How to Be More Hopeful, With Anne Lamott

Even with the light of the vaccine on the horizon, it can be hard to keep pushing through the stress and anxiety that the pandemic has brought us. That’s why this week we’re speaking with the ever-inspiring Anne Lamott—progressive...

How to Be More Hopeful, With Anne Lamott

Illustration for article titled How to Be More Hopeful, With Anne Lamott

Photo: Sam Lamott

Even with the light of the vaccine on the horizon, it can be hard to keep pushing through the stress and anxiety that the pandemic has brought us. That’s why this week we’re speaking with the ever-inspiring Anne Lamott—progressive political activist, writer, and bestselling author of such books as Bird by Bird, Traveling Mercies, and Operating Instructions. Anne’s latest book is called Dusk, Night, Dawn: On Revival and Courage, and she joins us this week to talk about how we can find hope, even in the most challenging times.

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Highlights from this week’s episode

From the Anne Lamott interview:

On remembering the three A’s that help her get through frustration:

[A]wareness. I’m doing that thing I do. I heard a pastor say, the Lord is my shepherd. I shall not trip. And so I notice I’m just tripping out on somebody or myself. The second A is acceptance...I accept it. It’s like I did not get my way for the last four years and I accepted that I came this way...And I accept it and these are very hard, even if you’re a person whose life is a lot easier than most worlds, this has been so hard and weird and heartbreaking and infuriating...and the third A is action. What’s the action I can take? Well I can kind of bust the trance. Sometimes I wear a rubber band on my arm and I snap it very gently to break the trance of thinking I’m right to be feeling victimized. Me, victimized? I don’t think so. And to do a loving action: to go get myself a lovely cup of tea, to take a rest, to put on my very, very favorite song of the hour. To take the dog who’s very old for a short walk and to go sit by the tree, you know, I take the action. So I constantly am doing those things.

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On the value of remembering to breathe:

[I]t’s part of my spiritual practice, you know, is to breathe... there’s just so much information coming at us and so little wisdom. You know and so, my head, sometimes it’ll start to feel like air traffic control, you know, on a terrible day. And so I need to change channels from that terrible radio station in my head, which is on 24/7 you know, out of this speaker is like that, “I’m different than, I’m better than, I’m more than...” And then out of the other speaker is that I’m a fraud and the jig is up and that I’m you know, even Jesus is drinking gin right now, just watching what a nightmare I’ve made of my life, what a disappointment I am. And I got to change the channels from there down to the heart cave, you know, and get real quiet...But also, a lot of it for me is physical, is getting back into my physical body again through breath—breathwork—and noticing my feet.

On the importance of humor in times like these:

I’ve always believed that laughter is carbonated holiness. And if you’re sitting and laughing with somebody, it’s church. That makes your worldview so much more expansive. It gives you a spaciousness. You know, “figure it out,” is not a good slogan to live by, but laughter. Oh, my God.

To hear more of Anne’s words of wisdom, we recommend listening to the full episode.

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Episode Transcript