"The best thing for being sad...is to learn something," said T.H. White in The Once and Future King. This has nothing to do with academic drudgery and everything to do with the fact that mastering a technique, sharpening a skill, doing something you didn't know how to do before, proves anything is possible. Here are 25 ways to brighten up those little gray cells.

1. Memorize one good joke.

2. Learn how to land a triple lutz...or maybe just how to skate backward.

3. Teach yourself not to take the bait the next time a loved one starts pestering you.

4. Master Italian (or American Sign Language, German, Spanish, French, Pig Latin...)

5. Have a kid show you one foolproof magic trick.

6. Perfect your margarita-making technique.

7. Enroll in a bookbinding course.

8. Read everything by a single author whom you've been meaning to get to for years. Faulkner? Melville? Auden? Colette?

9. Knit yourself or someone you love a sweater—or perhaps just a scarf.

10. Start writing a short story.

11. Sign up for piano lessons.

12. Find a kind of meditation that feels right.

13. Join a boxing class.

14. Learn how to make your grandmother's piecrust.


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