A Little Happier: During the Covid Lockdown, a Mother Found the Right Thing to Say

We all know the feeling of wanting to respond to someone’s sorrow, anger, or frustration with words that will help them feel understood and comforted.

I love finding examples of when people knew the right thing to say, and I heard an example recently from a friend, from a conversation she had a few years ago.

Her daughter was in college, where she majored in history. She’d always loved history, even as a child.

So this daughter is in college, and Covid hits, and she’s sent home. She’s doing her classes remotely, she’s feeling isolated, she’s sad because of all the college experiences she’s missing.

My friend, her mother, was trying to give words of comfort—but it’s hard, right? What do you say? Do you say, “Come on, it’s not so bad?” Do you say, “Other people are suffering so much more?”

My friend said to her daughter, “This is so hard. But think, you love history, you’re taking classes in history, and you’re living in history. This is a historic moment. People will be studying this time for decades to come. You’re part of it, you can study it as it’s happening.”

And that observation was enormously helpful to her daughter. As is so often the case, it was helpful because it was true.

Sometimes, we’re able to re-frame a situation, or cast a new light on it, in a way that allows people to see their experience in a different way.




Like what you see? Explore more about this topic.

Subscribe to Gretchen’s newsletter.

Every Friday, Gretchen Rubin shares 5 things that are making her happier, asks readers and listeners questions, and includes exclusive updates and behind-the-scenes material.