The eight golden guidelines for surviving practically any situation.

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The eight golden guidelines for surviving practically any situation.

One stressed writer on how to stay cheerful, whether it’s imitating your puppy or fooling around in puddles…

My New Year’s Eve 2019 was spent with my husband, Ben, and our son, daughter, and two nieces in a ski resort in the French Pyrenees, eating oysters, salmon, and local cheeses while drinking Champagne with people I love.

In what already feels like a sepia-tinged photo from a more carefree time, we greeted 2020 by expressing our ambitions for the year – projects for job, study, and vacation – in what already feels like a sepia-tinged snapshot from a more carefree time.

The following New Year’s Eve was spent alone in London, beneath my duvet, self-isolating and waiting for the results of a Covid test I expected to be positive but which, after a six-day wait, turned out to be negative. I ate a spaghetti dish on a tray with a terrible lack of gratitude for Ben, who had prepared and delivered it.

As midnight neared, I sat in front of the TV, angry at the world, with Ben’s bed put up in the spare room. Six days in one room is a long time. My 40-degree temperature, as well as the sweats and shivering, had subsided by this point, but I, like everyone else, had seen my life as I knew it snatched away, and I was finding it difficult to accept.

My friends would tell you that I am an easygoing person and an everlasting optimist in my normal life, my pre-pandemic real life. But nine months of poring over numbers and second-guessing every action had taken its toll.

I was snapping over the simplest things as we headed into yet another national lockdown, this one even longer than the first. My children’s philosophical debates regarding social distancing were devolving into full-fledged arguments. At the risk of sounding like a Monty Python song, I’ve always believed in looking on the bright side of life – but it required a lot of effort at this point.

Don’t get me wrong: I was well aware of my good fortune. I wasn’t one of those people who put their life on the line to help the rest of us, and I wasn’t dealing with the loss of either my job or a loved one. I was a writer who had been working from home for a long time. “Brinkwire Summary News,” part I.

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