Free Advice — How do you stay positive through trying times?

Free Advice is a periodic feature in which I answer anonymous letters sent to Today I entertain a many-faceted question, with another wrinkle you’ll discover below.

Hi Mark,

How does a person stay positive in times of economic stress, loss or change?

We can even break it down more.

How do you stay positive after job loss?

What do you say to someone who has lost a parent/spouse/child?

How do you keep a sense of humor in tough times?

Thank you,


Dear Michelle,

First of all, thanks for having the guts to send me this question with your name attached. Folks, meet Mama Mick Terry, author of the fine blog of that name found here. Thank you for introducing me to your friends over at your place. You can find today’s Freestyle Friday feature here.

There’s part of my blueprint for remaining OK through tough times right there, and you appear to be taking the same steps. Be approachable. More than that, be outgoing. Be ready to reach outside your comfort zone to meet new people and do different things to create a network that may benefit you in ways that you can’t even imagine at that very moment.

Your query really cuts close to my personal story, and I’m sure many others in this ever-changing economy of ours. Two years ago, I was laid off from the job I’d held for 29 years and five months at the big daily. Of course that sent me spinning.

Fortunately, my emotional state was covered by my immediate family members and closest friends then, and still.

Let your loved ones love you. Do not close them out of your life.

When your friends want to continue to go golfing, for instance, by all means, go golfing. Remain on that bowling team that you’ve competed with for years and years.

In other words, yes, you likely will want to grieve the loss quietly for a week, two weeks, maybe longer. But then, please tell yourself to start trying to act like you did before that major change or loss. You’ve got to get back living, as soon as possible. Look for new work, yes, of course. If it’s death you’re dealing with, it is true that your loved one would want you to get back there in the swing of life.

If it’s your friend who lost the job or a loved one, tell them immediately how sorry you are. Get the pulse of how long their private time is likely to be and how much company they’ll want, and respect that. Thereafter, keep in contact. Let them know you’re there. And do your best to treat them normally.

Now about that positive outlook, Michelle. For me, it’s a matter of knowing that I’m trying hard, every day. My dear wife Karen knows it, and tells me so. Even though I’ve yet to be chosen in the handful of interviews in which I’ve made it to the finalists’ table for a full-time job, I keep reading the emails sent me by the job boards and networking and talking and listening and yes, sending out resumes. I love the regular free-lance jobs I’ve secured, and have recently found more work on that avenue, too. A fellow WordPress blogger friend and I have a film-and-food book co-writing project in the works as well. I work at least eight hours a day on my writing, researching, blogging, networking and job searching, every day, including weekends. There’s no time to be really depressed, I guess, Michelle.

As far as a sense of humor goes, either you’re funny or you’re not. And there’s no accounting for taste. There’s always funny peculiar to fall back on if funny ha-ha is letting you down. Did you hear the one about the blogger who started a feature called “Free Advice” because he hoped it might help him make more money?

Free AdviceFree Advice is a periodic feature. Send questions to Anonymity is assured.

My qualifications: 57 years of open eyes and ears but no stalking charges. One dear wife Karen, one terrific daughter Elisabeth and her wonderful boyfriend George, one sensational stepson Daryl, one pet Ellie B aka Dogamous Pyle and various other family members of scattered location and adjectives. Four decades of writing in public about people, places and things.

Satisfaction is the goal, but is by no means guaranteed.

53 thoughts on “Free Advice — How do you stay positive through trying times?

      • Yes absolutely. Your advise is bang on Mark. The only thing I would add – in my case – is living in the moment. My physical abilities changed considerably and I had to allow for that, I was no longer able to fall back on driving for a living as I used to do when my circumstances changed. So I looked at what I could still do and went from there. That’s all I would add.

        Well done sir – excellent advice..


      • A lot of your readers use their noggin to make a living Mark, so re-evaluating is not as critical a skill as the others you mentioned, but yes, it should be added for those like myself who have abilities that have changed.


  1. Terrific advice, as always, Mark. I remember the first post you really hooked me with was the one where you wrote the letter to MDWK’s late hubby and child. It made me cry and also showed me your beautiful soul. I think cathartic letter writing could also accompany your wonderful answer. As always, you rock! โค


  2. Mark, I just love this!
    You are my new “idol”!!! ๐Ÿ™‚
    great advice and very thoughtful!
    ( and this thing with humor! I’ve been through some hard times and i alwyas get out on the other side because my sence of humor. I thank GOD that i got it- because it means a lot to me! )
    Have a great weekend!


  3. Good advice, Mark. Definitely need to hear it right now. Am feeling plenty kicked–maybe more so than ever. Am trying to fight, but know I need help so taking steps on that. Glad to be your partner in literary crime. Cheers to a productive (and lucrative ๐Ÿ™‚ ) partnership!!


  4. Just tweeted this, mi amigo. You are really one in a million. Your kindness, outlook on life and love for life are enviable. Such wise words to Michelle and all of us. I couldn’t agree more with all of it, especially the humor.


  5. Great advice Mark. One has to keep going, keep trying. Some days are harder than others and I think it’s ok to fall back every now and then, (after all we’re just human)but then we gotta get back at it. โค
    Diana xo


  6. Mark and Michelle,

    I know this struggle all too well, having been through it myself a couple of times in the last 15 years. Your advice is spot on, but I would add something more that I have learned through my faith and my life experience.

    Simply put, it’s this: be in the moment. The past is done–you cannot change it, especially not with anger or bitterness. The future, as Jim Morrison observed, is uncertain. Things change on a dime. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make plans or work towards your goals. It simply means that you cannot count on them materializing. And if they don’t appear–in a day, a week, a year–you won’t be disappointed. Enjoy the journey, the moment, instead.

    The moment is all know with any certainty. Find the joy in it (and, yes, there’s even joy in hardship and tough times if you know where to look). And know that this moment, too, will pass, because nothing, good times or bad, ever stays the same.

    And know that as each moment goes by, your strength and resilience increases, enabling you to handle both current difficulties and those that are bound to come.

    You are both doing better than you may sometimes think. Keep the faith, believe in your abilities and stay strong!



    • Thanks so much for adding your passage of strength, Bruce. Having watched you in action over many years, I know that your are a man who leads by his actions. Bravo, sir, for running with your goals, always.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Well-said! No time to be depressed when you keep active. It’s a tough choice not to dwell on the negative, but as another WordPress blogger named Penny said, “Every day may not be good, but there is something good in every day.”


  8. BRAVO! What a fantastic, positive and uplifting passage to bring it all home. Thank you for taking the time to read my question and respond in the only way you know how – with insight, heart, and gratitude. I have NO doubt that I’ll be reading your stuff in a major publication some day. I know it!!
    I also appreciate that it’s okay to be peculiar-funny — it’s the only way I know how!!
    Have a fantastic Friday!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Michelle, for sending me this question, taking the time to read my many posts, and being funny — ha-ha and in your own wonderfully peculiar way, every day that you post over at Mama Mick Terry. We’ll be seeing you in published form, too, no doubt, my good friend.


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