If you have suffered from ' lowness of spirits', life can seem like a dark tunnel with any light ahead an unimaginable distance away.
I have had my battles with the 'black dog' in the past but am generally feeling content and happy at present. Today however, the late January weather has dampened even my relentless optimism and cheerfulness.
I have recently re-discovered these wonderful words with their sound advice and I am sharing them if you too are finding yourself down-hearted and gloomy due to endlessly pouring rain, wild winds and dark days.
In 1820, English writer Sydney Smith wrote a letter to an unhappy friend, Lady Morpeth, in which he offered her tips for cheering up. His suggestions are as sound now as they were almost 200 years ago.
“1st. Live as well as you dare.
2nd. Go into the shower-bath with a small quantity of water at a temperature low enough to give you a slight sensation of cold, 75 or 80 degrees.
3rd. Amusing books.
4th. Short views of human life—not further than dinner or tea.
5th. Be as busy as you can.
6th. See as much as you can of those friends who respect and like you.
7th. And of those acquaintances who amuse you.
8th. Make no secret of low spirits to you friends, but talk of them freely—they are always worse for dignified concealment.
9th. Attend to the effects tea and coffee produce upon you.
10th. Compare your lot with that of other people.
11th. Don’t expect too much from human life—a sorry business at the best.
12th. Avoid poetry, dramatic representations (except comedy), music, serious novels, melancholy, sentimental people, and everything likely to excite feeling or emotion, not ending in active benevolence.
13th. Do good, and endeavour to please everybody of every degree.
14th Be as much as you can in the open air without fatigue.
15th. Make the room where you commonly sit gay and pleasant.
16th. Struggle by little and little against idleness.
17th. Don’t be too severe upon yourself, or underrate yourself, but do yourself justice.
18th. Keep good blazing fires.
19th. Be firm and constant in the exercise of rational religion.
20th. Believe me, dear Lady Georgiana.”
I love the writings of Sydney Smith and read the above piece at my Father's funeral, as I felt it was just the sort of advice he would be giving us all in our sadness.
(With thanks to my son Sam Arnold: I snaffled his beautiful photograph of Venice)