So the holiday season has arrived, and traditionally this is a time for joy and togetherness. Yet for many of us, this year hardly seems time for celebration.
And I know, this is a health blog, not a political blog. But I feel like I have to acknowledge the elephant in the room—the scary mean orange elephant, the angry beast who defeated the diligent, highly qualified donkey and now rules the world.
These are scary times. It feels too fake and weird to just pretend everything is normal.
We have a president-elect gearing up to destroy our democracy. Not out of malice or twisted ideology. No, Trump is not some epic villain for the ages with a sinister grand plan–he’s just arrogant. Ignorant. Entitled. Vindictive. Uninhibited. Mendacious. Greedy. Narcissistic.
Every day comes some fresh outrage, something that would have, in times past, shocked the populace, made bold headlines, brought down administrations. Yet there are never any repercussions. Well, we get funny SNL skits and Samantha Bee rants and Facebook petitions. They makes us feel better momentarily, but we’re still facing the same horrific reality a few minutes later.
Am I offending some of you pro-Trump people out there? I’m sorry. But I’m offended you elected this racist, sexist, irrational, authoritarian, hate-filled monster to lead our country.
But hey, if you supported Trump and are somehow still willing to put up with my occasional rants, you are still most welcome here!
So what’s the health angle here? It’s this: bazillions of studies have shown that feelings of gratitude and appreciation are good for us. Cultivating appreciation, even in the midst of political shitstorms, improves our physical and mental health, and makes us far less likely to be assholes to those around us.
So I thought I’d go first: what are a few things that I’m especially appreciating this year as the holidays roll around?
My family, friends and community (both the geographical and online kind of community) exist in that liberal “bubble” we’re told we should wander out of more often. But fuck that. I am not going to wander over to Breitbart or peruse the National Enquirer or go to a Trump rally to immerse myself in their nasty perverted take on the world.
(Of course my wife and I actually do wander outside the bubble, in a physical sense. We cross the country by car quite frequently, and just traveled through a bunch of red states right after the election. Everyone was very pleasant. But we did not talk politics.)
Anyway, the silver lining to the arrival of the Trumpocalypse is my skyrocketing feelings of admiration, affection, and appreciation for all those who are just as appalled as I am about the horrifying wrongness of what’s happening, and are expressing it in all kinds of clever and heartfelt ways.
And it’s not just an abstract appreciation, it feels emotional, even physical. I’m reminded of the days following 9-11, when we lived in New York City: looking around at everyone trying to cope and help and pull together, and feeling a sense of unity and camaraderie in the wake of the unthinkable.
It’s weird how that “under attack” feeling can make you appreciate the good qualities of those around you. The country has suddenly turned hostile to basic ideals we thought were inarguable. But at least we have each other. And we will resist.
2. Less Flagrant Materialism
Is it just me, or does it seems like it’s a more restrained, reflective, and simple holiday season this year than in previous years? I’m hearing more and more people say they are going easy on presents, favoring adventures and gatherings and necessities and togetherness over Big Fat Piles of Expensive Shiny Stuff.
3. Funny Amazon Reviews
The holiday season lures many of us to online retailers, and Amazon product reviews have become a huge forum for consumer opinions.
Fortunately, these opinions are not just confined to the obvious pro’s and con’s of the products under discussion. Creative Questions and Answers and reviews can be the source of much good cheer. And what’s not to like about good cheer this time of year?
It’s probably still not good for me, it aggravates my back a little, but within tolerable limits. I stopped because of plantar fasciitis, and before that knee problems, but I seem to be temporarily able to get away with it. Yay for running!
5. Chrome Kitten Extension
Even over the holidays, it is hard to avoid being confronted by The News.
How to deal with graphic, disturbing images that harsh your holiday mellow?
It only works on some news sites, but if you use Chrome as a browser, why would you NOT want every image of Donald Trump replaced by a cute kitten?
If you download the Chrome Make America Kittens Again Extension, at least occasionally the face of the devil incarnate in a news story will be replaced by something like:
Post sponsored by La Crema. See below for more details. I’ve always had a soft spot in my cooking for pearl couscous. Is it the healthiest choice? Not by a long shot. Is it delicious? Yes, yes it is. This small pasta cooks quick, soaks up every flavor, and has a lovely texture. I can’t [...]