It's hard not to get depressed when you turn on the news or read the front page of one of our regional daily newspapers. The overall condition of this nation's economy seems dire, and there are few solutions being offered for recovery. At times like these, it's easy to want to hole up in your home, stash your cash under the mattress and shut out the world, but this is reaction that really only makes things worse.
When times get tough, we've found the best medicine can often be found when we reach out to others. Especially during the upcoming Christmas season, we need to search out the blessing in our lives and strive to make life a little better for someone else. I know when I take the focus off my own issues and concerns and focus on the needs of others, I find that my problems really don't seem that bad after all.
For our readers this week, I'm offering a list of activities you can pursue to get your mind off the economy and discover the little joys and blessings that are all around you.
* Cheer on the Cassville Wildcat football team as it continues its run to the state championship game. The state semi-final game against Chillicothe will take place this Saturday at 1:30 p.m. at Wildcat Stadium. If you can't be in attendance then we suggest you paint the windows of your business, home or car to cheer on the Wildcats. Celebrating the success of this hardworking group of young men and coaches is sure to bring a smile to anyone's face.
* Volunteer to serve as a bell ringer for the Salvation Army this Christmas season.
* Get involved with the 2008 Share Your Christmas campaign. Donate money, toys, food or your time to this annual effort that helps brighten the holidays for hundreds of local kids and families.
* Make some of your Christmas gifts this year. When Mike and I were first married, we were on a very tight budget and I remember making wreaths and ornaments and giving those as presents that year. There's also something very special about receiving a handmade gift - the time and effort involved in making the keepsake are priceless and it's always a one-of-a-kind item.
* Spend more time with your family and friends. Rather than spending big bucks on dinner out and a movie, instead plan to have a family movie night at home. Wear PJs and enjoy homemade pizza, fresh-popped popcorn and a discounted movie rental. You'll be saving money and making memories at the same time.
* Get outside and enjoy the beautiful outdoors. A hike at Roaring River State Park, a drive down to the shores of Table Rock Lake or a jog along Cassville's Greenway Trail are all options for area residents. Exercise and fresh air are a great combination and natural mood lifters. Once the weather gets a lot colder, consider joining the Cassville YMCA, which provides family activities, classes and an indoor exercise alternative for all its members at very reasonable rates.
* Smile more and show kindness to strangers. It's always amazing to me how my day brightens when people act as if they're happy to see me. A big smile and kind word go a long way toward making people feel better, especially when times get tough.