“If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.” | A Holiday Season Primer

How to treat depression

Um, it’s here. With Thanksgiving Day at our doorsteps, the holiday season has arrived. Tens of millions are gleefully all over it, visions of sugar-plums dancing in their heads. Yeah, but my money says tens of millions enduring a mood or anxiety disorder are settling their brains for a long winter’s nap…

And I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, ‘If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.’ Kurt Vonnegut

Just doesn’t seem right, does it? I mean, it’s not as though living with mood or anxiety woes isn’t tough enough. But then on comes this overlay of holiday season expectations that take many of us to cold and dark places.

Oh, it isn’t that we’re shallow and heartless. Far from it. Nah, due to varied combinations of genetics, temperament, and life experience, the holiday season can be, well, hard.

I dunno’, I think that’s understandable, and merits acceptance – at the very least from self.

Don’t you?

Still, acceptance doesn’t equate to acquiescence. So I’m issuing a challenge – to all of us – to do our best to open our hearts and minds to even a small slice of the season.

‘Course, that’ll mean buying-in to some gratitude, sharing, lightness, and love.

Author Kurt Vonnegut made a habit of sharing his experiences with his Uncle Alex. In a 1999 graduation address, he offered…

One of the things Uncle Alex found objectionable about human beings was that they so rarely noticed it when they were happy. He himself did his best to acknowledge it when times were sweet. We could be drinking lemonade in the shade of an apple tree in the summertime, and Uncle Alex would interrupt the conversation to say, ‘If this isn’t nice, what is?’

So I hope that you will do the same for the rest of your lives. When things are going sweetly and peacefully, please pause a moment, and then say out loud, ‘If this isn’t nice, what is?’

Vonnegut streamlined the concept in his 2005 book A Man Without a Country

And I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, ‘If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.’

Okay, so I’m not suggesting we go all “Uncle Alex” 24/7 for the next five weeks. But maybe a time or two wouldn’t be such a bad idea.

Sure, the holiday season is here. Visions of sugar-plums? Unnecessary. That long winter’s nap? Let’s try to shorten it.

So up-and-out of our cold and dark places, even for a moment. And maybe just one “Uncle Alex?”

Let’s roll!

Happy Holidays, Chipur Reader…

Hey! Would you like to review more Chipur titles? ‘Tis the season.

  • npeden November 26, 2015, 10:48 pm

    sorry, couldn’t do it today. there is nothing or very little i can eat due to genetic illness. i am a little surprised at your just cheer up and appreciate it all when many are alone and hungry, not just me. this is a very fake us holiday season that now plagues the world. i will distract myself as your post implies, do charity work, even when i need charity. for me holidays mean nothing but grief. my ex called today; i may get some money but not in time for rent. oh, well, ho ho ho…

    • Chipur November 27, 2015, 10:40 am

      Well, I’m just full of surprises, Nancy. Hmmm, I had three choices when it came to addressing a very real seasonal dilemma: ignore the elephant in the room, encourage everyone to be miserable, offer some sort of alternative insight and encourage even a measure of gratitude and joy – after all, most of us woke-up on the sky side of ground. I chose the latter.

      Hoping things improve…

      • npeden November 27, 2015, 11:10 pm

        sorry i was not able to feel gratitude beyond my mental heath helpers and all of nature. shopping? don’t get it.

      • Chipur November 28, 2015, 10:33 am

        No need to apologize, Nancy. No need, at all. I’m glad to know – for your sake – that you can feel a measure of gratitude re your mental health helpers and all of nature. It’s something, ya’ know?

        I realize so many things suck just now (and don’t make the mistake of believing all is 100% warm/fuzzy on this side of the fence). Still, we have to latch-on to all the positive energy we can to carry us through the crap. I know this article may come off as holiday season super-sweet eggnog; however, as syrupy as it may be perceived, the point is solid. If any of us choose to remain in our cold and dark places, our gooses are cooked.

        I always appreciate your visits and contributions, Nancy. And I respect your struggles…


  • npeden November 28, 2015, 11:26 am

    I am back and awhile ago I did shop and bought a little chromebook then a mouse. The mouse isn’t suppossed to work with this but a very dear friend had the patience to help me try to connect it and it worked. As much as the electronics give me joy, this friend who had the energy and patience I did not have, gave me so much more. I will get out today and docent at a historic adobe and if I have time this week, I may help them decorate for Christmas. So here is my joy of this holiday. I send joy to all and deeply feel gratitude to friends and helpers.

    • Chipur November 28, 2015, 6:14 pm

      Thanks for the update, Nancy. Joy – and feelings of gratitude – right back atcha’…