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Nineteen Tips for Cheering Yourself Up -- from 200 Years Ago.

Posted Feb 03 2010 1:01pm
Quillpen

Every Wednesday is Tip Day.
This Wednesday: 19 tips for cheering yourself up -- from two hundred years ago.

I've posted this list before, but I love it, so am supplying it again. I read it in a biography of the English writer Sydney Smith, in Hesketh Pearson’s The Smith of Smiths. In 1820, Smith wrote a letter to an unhappy friend, Lady Morpeth, in which he offered her tips for cheering up.

I have my own variety of tips lists for cheering up, and I was interested to hear what someone from two centuries ago would recommend. Most of Smith's suggestions are as sound now as they were almost 200 years ago -- "attend to the effects tea and coffee produce upon you" for example, is thoroughly modern. A few, though, are amusingly odd. It might be tougher today to work "good blazing fires" into everyday life.

My favorites are #1, 3, 6, 13, 15, 16, and 17.

“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 your 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.”

What rings true for you?

* I get the free monthly email newsletter from Ben Dean's Coaching Toward Happiness, and from it, have gotten some great happiness-related information and reading recommendations.

* It’s Word-of-Mouth Day, when I gently encourage (or, you might think, pester) you to spread the word about the Happiness Project. You might:
-- Forward the link to someone you think would be interested
-- Link to a post on Twitter (follow me @gretchenrubin)
-- Sign up for my free monthly newsletter (about 37,000 people get it)
-- Buy the book
-- Join the 2010 Happiness Challenge to make 2010 a happier year
-- Put a link to the blog in your Facebook status update
-- Watch the one-minute book video
Thanks! I really appreciate any help. Word of mouth is the BEST.

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