Tip #1: Read and Reread

Everything—everything significant that had earlier caught one’s attention—should be reread… The main impression you got from reading books in Leningrad during the Siege was the enormity of the world, as opposed to the cramped, cold, dark room in which you sit by the guttering wick of an oil lamp. – Polina Barskova, Besieged Leningrad

Tip #2: Cultivate Modest Hopes

If protest depended on success, there would be little protest of any durability or significance. History simply affords too little evidence that anyone’s individual protest is of any use. Protest that endures, I think, is moved by a hope far more modest than that of public success: namely, the hope of preserving qualities in one’s own heart and spirit that would be destroyed by acquiescence. – Wendell Berry, What Are People For?

Tip #3: Observe the Weather

Our perfunctory observations on what kind of day it is, are perhaps not idle. Perhaps we have a deep and legitimate need to know in our entire being what the day is like, to see it and feel it, to know how the sky is grey, paler in the south, with patches of blue in the southwest, with snow on the ground, and the thermometer at 18, and cold wind making your ears ache. I have a real need to know these things because I myself am part of the weather and part of the climate and part of the place, and a day in which I have not shared truly in all this is no day at all. – Thomas Merton, The Collected Journals

Tip #4: Give Presents

There was no water, no gas, no heat, no electricity. No glass in the windows. But we were very sociable and friendly at that time. We looked after each other. One time a neighbor made me a little pie for my birthday, not baked, and gave it to me wrapped up with a string. – Alma Alic, Bosnian War Survivor

Tip #5: Look at the Sky

Just try it once — a tree, or at least a considerable section of sky, is to be seen anywhere. It does not even have to be blue sky; in some way or another the light of the sun always makes itself felt. Accustom yourself every morning to look for a moment at the sky and suddenly you will be aware of the air around you, the scent of morning freshness that is bestowed on you between sleep and labor. You will find every day that the gable of every house has its own particular look, its own special lighting. Pay it some heed if you will have for the rest of the day a remnant of satisfaction and a touch of coexistence with nature. – Hermann Hesse, My Belief: Essays on Life and Art

Tip #6: Structure Your Days

Roald Amundsen was the most successful of all explorers; he always made it to his destination. First to the Northwest Passage. First to the South Pole. In 1923 he was on two Dornier flying boats to fly over the North Pole. One of them developed problems and had to land. It crash-landed. The other one landed. They spent two weeks on the ice, leveling with wooden spoons an airfield for them to take off. Amundsen structured every moment of every day. The hours of work, the hours of eating, the hours of sleep, the hours for talking, for smoking, everything. He was in charge, and he made himself known to be in charge and organized everything. When they returned to Norway two weeks later, of course everyone thought he had died in the ice, and it was a wonderful welcome. – Jack Stuster, Bold Endeavors

Tip #7: Examine Your Schedule

How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing. A schedule defends from chaos and whim. It is a net for catching days. It is a scaffolding on which a worker can stand and labor with both hands at sections of time. A schedule is a mock-up of reason and order—willed, faked, and so brought into being; it is a peace and a haven set into the wreck of time; it is a lifeboat on which you find yourself, decades later, still living. – Annie Dillard, The Writing Life

Tip #8: Notice What You Have

There are very few men and women, I suspect, who cooked and marketed their way through the past war without losing forever some of the nonchalant extravagance of the Twenties. They will feel, until their final days on earth, a kind of culinary caution: butter, no matter how unlimited, is a precious substance not lightly to be wasted; meats, too, and eggs, and all the far-brought spices of the world, take on a new significance, having once been so rare. And that is good, for there can be no more shameful carelessness than with the food we eat for life itself. – M.F.K. Fisher, How to Cook A Wolf

Tip #9: Learn Something

The best thing for being sad… is to learn something. That is the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honor trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then — to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. – T.H. White, The Once and Future King

Tip #10: Search Obliquely

The search for meaning, much like the search for pleasure, must be conducted obliquely. Meaning ensues from meaningful activity: the more we deliberately pursue it, the less likely are we to find it; the rational questions one can pose about meaning will always outlast the answers. – Irving D. Yalom, Love’s Executioner

Tip #11: Form Weak Bonds

People with varied social connections—not just individuals with a few close relationships, but those regular interactions with the larger communities in which they live—have a distinct survival advantage. Joining groups that allow you to form those weak bonds helps individuals in two ways. It promotes regular social contact with a diverse group of people, which we know is protective…In addition, weak bonds provide a source of helpful tidbits of information that strong bonds often don’t. The reason? We often share the same background and types of knowledge with our close friends and family members. People who are more distantly connected to us have access to different banks of information. – Susan Pinker, The Village Effect

Tip #12: Listen Sympathetically

The world is filled with polite, shy, inscrutable, unintelligible, tight lipped, superficial, dishonest and also honest people who for one reason or another do not say what they think. The search for freedom of speech has barely begun. Many do not reveal their thoughts because they are not sure what they think. Many would be braver in their speech if they were more certain of a sympathetic hearing. Many, particularly in places where success depends on conformity, are schooled to be hypocrites. The hidden thoughts in other people’s heads are the great darkness that surrounds us. – Theodore Zeldin, The Hidden Pleasures of Life

Tip #13: Help Someone

Helping someone else is the best way to ensure your own survival. It takes you out of yourself. It helps you to rise above your fears. Now you’re a rescuer, not a victim. – Laurence Gonzales, Deep Survival

Tip #14: Be Like A Plant

The condition of being good is that it should always be possible for you to be morally destroyed by something you couldn’t prevent. To be a good human being is to have a kind of openness to the world, an ability to trust uncertain things beyond your own control, that can lead you to be shattered in very extreme circumstances for which you were not to blame. That says something very important about the human condition of the ethical life: that it is based on a trust in the uncertain and on a willingness to be exposed; it’s based on being more like a plant than like a jewel, something rather fragile, but whose very particular beauty is inseparable from its fragility. – Martha Nussbaum, The World of Ideas (ed. Moyers)

Tip #15: Forget Heroism

I have to tell you this: this whole thing is not about heroism. It’s about decency. It may seem a ridiculous idea, but the only way to fight the plague is with decency. – Albert Camus, The Plague

Tip #16: Lie Low

Engage people with what they expect; it is what they are able to discern and confirms their projections. It settles them into predictable patterns of response, occupying their minds while you wait for the extraordinary moment — that which they cannot anticipate. – Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Tip #17: Look for Models

During the war, people voraciously read War and Peace as a way of checking themselves (And not Tolstoy whose validity was never doubted) and then the reader said to him or herself: so, it means what I’m feeling is correct; that’s how it is. – Lidyia Ginsberg, Blockade Diary

Tip #18: Huddle Together

Gather together in one room, hang blankets over the windows, cover the floor with rugs and build a den under a table to keep warm. – Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency, “In Case of Crisis or War…”

Tip #19: Anticipate Fears

Don’t pretend that you will have no fears. Begin thinking about what would frighten you the most if forced to survive alone. Train in those areas of concern to you. The goal is not to eliminate the fear, but to build confidence in your ability to function despite your fears. – The Army Survival Training Guide

Tip #20: Carry It In Your Head

The culture that’s going to survive in the future is the culture that you can carry around in your head. – Nam June Paik, “Love is the Message, the Plan is Death”

Tip #21: Prearrange Reunions

If, as they say, poetry is a sign of something
among people, then let this be prearranged now,
between us, while we are still peoples: that
at the end of time, which is also the end of poetry
(and wheat and evil and insects and love),
when the entire human race gathers in the flesh,
reconstituted down to the infant’s tiniest fold
and littlest nail, I will be standing at the edge
of that fathomless crown with an orange for you,
reconstituted down to its innermost seed protected
by white thread, in case you are thirsty, which
does not at this time seem like such a wild guess,
and though there will be no poetry between us then,
at the end of time, the geese all gone with the seas,
I hope you will take it, and remember on earth
I did not know how to touch it it was all so raw,
as if by chance there is no edge to the crowd
or anything else so that I am of it,
I will take the orange and toss it as high as I can. – Mary Ruefle, “Kiss of the Sun”

Tip #22: Be Hopeful, Not Optimistic

Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out. In short, I think that the deepest and most important form of hope, the only one that can keep us above water and urge us to good works, and the only true source of the breathtaking dimension of the human spirit and its efforts, is something we get, as it were, from “elsewhere.” It is also this hope, above all, which gives us the strength to live and continually to try new things, even in conditions that seem as hopeless as ours do, here and now. – Vaclav Havel, Disturbing the Peace

Tip #23: Consider the Stars

You know the reason I love the stars is because we can’t hurt them: we can’t burn them, we can’t melt them , we can’t make them overflow, we can’t flood them or burn them up… – Laurie Anderson, “Another Day in America”

Tip #24: Wait for Calm

The one thread that was most surprising and most consistent was the lack of fear that people felt at the worst moment. They felt a lot of fear in early stages, when they’re just realizing what’s happening. But then things really seemed to be at their peak of terror, the fear went away. You can imagine why that’s useful. At that moment your brain needs to focus all its attention on surviving, so people will feel a sense of calm as their brain tries to sort out a plan. – Amanda Ripley, The Unthinkable

Tip #25: Split Your Soul

The way to make use of physical pain. When suffering no matter what degree of pain, when almost the entire soul is inwardly crying “Make it stop, I can bear no more,” a part of the soul, even though it be an infinitesimally small part, should say: “I consent that this should continue throughout the whole of time, if the divine wisdom so ordains.” The soul is then split in two. For the physically sentient part of the soul is — at least sometimes — unable to consent to pain. This splitting in two of the soul is a second pain, a spiritual one, and even sharper than the physical pain that causes it. – Simone Weil, First and Last Notebooks

Tip #26: Create the Beloved Community

Nonviolence … does not seek to defeat or humiliate the opponent, but to win his friendship and understanding. The nonviolent resister must often express his protest through noncooperation or boycotts, but he realizes that these are not ends themselves; they are merely means to awaken a sense of moral shame in the opponent. The end is redemption and reconciliation. The aftermath of nonviolence is the creation of the beloved community, while the aftermath of violence is tragic bitterness. – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “Non-violence and Racial Justice”

Tip #27: Expect A Movement

None of us can predict when the causes we support will capture the public imagination, and our once-lonely quests become popular crusades. – Paul Rogat Loeb, The Soul of a Citizen

Tip #28: Garden Somewhere

One of the most important resources that a garden makes available for use, is the gardener’s own body. A garden gives the body the dignity of working in its own support. It is a way of rejoining the human race. – Wendell Berry, The Gift of Good Land

Tip #29: Bite Your Tongue
Is your cucumber bitter? Throw it away. Are there briars in your path? Turn aside. That is enough. Do not go on and say, “Why were things of this sort ever brought into this world?” – Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Tip #30: Look for Openings

It’s important to say what hope is not: it is not the belief that everything was, is, or will be fine. The evidence is all around us of tremendous suffering and tremendous destruction. The hope I’m interested in is about broad perspectives with specific possibilities, ones that invite or demand that we act. It’s also not a sunny everything-is-getting-better narrative, though it may be a counter to the everything-is-getting-worse narrative. You could call it an account of complexities and uncertainties, with openings. – Rebecca Solnit, Hope in Dark Times

Tip #31: Participate in Rituals

We talk in this country often about property rights, but we talk more rarely about the shares people have in each other’s lives, and about people’s rights to participation and pleasure, especially at the moments of passage: the right to throw a handful of earth on a coffin, the right to stand up to catch a tossed bouquet and dream of one’s own future wedding, to kiss a bride or groom and to hold a newborn. – Mary Catherine Bateson, In a Daughter’s Eye

Tip #32: Introduce Yourself

Know the ways of the ones who take care of you, so that you may take care of them. Introduce yourself. Be accountable as the one who comes asking for life. Ask permission before taking. Abide by the answer. Never take the first. Never take the last. – Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass

Tip #33: Write Stories

When I write stories I am like someone who is in her own country, walking along streets that she has known since she was a child, between walls and trees that are hers. – Natalia Ginsberg, The Little Virtues

Tip #34: Cross Disciplines

I propose that English poetry and biology should be taught as usual, but that at irregular intervals, poetry students should find dogfishes on their desks and biology students should find Shakespeare sonnets on their dissecting boards. I am serious in declaring that a Sarah Lawrence English major who began poking about in a dogfish with a bobby pin would learn more in thirty minutes than a biology major in a whole semester; and that the latter upon reading on her dissecting board That time of year Thou may’st in me behold When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang Upon those boughs which shake against the cold– Bare ruin’d choirs where late the sweet birds sang might catch fire at the beauty of it. – Walker Percy, Message in a Bottle

Tip #35: Question the Imperative

Western society has accepted as unquestionable a technological imperative that is quite as arbitrary as the most primitive taboo: not merely the duty to foster invention and constantly to create technological novelties, but equally the duty to surrender to these novelties unconditionally, just because they are offered, without respect to their human consequences. – Lewis Mumford, “The Technological Imperative”

Tip #36: Beware Self-Deception

Everybody had a ready-made phrase: “That cannot last long.” But I remembered a conversation with my publisher in Leningrad on my short trip to Russia. He had been telling me how rich he had once been, what beautiful paintings he had owned and I asked him why he had not left Russia immediately on the outbreak of the revolution as so many others had done. “Ah,” he answered, “who would have believed that such a thing could last longer than a fortnight?” It was the self deception that we practice because of reluctance to abandon our accustomed life.” – Stefan Zweig, The World Yesterday

Tip #37: Range Farther for Meaning

Amythia is a term coined by Loyal Rue, a philosopher and self-described natural historian of culture. It denotes a cultural condition in which individuals are unable to locate the meaning of their experiences and actions in the context of anything greater than themselves their immediate families and their own times. – Connie Barlow, Green Space, Green Time

Tip #38: Abandon Half-Measures

Owing to past neglect, in the face of the plainest warnings, we have now entered upon a period of danger … The era of procrastination, of half-measures, of soothing and baffling expedients, of delays, is coming to its close. In its place we are entering a period of consequences … We cannot avoid this period; we are in it now. – Winston Churchill, Churchill Speaks: 1897-1963

Tip #39: Whistle in the Dark

Most of us, no matter what we say, are walking in the dark, whistling in the dark. Nobody knows what is going to happen to him from one moment to the next, or how one will bear it. This is irreducible. And it’s true of everybody. Now, it is true that the nature of society is to create, among its citizens, an illusion of safety; but it is also absolutely true that the safety is always necessarily an illusion. – James Baldwin, Conversations with James Baldwin

Tip #40: Distrust The Wise

the wise know nothing at all
well maybe one song – Ikkyū, Crow With No Mouth

Tip #41: Perform Reasonable Acts

At the very moment when the world seems to break up we still take it seriously and perform reasonable acts and undertakings, the condemned man still drinks his glass of rum. To call it every day and condemn it as inauthentic is to fail to recognize the sincerity of hunger and thirst. – Emmanuel Levinas, Existence and Existents

Tip #42: Answer the Call

Yes, it looks bleak. But you are still alive now. You are alive with all the others, in this present moment. And because the truth is speaking in the work, it unlocks the heart. And there’s such a feeling and experience of adventure. It’s like a trumpet call to a great adventure. In all great adventures there comes a time when the little band of heroes feels totally outnumbered and bleak, like Frodo in Lord of the Rings or Pilgrim in Pilgrim’s Progress. You learn to say ‘It looks bleak. Big deal, it looks bleak. – Joanna Macy, How to Prepare for Whatever Comes Next

Tip #43: Listen to Parables

The Lord was in a den with a pack of wolves. You really are so intelligent, the Lord said, and have such glorious eyes. Why do you think you’re hounded so? It’s like they want to exterminate you, it’s awful. Well, sometimes it’s the calves and the cows, the wolves said. Oh those maddening cows, the Lord said. I have a suggestion. What if I caused you not to have a taste for them anymore? It wouldn’t matter. Then it would be the deer or the elk. Have you seen the bumper stickers on the hunters’ trucks—DID A WOLF GET YOUR ELK? I guess I missed that, the Lord said. Sentiment is very much against us down here, the wolves said. I’m so awfully sorry, the Lord said. Thank you for inviting us to participate in your plan anyway, the wolves said politely. The Lord did not want to appear addled, but what was the plan His sons were referring to exactly? – Joy Williams, 99 Stories About Go

Tip #44: Restore the Kingdom

In a myth or a fairy tale one doesn’t restore the kingdom by passivity, nor can it be done by force. It can’t be done by logic or thought. So how can it be done?

Monsters and dangerous tasks seem to be part of it. Courage and terror and failure or what seems like failure, and then hopelessness and the approach of death convincingly. The happy ending is hardly important, though we may be glad it’s there. The real joy is knowing that if you felt the trouble in the story, your kingdom isn’t dead. – Lynda Barry, What It Is

Tip #45: Make Wishes for the New Year

May the new one bring us good fortune, a safe deliverance from this anxious time and all good things to those we love so far away. – Ernest Shackleton, Collected Letters

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