If you find yourself despairing about your life, job, height, personal problems, haircut, etc... you can play the "but I could be..." game, which involves reminding yourself how much more miserable most people are than you and with much better reason. There are, for example, children working in mines. I realize there are levels of terribleness worse even than that, but for some reason, that's the thought I return to in moments of profound self-pity. "So you missed Masterchef this week. Suck it up. There are children working in mines."
You can also choose to adopt a cosmic perspective in order to scare your blues away. Or at least, to scare away the blues you started out with. A few days ago, while contentedly contemplating the imminent collapse of Europe and the inevitability of my own death (you can contemplate both if you cut down on outside distractions), I came across this tweet from Neil deGrasse Tyson, American astrophysicist and all-around amiable gent:
"In 5-billion yrs the Sun will expand & engulf our orbit as the charred ember that was once Earth vaporizes. Have a nice day."
The really great thing about this observation is that most attempts to not worry about it end up bringing you right back around to the fact of your own inevitable death: what difference will it make if the earth is destroyed in five billion years? You will most likely be dead. And yet, I find it worrisome.
So if you're trying to put your own trials and sufferings in perspective, try one or both of the following strategies:
1) remind yourself that the world is fairly bursting with miseries that make yours seem insignificant; and/or,
2) remind yourself that the world will not always be bursting with miseries, because at some point, perhaps five billion years from now, it will cease to exist.
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