The other day, I innocently asked my grandson what he would like for his upcoming ninth birthday. He thought for a moment, then gazed intently into my eyes and answered explicitly, “No books, Nana. And nothing you knitted.”

If I had been confronted by his blatant honesty last week, I don’t think I would have had the same lighthearted reaction.

Have you ever been in a deep funk where suddenly everything looked dark, foreboding and hopeless? I call this sudden turn of darkness “going down the rabbit hole.” And I went there seven days ago.

Sure, there were real frustrations:

  • The scale was heading north again; my beloved white jeans felt tighter and tighter.
  • I was spending more money than my income could bear.
  • I had career-related deadlines, setbacks, obstacles and challenges that were beginning to seem insurmountable.
  • And I was tired. So very tired.

Down the rabbit hole I tumbled. Isolating myself from family and friends. Viewing every situation and scenario in the most negative light possible.

Things Could Always Be Worse

Yes, I know things can always be worse. My favorite waitress’s mom is dying of a brain tumor at age fifty-two. A high school crony is on dialysis three times a week and has just had four fingers on his right hand amputated due to his diabetic condition. My mother’s long-time friend has just lost her 25-year-old grandson to a drug overdose.

But I’m allowed to wallow in my own “petty” misery, right? I’m allowed a few bad days in a funk? Even if my misery is less than their misery?

Here are three ways to climb out of the rabbit hole.

Perfect the Art of Gratitude

The lack of gratitude causes an over-inflated sense of entitlement, a de-sensitizing to small material pleasures and an inability to be sated. Practicing the art of gratitude is the gateway to seeing our world differently – we reawaken to the pleasures in our lives that are already in place.

I marvel at my orchid’s new bud. I savor my first sip of morning coffee. I drink in my husband’s handsome chiseled profile while he sleeps beside me.

On my climb out of the rabbit hole, I stop focusing on the deficits. I free myself from eagle-eyeing and stock-piling every aggravation, annoyance and slight directed my way; from over personalizing; and from utter self-absorption.

“Gratitude,” says Timothy Miller in How to Want What You Have, “is the intention to count your blessings while avoiding the belief that you need or deserve different circumstances.”

Seek Out the Humorous

Continually looking for the humor in the daily routine of our lives helps us weather instability and change. Finding the lighthearted edge reduces stress and aids us in concentrating less on our disappointments, frustrations and woes.

A sense of humor helps us deal with obstacles, road blocks and bumps in the road. It facilitates our evolving and finding a comfortable place for ourselves. Also, it keeps us out of the rabbit hole.

Try these jokes:

A thief broke into my house last night. He started searching for money, so I woke up and searched with him.

Kids today don’t know how easy they have it. When I was young, I had to walk nine feet through shag carpeting to change the TV channel.

A recent study found that women who carry a little extra weight live longer than men who mention it.

Feel better?

Keep Things in Perspective

When storm clouds appear on your horizon, how do you cope? I cope by keeping things in perspective. I recently wrote a column on the difficulty of seeing a child off to college. Or pre-school. Or Kindergarten.

My column could easily apply to watching an adult child move far away to a new city. It could apply to watching an adult child or a grandchild embrace a way of life that seems disjointed and foreign. My column could apply when we experience a lack of open and honest communication with our offspring.

It is normal that feelings of loss, anxiety and disappointment can pull us down, but keeping things in perspective will ultimately be the grease that makes climbing out of the rabbit hole easier, quicker and less arduous. It’s all about perspective.

What do you do to get out of a funk? Pretend you are sitting with your best friend at her kitchen table, chatting away about how to stay out of a funk or get out of one, and how to keep things in proper perspective. Please dig deep in your toolbox and share your wisdom below.