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Its been 283 days, give or take, since our lives went into pandemic mode. At this point, you can’t blame family or friends for getting antsy, anxious, or even going batshit* crazy over never-ending social distancing. So what can you do to help their situation? Aside from radical acceptance and understanding, here are some gift ideas designed to lift their spirits and/or shake them out of their Covid disgruntlement.

1. Think a member of your household is slowly going mad from isolation? Why not get them the gift that helps probe their unconscious and get at their deep-seated feelings? You never know what might emerge from this couch time.

2.  Looking back, it sure would have been good to know what was coming in 2020. Why leave next year to chance? Turning to a trusty Ouija board to communicate with the spirit channel may help uncover what new challenges — and opportunities — await.

3.  As Todd Rundgren surmised, it’s hard to be anxious and depressed when playing the drums. No room in the studio apartment for a 16-piece kit?  Bongos are just the thing.  Need an instructor? How about world-class percussionist Sheila E. According to “E,” she’ll have a student grooving so fast, a job as a touring musician may be on the horizon once the pandemic’s over.


4. Nothing sends out good vibes like an authentic SuperOptimist t-shirt. Here’s one that offers a positive greeting to all those fortunate enough to come into contact with the wearer, even if it’s just family, zoom meeting colleagues, or pet iguana. Plus it’s accented with a pineapple, the most historically valid symbol of hospitality of any fruit or vegetable.

5. If the receiver of your gift has had it with the digital domain, what about a good book to while away their hours? “Sironia Texas” by Madison Cooper is one of the longest novels ever written at 1,731 pages. For a slow reader, this two-volume set about a small town during the early 1900s should provide enough distraction to make it clear through April.

6. And don’t forget yourself, as you settle in for another evening of Netflix, Prime, Hulu, Peacock, Youtube, Disney+, HBO Max, Sling, Twitch, Crackle, and Crunchyroll. A Danny DeVito pillow to hug to your chest when you realize it might be another 40 weeks until it’s your turn for the vaccine is just what you need to meet the moment.

Until next time, we wish you and yours glad tidings of great joy, no matter what the circumstance!

*BONUS SELFLESS GIFT: Bats have had a tough 2020, taking some of the heat for the virus that’s caused a world of hurt. But it’s not their fault that the Chinese handle them with such disdain. The fact is, it’s human interference with these helpful creatures that’s at the root of the problem. Hundreds of plant species rely on bats for pollination and insect-eating bats save farmers billions each year by reducing crop damage. Show these creatures vital to our ecosystem that there’s no hard feelings by giving a donation to batcon.org in your loved one’s name.

Quit vaping. Start making big money in the stock market. Quit dating losers. Start learning how to code.
2020 is here, and with it the pressure to halt all our bad habits, right all our wrongs, improve our posture and lose 15 pounds.
But is attempting the impossible the best way to start the day, much less the decade? And what’s wrong with eating gourmet chocolate while watching reruns of “30 Rock” anyhow?
Here’s the resolution the SuperOptimist always adopts, whether it’s New Year’s Day, Arbor Day, All Saint’s Day, or just another Wednesday: “All is well, life is swell, and I’m good just the way I am.”
By starting the new year accepting every screw-up, flaw, and mistake as the price of being human, you have a 130% better chance of enjoying the first days of the new year.  So ignore all those life coaches with their exhortations to improve everything about yourself.  If they want to drink celery juice and get on the scale five times a day, that’s their problem, not yours!
Remember, the definition of resolution is “the firm decision to do or not do something.” Why not make a firm decision to make no decisions about your future, and enjoy the first month of the year without putting undo pressure on yourself?
By starting 2020 this way, you might find this turns out to be “your year” after all.*
*If you are compelled to figure out how to improve your life in 2020, we suggest looking back on what worked in 2019.  Here’s a short quiz to separate the pluses from the minuses. By doubling down on the good stuff, you’ll assure yourself of more personal victories in the coming year.
MY PERFORMANCE REVIEW 2019 
 What was the best thing I experienced in 2019?
 What was a huge waste of my energy?
 What activity gave me the most pleasure?
 What was my bravest failure?
 What can I try that I haven’t?
 What error can I avoid now that I see it?
 What did I fear in 2019 that I survived?
 Did I handle the bad shit well?
 How many times did I feel joy?
 Who did I like hanging out with?
 Who would I prefer never seeing again?

Lots of people play it safe as they age, and for good reason. “Safe” seems to be a wiser choice than “sorry.” But could it be that we actually have that backwards?

Adhering to a predetermined routine means you know pretty much what each day is going to bring, even before you live it.  In the meantime, the world around you is constantly changing, so the safe path you follow may be more uncertain than you think.

So how do we prevent ourselves from becoming ossified? To begin, The SuperOptimist recommends scheduling at least two risks a week into your calendar. But you don’t have to go skydiving right away. Try a few with a relatively high probability of success to start. Forgo the usual grape jelly and make yourself a peanut butter and honey sandwich instead. Break the routine and stroll down a different block on your way to the office. Turn off CNN and watch a video that offers insight into the nature of chance and probability.* Set your alarm for 5:00 am one morning and take in the sun rise. (Odds you can pull this off and not snooze alarm yourself back to 6:30? Let’s say 3 to 1).

Getting the hang of it?  Now you’re ready to double down on risk, where your adrenals kick up a notch and your sweat glands activate as you actually experience the shock of the new. Take a month’s pay and visit your local casino for a few spins of the roulette wheel. You could win enough to pay off your mortgage, or you might find yourself without any money for next week’s grocery tab. Audition for an off-off Broadway show, despite your lack of acting experience. Your long shot might pay off in a featured role, or you could be driven from the theater with catcalls and brickbats.  Approach a stranger and say hello.  It could spark a new friendship.  Or maybe not.

No matter what happens, the chance of you coming out on top is 100%! That’s because whether you win or lose, succeed or fail, you get to face your fears, collect more information for the next time, and have a swell story to tell your friends back at the salad bar, water cooler, or locker room (where they’re doing exactly what they did yesterday. But not you!).

Want to know more about the benefits of risktaking? Here’s what a cognitive researcher from Carnegie Mellon has written on the subject, and here’s why risk-takers are a smarter breed of human, according to scientists in Finland.

Vive la difference, et bonne chance pour la nouvelle année!

*Other words to add to your vocabulary include: odds, uncertainty, randomness, fortune, fate, hazard, unpredictability, and surprise.