Follow me:

The Morbid Gratitude Trap

I’ve felt off lately. Low on energy, sad, discouraged… that familiar cloud of despair that hovers over me every now and then.

This time, I noticed a pattern.

Whenever I start feeling even just a little bit down, I avoid real life and look for ways to feel better. My go-to place? The news. Specifically, an app called Flipboard that compiles all my favorite news, tech, and celebrity magazines in one place.

I had a couple of emotional days at the beginning of July, and I quickly turned to Flipboard to distract myself. Then, I became obsessed with it, checking it so frequently that I ran out of articles to read. I had to close it and hungrily return a few minutes later to refresh and see the 2-3 new posts.

My justification was, “Oh, it’s always good to know what is happening in the world.”…

But now that I think about it… most of the articles that make it onto Flipboard are tragedies, scandals, and precarious situations.

To test my theory, I opened the app and the first article was, “Family of 5 killed while on vacation.”

I made a mental list of the things I’ve been reading the past few weeks… cheating scandals, war threats, car crashes, plane crashes, kidnappings, murders.

I wondered, is this an attempt on my part to feel better about my life? Am I reading these horrible things to find comfort and gratitude in knowing it could have been me, but it wasn’t?

Holy crap. I need to look for comfort and gratitude in other places. This is wrong.

I decided to make an effort this weekend to stop reading Flipboard. Instead, I spent the whole weekend watercoloring. I took my supplies to Omi’s room and painted while he played Witcher 3, Thor snoring in the background.


I still avoided certain parts of life, but found a peaceful, healthy comfort in enjoying time at home with Omi and Thor. I had time to think about how this morbid gratitude trap was ultimately hurting me and keeping me down. I feel recharged.

I’m deleting Flipboard right now.

And getting back to real life. NOW.

Thanks for reading,

PS: Giveaway! If you’d like to win this majestically professional watercolor painting of some balloons painted with too much water (it’s my own technique I’m developing), leave a comment. I’ll pick a winner randomly and will respond to you in the comments to get your address.

Previous Post

You may also like


  • Reply Letodan

    Interesting subject here. We all find ourselves confronted to these bad emotional days. Most of the time, for me, it is when I look back at some parts of my life and start feeling some regrets. Things I wish I could change. Things that made me who I am today but, of which I’m not as proud as other parts of my life. Some other times, it’s just nostalgia of my youth. My go to place then are video games, boardgames or books. Things which bring me in another world than my own life for a moment. It makes me forget what was making me sad just long enough for my attitude to change. Doing art stuff like you do is also a great solution. It keeps you creating which is always good. By the way, I don’t know if you made that bear in the painting but, it’s awesome!! Just needed to say it.

    July 22, 2019 at 5:00 am
  • Reply riteasrain

    Malu, so good to read this. I’m sitting here looking at my canvas, over-painting an old painting I did in 2006 (sheesh! πŸ€”πŸ˜„). Today I knew I just had to paint. And your notification came in, timely. Art is just so gratifying and satisfying, it fills that hole, that longing and dissatisfaction that rears up. Lovely to imagine you watercolouring with your hubby and sweet dog nearby. Blessings ❀ – Hillie x

    July 22, 2019 at 5:05 am
  • Reply DrKeyP

    Retreat is a realm where we replenish what we gave away. You’ve had quite a year. The realm must be something where the outer world cannot reach us. Introspect. Gathering energy to roll out again. Glad you found a way. There always is one.

    July 22, 2019 at 7:23 am
  • Reply Nephilim1977

    Yeah the news is not a good way of relaxing. It’s only making me cynical nowadays.
    Yet it’s so hard to avoid with media being everywhere and the media knows that bad news sells and good news doesn’t.

    Glad painting helps get your mind off things.

    July 22, 2019 at 8:22 am
    • Reply Malu

      Winner Winner Chicken Dinner!!!! Yaaaay! The random number generator chose you, Nephilim! πŸ˜€

      September 18, 2019 at 2:25 am
      • Reply Nephilim1977

        WHOO! Nice πŸ˜€

        September 18, 2019 at 5:35 am
        • Reply CosmoDings

          Congrats Nephilim!

          September 18, 2019 at 7:46 am
  • Reply Arken

    I hope confronting this really helps you moving forward. I’ve fallen for the same problems as well, surrounding myself with negativity when I was feeling down, letting it just spiral. I put effort into making sure the things I follow these days take a positive perspective on things, for my own sake.

    July 22, 2019 at 8:22 am
  • Reply CosmoDings

    Thank you for sharing. I think a lot of us use something online to take our minds of what’s happening in our own lives and we don’t always think about what we are reading and what gets us distracted. I agree that it’s probably better to go to a happy place than reading about awful things.

    I would love to have that watercolor painting. I think it’s very cute! Even if it has too much water.

    And that polar bear is fantastic!

    Bug hugs from June Marie/CosmoDings

    July 22, 2019 at 8:26 am
    • Reply CosmoDings

      I just realized now that I wrote bug hugs instead of big hugs… πŸ˜› Maybe that’s where you got the lice from?

      July 25, 2019 at 7:47 am
  • Reply BoBandy

    I’m glad you found a better outlet for your anxiety than fueling the fire of self doubt with bad-news stories. They often gear news more towards sensationalism an actual journalism. Bad news sells. Unfortunately, that is the status quo for news outlets. It is not the place to go to learn about what is happening in the real world. Getting out in the real world is how you learn what’s happening out in the real world.
    Art is a fantastic way to tap into the part of your psyche that needs to speak the loudest in times of despair. I am so glad you have found a much more positive outlet for your inner voice.
    ….And don’t think we haven’t noticed your maneuvering to stealthfuly take over Omi’s room in total now!
    You are the most Maloofus Malu I know!
    As me to the giveaway. I’d love to have a Watery Maluriginal!

    July 22, 2019 at 8:41 am
  • Reply James Liu

    Thank you, as always, Malu, for sharing your thoughts and cares. Reading this reminds me of the importance of getting back to the casual writing I used to have. However I do not have any constructive comments to give other than being cheesy. So basically I’m leaving this for the lovely painting.(#’o’#)
    I am, though, always grateful for being reminded how stupid and forgetful I be sometimes. Cheers. β€”J Liu

    July 22, 2019 at 9:05 am
  • Reply VoradorPT

    Yeah, the news tend to report only on the worst that goes on in the world. But I’m glad you found a more fun, happier and comfier way to recharge. I hope you’re feeling better now πŸ™‚

    Yes, I would like that one of a kind Malukah original that I’m sure will be valued in the billions in just a short few years. I wouldn’t sell of course, I would just display it and let everyone know of my own amazing ability to recognize such majestically professional avant-garde technique before it was cool.

    July 22, 2019 at 11:05 am
  • Reply EricB

    Thank you so much for sharing <3 . I find myself in a similar spot when work gets overwhelming and I open Google News and it just gets me feeling worse. Thankfully my wife, our two cats, the Reverbian empire, and your music pull me up and give me the strength to keep going. Thank you!

    July 22, 2019 at 12:37 pm
    • Reply Greg

      Those times sometimes come, and they are difficult. But you did the most important thing one can do in those moments. Realised this time is coming and acted. Started doing something that keeps you stable, safe and feeling a bit better.

      In your case it’s a news app. In my case it’s either books or series. Something I can sit down with and shut off the brain from wandering freely and keeping it busy with whatever influx of information. And I can dissappear from the world for days and weeks like this. It sucks. What helps me in those moments is keeping my hands busy. Going out, forcing myself to be around people and friends. Reach out to the people that care. Even if I really don’t want anything other than a blanket initially, it helps.
      It’s perfectly ok to feel bad, and it’s perfectly ok to reach out to others.

      Hold on Malu, you’re a tough cookie and this too shall pass.


      July 22, 2019 at 1:23 pm
  • Reply Sardai

    Hey Malu, I have had something similar with facebook, I used to read news articles but then I would peek in the comments to see what people where thinking and often it made me really sad because the comments where always close minded and negative. I almost never open facebook again after I realized that. It is really good that you removed the app, so you can’t get tempted to open it anyways πŸ˜€

    lots of hugs to you and Thor,


    July 22, 2019 at 6:39 pm
  • Reply TheAlb

    Thank you for sharing :). We all need to “escape” from the world (ie our daily duties) every now and than. Maybe “escape” is the wrong word, but retreat and recharge in a place of piece. Because of turmoil). Those two place can be quiet different between for various people. The important part is to be able to take a step back and analyses when something goes wrong. that is what keeps us going. But too much or the wrong thing can be quiet bad (place of turmoil). Those two place can be quiet different between for various people. The important part is to be able to take a step back and analyses when something goes wrong. To some degree it also takes vigilance and it can also be hard work. Sometimes we regress as well.
    I’m glad that you managed that and realized what and in what way it was hurting you. That you could do that step away and that you found the place of peace (eg doing something along side Thor and Omi). πŸ™‚
    I guess for me to some degree it is gaming, where it can be both but it is a balancing act. Sometimes I loose and sometimes I win. πŸ™‚
    Thank you for sharing and making me reflect / think about it myself.

    July 22, 2019 at 6:41 pm
  • Reply Scott

    I’m sorry you have been down. I’ve followed you a long time and hate to see that. You have such a pretty smile and twinkle in your eyes that it lightens my day as I’m sure it does many others. Head up this too shall pass.

    July 22, 2019 at 6:43 pm
  • Reply Chanda Panda

    Have you tried Gwent for blissful happiness? Love you Malu!!! <3

    July 23, 2019 at 8:35 pm
    • Reply Nephilim1977

      LOL πŸ˜€ You have to ensure she has good cards or she won’t play.

      July 23, 2019 at 9:03 pm
    • Reply Sardai

      Gwent \o/

      July 24, 2019 at 6:01 pm
  • Reply glumissek

    Sorry to hear about that, but glad to hear you found a fitting solution! I’ve been having similar difficulties lately. I started obsessing with YouTube videos for comfort and also come to the stage where there were no more videos I want to watch. It was so frustrating. Then I turned to my immediate surroundings and started improving what I saw (cleaned my apartment, cooked some meals, asked friends out, potted flowers etc.). And once it was done I felt a little more accomplished and better about myself. πŸ™‚

    July 25, 2019 at 7:26 am
  • Reply Rhinosek

    When I don’t feel very good, so I like to read posts on twitter. It also helps me to share my feelings.

    July 25, 2019 at 6:25 pm
  • Reply Thijs

    That is very interesting. Back to real life. I feel like I’m struggling with that myself, with the amount I’m spending on my phone doing various things. It’s just hard to define the border. What on FB brings me down or distracts me enough that I don’t pay attention to my ‘real’ life anymore? And how much are the videos I watch on youtube and livestreams on Twitch entertainment and how much are they a way to escape my own life?

    Technology and how it interacts with your life is a very difficult and subjective subject.

    July 29, 2019 at 9:47 am
  • Reply X_CaliberVR

    I deal with depression often, and sometimes the only thing that can pick me up is helping others smile or achieve their own things. Heck, I had the absolute worst day yesterday, and was in such a funk – but on my way home, I passed by an animal in the road, and ended up turning my Jeep around to go honk it off the road to safety.

    It was a PORCUPINE!

    And oh my stars, I had never seen a porcupine in the wild! I slowly followed him in my Jeep to keep him safe until he was off the road, and just hung my head out of the window laughing and cheering him on to safety.

    It was basically a Disney movie. But man, that moment of pure joy just melted away all the stuff that had been weighing on my shoulders. I got home and loved on my dog, and slept so well.

    Sometimes it’s the little things. Sometimes it’s the big things. Sometimes it’s a porcupine.

    September 17, 2019 at 8:49 pm
    • Reply Nephilim1977

      lol very true. And helping other does help. Not only do you make others happy, but the sense of accomplishment also gives it that something extra.

      September 18, 2019 at 5:59 am
  • Reply janatreehopper

    Lovely article.
    For me it also helps more to do something in my real surrounding than drifting away with the net/news/etc.
    I like going out to clean the street (smiling at waving at my friendly neighbours oassing by or strangers), or I also like to do handwashing some pieces of clothers in the sink. Or such.
    Unfortunately I’m not gifted with painting like you are…by the way, did you know that in German the word for painting is “malen”, of which the imperative form is “Mal”…so if there was somebody called ‘Luca’ to be encouraged to paint, one would say: Mal Luca! πŸ™‚
    Just some random fact for you to wonder, Malukah-Wonderlukah πŸ™‚
    And greetings from Germany!

    October 2, 2019 at 2:57 pm
    • Reply malukah

      This comment made my dayyyy! Mal Luca! πŸ˜€ hahaha! That’s awesome. And you’re right that doing something that makes you present in your surroundings can feel good and real. Big hug from Mexico all the way to Germany, Jana! πŸ˜€

      November 25, 2019 at 1:03 am
  • Reply Charlie Griffith

    Sassie is our newest addition to our family and is a pure-blooded Shih Tzu. This cell phone video was taken when my wife and I brought her home and into her daddy’s heart. She means so much to me and has brought her daddy so much love and joy beyond belief. Now Icabod who is getting on in years and is only half Shih Tzu but has almost the same markings has someone to keep him company after my wife and soulmate had to put our two male cats up for adoption for a forever home, in that the wife became allergic to their pet dander. Shih Tzus do not have fur, they have hair. But they are still our fur kids.

    November 22, 2019 at 3:33 pm
    • Reply malukah

      Oh my goodnesssss how adorable! πŸ˜€ And yes… hair or fur. They are all fur babiiiiies! πŸ˜€

      November 25, 2019 at 1:01 am

    Leave a Reply