How To Be Sane In An Insane World

Send to Kindle
Virginia Creepeer

Virginia Creeper

“All through our gliding journey, on this day as on so many others, a little song runs through my mind. I say song because it passes musically, but it is really just words, a thought that is neither strange nor complex. In fact, how strange it would be not to think it — not to have such music inside one’s head and body, on such an afternoon. What does it mean, say the words, that the earth is so beautiful? And what shall I do about it? What is the gift I should bring to the world? What is the life I should live?
Mary Oliver (from “Flow,” Long Life)

While beautiful and amazingly wonderful things lie all around us, we often forget to notice them, finding ourselves angry, depressed, grieving, living in fear, and unable to make a difference in our horribly screwed up world.

How do we stay sane while thousands of human being are turned back as they seek refuge from war, death, and destruction in their home countries?

Why must we worry about school shootings, bomb threats, and other horrific events that have become a regular new kind of normal?

What can we do about the political voices spewing hatred, prejudice, and racial slurs over the airwaves?

There seems to be no end in sight of things to fear and worry about … the economy, global climate change, finding work, and keeping our families clothed and fed. But instead of making our lives miserable and filled with angst, we can become extra mindful, notice the good things, and spread the gift of positivity every where we go.

Notice the way the wind tosses the autumn leaves about. Hear them as they drop and hit the ground, sometimes silently, other times with a crunch.

Watch the birds gathering together in preparation for their long migration to warmer climes.

Say, Hello, to people you pass on the street. Give them the gift of your best smile. They may be angry, sad or depressed. But knowing that someone has seen them and recognized them as a fellow human being may help them find respite from their troubles, at least for a moment.

Point out the glorious rainbow arcing over the mountains to those who are complaining about the rain.

It doesn’t sound like much, and it may seem like a losing proposition to those who can only see the dark side of things. But being positive amidst the mess we find ourselves in, can make a difference, not only in our own behavior, but in those around us. Laughter is the best medicine and if we can find the humor in a situation and begin to giggle, we’ll often find others joining us, laughing so hard they can’t stand up straight.

We need to stop complaining and when the time comes, go out and vote for those who respect humanity and the struggles we all face. We’re too taken up by the loudest voices who bring us down, rarely noticing the good things happening behind the scenes. Change takes time. Begin to trust that amidst all of the chaos, noise, speed, and destruction we see around us, things can change for the better.

Every day watch the sun rise and be grateful for new beginnings. Hope and trust is present in every moment. Be there to experience it.

These are the things I practice to keep myself from giving up and expecting the worst.  What do you do to keep yourself happy and sane in this maddening world?


My first monthly newsletter will be sent out on October 1st. Do sign up and let me know what you think.


  1. I make a point of not listening to or reading of the news every day. There is just SO MUCH bad news. I find I can maintain a much more positive outlook of humanity and the state of the world that way. The news reports do not depict the numerous person-to-person interactions that show kindness, compassion, or kinship every minute throughout the world. These are the important events, and yet they are the empty pages of history… and of world news.

    Thank you for reminding us to to pause and be grateful and joyful for Beauty in all its forms.

    • Saloma,
      Thanks so much for your input. Almost everyone I know keeps the news at bay because it so disturbing. The media it seems only knows how to report the bad news. There are so many great things going on that we never hear about. Even the Popes visit here this week is marked by a certain negativity by some.

  2. Hi Joan,

    I recently cancelled my cable service since I seldom watched regular TV any more. I stopped watching the news long ago since they not only love to focus on the most horrific stories and hateful incidents, but replay them over and over. That doesn’t mean that the news doesn’t make its way to my awareness via social media, but it limits my exposure.

    To keep my mind pointed to the positive and beautiful things in the world, when my feet hit the floor each morning I start the day by repeating my favorite verse, “This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.” I began this practice after my sister died from multiple sclerosis and I vowed never to take use of my body for granted again.

    Like you, I also enjoy greeting the morning, sometimes by going for a walk and other times just stepping out into the air noting the flowers, trees and listening to the birds. This morning I spotted a V-formation of birds headed southward.

    In addition to being grateful and looking for the good, I also surround myself with positive people, uplifting stories, and inspiring reading such as I always find on your blog.

    Thank you for reminding us that it’s not outside circumstances, but how we choose to focus our attention that determines our level of happiness.

    • Good for you, Flora, for disconnecting from the media all together. Surrounding ourselves with positive people is one of the very best things we can do for ourselves, as well as connecting with nature. We are part of it and some of us forget that fact.

      I like your morning verse. What a wonderful ritual to start the day.

  3. It was worth clicking onto your website today just to see the Virginia Creeper, but then you delivered more encouraging bits. I choose to “Catch joy on the Wing” and “Live under the roof of Hope,” It beats being scared, annoyed, or despairing. Thank you, Joan.

    I just brought in a yellow rose from my patio garden, yellow the color of hope and cheer.

    • Marian, Thanks so much for your kind comments. I love the verses you shared here and both are wonderful for starting the day. As far as being scared, annoyed or despairing, who needs them? Not me. I wish I could see your yellow rose in person.

  4. Joan — Amen siSTAR! There are a wide brushstroke of ways to stay positive, uplifting, constructive, and healing in this world. I like the many suggestions you offered right here – thank you!

    • Thanks, Laurie. My suggestions are only a few that I try to incorporate in my life. Staying away from the media is another one, that is mentioned in the comments as well as choosing to be with positive people. I know I’d hang out with you if you lived closer!

  5. Thanks for this very timely reminder, Joan. As for me, I tend to avoid watching the news, local and national, because they seem to sensationalize all the negative news. I also have learned to avoid people who are “energy vampires”. There are too many positive , caring people in my life to focus on. Life is way too short to waste a minute on people, places and things that drain us of precious energy and joy. I love your post and am looking forward to your newsletter Thank you~

    • Kathy, I love the term, “energy vampires.” I stay as far away as I can from people like that. I’ve had far too many of them in my life and run when I see them coming!

  6. Like many of the others, I stay away from TV news because it is so sensationalized and skewed. I try to be mindful of the ways I spend my time and the people I spend it with. I pay close attention to the small beautiful things around me in nature and in my home. And I read, read, read…takes me to another world.

    This is a perfect and timely post with all that’s going on in the world these days!
    And I’m excited about your newsletter!

    • Becca, Reading is one of my very favorite things to do to keep myself in balance. I wish I had more time for it. And I’m so glad you’ve signed up for my newsletter. I hope you’ll enjoy it.

  7. I too stay away from the news as much as I can. Broadcast news anyway. I try and catch the NYTimes Headlines each morning, and the same for a VT based ePaper, just to stay aware of the world around me. But I also work at remembering where I end and others begin. Like you, I love to walk. I used to swim three times a week and loved the quiet I found in the pool for that hour. But I gave it up to focus on getting the book out. Now that it’s out, …. hmmm. Why Joan, I think you’ve just inspired me anew. Thanks. 🙂