Tuning Back Into Happiness

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by Athena Merritt |

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Bad habits usually sneak up on me. I glide along thinking I’m in control until I get hit with the realization that I’m not.

That moment arrived for me on a recent morning when I decided to skip the news. 

It shouldn’t have been a big deal. But eating breakfast without watching the latest broadcasts left me feeling out of sorts. As the day carried on, I became aware that I check clocks a heckuva lot. Even more disturbing is that for me, they had become digital countdowns to the next newscast. 

That made me face a hard truth: I had crossed the line between something being a part of my life and actually ruling it. It’s a balancing act I know well from managing sarcoidosis. 

As I struggled to get through the day without news, a line from one of my favorite “Will & Grace” episodes came to mind: “I’m no expert, but I think you have a little addiction problem.” You can view the scene here to see why it made me laugh so hard.

Last year, I wrote about my tendency to sometimes let my health eclipse everything else in my life. I call it “survival mode” when my sole focus becomes staving off the worst. In my quest to stay informed during the pandemic, I landed there again.

A weekend getaway with my sister, Antonia, helped me break the cycle last June. This time around, a self-imposed moratorium on news did the trick. 

Roughly 6 in 10 Americans are following local and national reports about the coronavirus outbreak, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in April. There’s a popular saying about media coverage, “If it bleeds, it leads.” Tuning in means being subjected to a lot of negative stories, and not just about the pandemic. With each passing hour without television, I realized the toll it had taken.

For the first time in months, my thoughts were consumed with happier things. A heart-warming message from my godmother earlier that day. The memory of looking over Boston Harbor with Antonia last summer, a gentle breeze rolling over us. The canopy of vibrant fall leaves hanging over the roads near my former condo, which I looked forward to driving through each year.

A weekend getaway to Boston Harbor with her sister renewed columnist Athena Merritt’s spirit last year. (Photo by Athena Merritt)

I know that eventually I’ll return to the news. But for now, I just want to bask in thoughts, moments, and experiences that make me feel good. 


Brighter side: We all could use a break from bad news right now. So, I’ll be closing my columns with a roundup of positivity until we are able to say goodbye to masks, hug our loved ones, and leave our homes without fear.

  • Sprouting friendships: Two California surfers have created a free app that connects people who want to swap plants and produce, CBS8 reported. The app, called Blossm, sprouted to 800 users across the U.S. after just five weeks. Co-founder Brian Feretic got the idea after swapping plants himself. Users can search for swaps by location, view pictures of available plants, clippings, and produce, and message each other. Download Blossm here.
  • Forever young: The [email protected] Chorus, whose members range in age from 77 to 92, released a new album this month, according to the Boston Globe. The chorus was founded in 1982 to help residents of elderly housing pass time. Their rock-oriented repertoire ranges from Rolling Stones classics to rap to appeal to a variety of age groups and communities, the newspaper said. You can buy the album and see their virtual benefit concert at youngatheartchorus.com.


Note: Sarcoidosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Sarcoidosis News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to sarcoidosis.


John Fleisch avatar

John Fleisch

Your article was insperationable to get me through the day.


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