding a solution. Study after study shows that a good night’s sleep elevates your mood, boosts your immunity, and allows you to make better decisions. It also helps with weight loss. Remember, no matter what the problem, staying up all night to fix, worry or despair about it is not going to help. But a steady diet of seven or more hours of sleep per night might change your life. It’s that easy. And in a world where personal change can be so difficult, why not start with the simple things?

2. Walk for at least ten minutes today. It doesn’t matter where. Ten minutes can give you the energy and the mood boost you need to make things happen … or recover from what just did. Depression and sadness, anxiety and despair can overtake any of us, but the simple act of walking, one foot in front of the other, can be the most courageous step you take all year … towards happiness, towards health, towards a better life. You don’t have to walk fast. You don’t have to wear special clothes. You don’t even have to have to like it. Do fifteen or twenty or thirty or sixty minutes if you can, but hey, ten minutes is just fine too. Ten is a step forward. Ten counts. It will clear your mind and your heart in ways you can’t even predict.

3. Call somebody. When something bad happens, for many of us, the tendency is to immediately hop a plane to the land of “I Can’t Do Anything Right” or, even more picturesque, The United States of “The World is Against Me and I’m Never Going To Get Anywhere.” Welcome! But before you unpack, get on the phone. To someone who loves you, preferably, or even cares (and if you’ve gone to any twelve-step meeting in the world, I guarantee you have some of those people on the phone list they pass out at the beginning of every meeting). Contact. That’s all this strategy takes. I guarantee the person you call has had a setback at one time or another, if they’re not an answering machine. Hearing someone else tell a story of having faced down disaster — and survived — can help you check out of the Hotel Self Hatred quick. Which is good, because there is no pool and the continental breakfast is terrible.

Look, everybody wishes for a smooth ride. Religious experts and philosophers have devoted centuries to figuring out why there is no easy path … to anything. Problems — and finding solutions to those problems — are the work of achieving a dream. Remember, if Dorothy solved everything she was up against in the first five minutes of the Wizard of Oz, it would have been an awfully short movie. And just think, she never would have met the Munchkins. So embrace your own Munchkins … and don’t be afraid to try again.

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