There’s no two ways around it: we live in a hellhole. Unless you can afford a trip to Paris every other weekend, trying to cope with this country’s terrifying traffic and brainless blasts can be downright maddening. You can try to be hopeful (let me know how that works out for you), or you can consider one of my tips the next time this jungle of a land we call home begins to drive you nuts.
1. Create the perfect playlist
Nothing else will get you through Beirut’s hideous roads. So take 20 minutes tonight and burn a great car cd or sync that perfect little playlist onto your iPhone. Trust me, it’ll make the pain and the agony all the more bearable tomorrow. And no, you can’t exactly rely on the radio (unless you fancy singing along with your favorite ads).
2. Plan your departure
Let’s be clear, you’re not actually going to leave. But sometimes just the prospect of looking for a higher purpose abroad is all that you need. If you’re one of the lucky few, you might actually find your dream job/home. If not, it’s a momentary lapse of hope that’ll surely invigorate you for an hour or two. This activity is best enjoyed during office hours.
3. Overdose on social media
It’s not exactly healthy but it gets the job done. With Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Youtube, and Pinterest at your disposal, the possibilities are endless. Whether you’re tagging e-cards, brainstorming witty hashtags, or desperately refreshing your ex’s profile, you’re bound to lose yourself in a world of distractions. And if you have yet to discover the gloriousness of BuzzFeed, we can’t be friends.
4. Dive into your work
It might seem a little unorthodox but stranger things have happened. I know it’s not easy when your 9-5 is a soul-crushing thing where dreams go to die, but you might feel strangely productive. If this technique brings absolutely no satisfaction (or monetary rewards), please disregard and move on.
I’m not telling you to binge on a daily basis, but contrary to what many may think, this country has an incredible assortment of restaurants to choose from. Whether you’re craving a heavenly gnocchi pesto (Tavolina), some top-notch Sushi (try Shogun), or the best burger in town (Frosty Palace), you can always find something to satisfy your gluttonous cravings. Plus, it’s the best way to bond with your loved ones. Please note that if you do decide to embrace this tip, consider the next one as part of the package.
6. Join a gym
My personal favorite. It’s not (just) about getting abs, or that bikini body you’ve yearned for your entire life, it’s about disconnecting from Beirut (even if it’s just for an hour). For me, the gym is a wonderful, isolated bubble where you can block out the outside world and transcend the misery with an awesome endorphin high. If you’re feeling particularly violent, I propose you try BodyCombat, a no-contact cardio based workout inspired by martial arts. It’s a brilliant way to unleash the pent-up rage and self-loathing this country plants inside all our hearts. Just be sure to keep your phone in the locker (I’m looking at you, treadmill texters).
7. Don’t discuss politics, ever
For me, ignorance really is bliss. I don’t discuss politics and I know nothing about it. I might not be contributing to a better tomorrow, but I live a happier life than a lot of people who engage in heated political debates on a daily basis to no avail. Give it a shot, you might be surprised.
Here’s hoping these tips will help make your day-to-day existence in this country a little less traumatic. And when all else fails and you start swearing at the political convoy that just swerved in front of you, try repeating my go-to mantra: “The only person who can ruin my day is me.”
No joke, it almost works.
Previously posted on Beirut.com.