Things are—how shall we say it?—a little bananas these days. Real Simple asked five experts to remind us about some of the good stuff that can get lost in the shuffle.
Libraries Still Exist.
When you’re a child, if your home is perhaps unhappy or else just cramped or dull, and you are too poor for the mall to hold any appeal for you, there is a third, magical space you can go to on a rainy day: the library. A place where you can go without a penny in your pocket and be given a room full of worlds. For each book is a doorway you can walk through into another land. There are a million people, from across the world and through time, who are sitting on those shelves, dying to tell their stories and become your friend. It is a place where you will be valued not for what you wear or how you look, but for how many words you have collected and stored in your head (corybantic, uxorious, shagreen, mimosa). Most important, it’s a place where you can just sit on a chair and read all the rude bits from Judy Blume books. And we invented these facilities! We made them happen. How cool is that? This is humanity’s greatest achievement. — Caitlin Moran
We’re Not Alone.
In my work with grieving kids, I am confronted with the fact that terrible tragedies happen both in our world and in our personal lives every single day. But I also get the privilege of witnessing kids starting to smile and laugh again with the support of their peers. In a group of people with similar experiences, they not only feel more “normal” but also feel understood, validated, and inspired. A newer kid can see someone who has been through the process and say, “Wow, look how far he’s come. I can do that, too.” Just by being together, we can lift each other up. — Jill MacFarlane
Beauty Surrounds Us.
We can create joyous experiences for ourselves anyplace, but heading outside brings a special magic. Studies have found that being in nature actually changes your brain physiology. In Japan, they have “forest bathing,” or shinrin-yoku, where they create parks for people to get out of the city and take a walk to escape. Being in nature improves your mood and gives you a better sense of balance and meaning in your life. And it is something that is available to all of us. You feel better about yourself and the world when you’re out in a beautiful spot. — Janice Kaplan
We Have the Power to Change Our Perspective.
There is this idea in couples therapy that if you could get couples to be nicer to each other, you could turn things around for them. But research suggests that it isn’t so much about being nicer; it’s about learning to notice when your partner is being kind. The problem is, we see what we’re looking for, and many of us focus on the negative—both in our relationships and in life. The good news is, we can flip this. We can seek out what is going well and call it out. Maybe it is listing three things that you are grateful for that day; maybe it’s sending your partner a text to let him know that you’re thinking of him. But we have to make that choice. — Zach Brittle
We Look Out for Each Other.
A few winters ago, my husband and I were walking to dinner in Chicago on a very cold and very snowy night, which is pretty much what all Chicago evenings in the winter are like. I foolishly walked out of the house without a hat—we were only going a few blocks—and I was freezing. I was walking down the street with my hands cuffed over my ears and, at a stoplight, this young man—he was maybe 25 years old or so—looked at me and said, “Would you like this hat? You look cold.” He made such an impression on me. Just a human being at his best, in a very, very simple way. — Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Caitlin Moran is The New York Times best-selling author of How to Be a Woman and, out this month, Moranifesto. Her hit UK sitcom, Raised by Wolves, will soon be adapted for American television by Diablo Cody. She lives in London.
Jill MacFarlane is the program director at the Sharing Place, an organization that provides grief support for children and their families in Salt Lake City.
Janice Kaplan is the author of The New York Times best seller The Gratitude Diaries. She divides her time between Connecticut and New York City.
Amy Krouse Rosenthal is the author of more than 30 children’s books and the memoirs Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life and Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal (out this fall). She resides digitally at whoisamy.com and for real in Chicago.