Advice from Sydney Smith in case you're feeling low
Some people, I know, feel a tad low on New Year’s Eve. If you happen to be one of those, here’s one of my favourite letters - sent by the great Sydney Smith to his friend , Lady Georgiana Morpeth, on 16 February 1820. The advice is almost two hundred years old, but I reckon it’s still worth heeding. Happy New Year!
Dear Lady Georgiana,
Nobody has suffered more from low spirits than I have done, so I feel for you.
1st: Live as well as you dare.
2nd: Go into the showerbath with a small quantity of water at a temperature low enough to give you a slight sensation of cold.
3rd: Read amusing books.
4th: Take short views of human life – not further than dinner or tea.
5th: Be as busy as you can.
6th: See as much as you can of those friends who like and respect you.
7th: And of those acquaintances who amuse you.
8th: Make no secret of low spirits to your friends, but talk of them freely – they are always worse for dignified concealment.
9th: Attend to the effects tea and coffee produce upon you.
10th: Don't expect too much from human life – a sorry business at the best.
11th: Compare your lot with that of other people.
12th: Avoid poetry, dramatic representations (except comedy), music, serious novels, melancholy, sentimental people, everything likely to excite feeling or emotion, not ending in active benevolence.
13th: Do good and endeavour to please everybody of every degree.
14th: Be as much as you can in the open air without fatigue.
15th: Make the room where you commonly sit gay and pleasant.
16th: Struggle little by little against idleness.
17th: Don't be too severe upon yourself, or underrate yourself, but do yourself justice.
18th: Keep good blazing fires.
19th: Be firm and constant in the exercise of rational religion.
20th: Believe me, dear Lady Georgiana.
Very truly yours, Sydney Smith.