Today I will seek happiness. There’s a bit that used to annoy me in AA’s Just for Today card: “Just for today I will be happy. Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be.” As a person who experiences depression, this irritated me.

Today I will seek happiness. I can notice the good stuff and deal with the bad stuff. Gratitude lists help; I often start with ‘warm, dry feet’ as something I’m grateful for. If I have warm dry feet, it implies that my basic needs are being met. I usually list things like friends, housing, hobbies that I enjoy.

What are you glad about today?


You’re at a social gathering. You’ve been out of paid work for a long time (on the sick/caring responsibilities/long-term unemployed etc.) or maybe you have a job that is controversial or low-status. Someone you don’t know well asks you:

“What do you do?”

WAIT. Stop. Go back in time and prepare for this question.

Keep this in mind: Most people will be asking this as a way just to talk to you. They want to find an ‘in’; it is a small-talk question that is intended to be used as a starting point. ‘Oh, so you’re a [x worker]? That’s interesting! I do x thing and my friend is a y worker, which is quite similar.’

A minority of people will ask this question partly in order to judge your social status. Some of these people will have some relatively valid reason or excuse for this (poor people stole my Grandmother!), but some of them are just dickwads.

If you are like me, your first assumption is that people are asking that question in order to judge you. You think that they will judge you and find you wanting. Remember that most people just want to find a way to talk to you, and that the ones that are judgey are dickwads. The opinions of dickwads are NOT IMPORTANT. It is OK if they don’t think you’re friend material, because you don’t want to be friends with this sort of person! (This may take repetition, time and therapy to sink through to your noggin.)

Have a prepared answer. I like ‘I don’t’, which isn’t strictly true (I volunteer and have an active life in general), but it trips off the tongue quite easily. Sometimes I say ‘I work at x’ which is true even if unpaid. You’re prepared answer could be a question – ‘Why do you want to know?’ Have a prepared response to them saying something like ‘I just want to know;’ ‘everyone else is ok with this question’. Your response could be ‘really?’ ‘Ok… so what about this weather we’ve been having lately?’ ‘I can tell you what I’m into at the moment’. If they demand to know how you make your money (and this may happen rarely), you can say something like ‘I don’t understand why you need to know that’ and WALK AWAY.

Meanwhile, work on improving your awareness of how awesome you are.

What small talk questions cause you problems?

This post is brought to you with the aid of time, thought and Mentalization Based Therapy.

I’ll be writing in this blog about how to implement emotionally and physically healthy changes. Sharing things that have worked for me; whether original or ganked from someone else’s wise head.

This is my favourite thinky skill. It helps me cope with having emotions; helps me to avoid using negative coping mechanisms eg. binging.


  1. How do I feel in 10 words or less? I find it useful to write this down, maybe write a text without sending it. Other people may be happy to say it out loud or silently to themselves.

  2. Say ‘it’s ok to feel’ and ‘this will pass’.

  3. Take an action. The action can be sitting with your feelings, doing something you’ve been procrastinating about, or just getting on with your day.


Eventually (often quickly) the feeling passes or becomes less intense.