Yesterday was the presidential election here in the United States. And today we’ve been dealing with the fallout. Despite the wishes of many, the votes were tallied and Donald Trump is going to be the President of the United States beginning in January.

This is scary news for a lot of people. Originally, I wanted to make a post making light of the situation. Comparing Trump to Bowser or something. But that wouldn’t be fair to the many immigrants, people of color, women, and members of the LGBT community who now feel marginalized and legitimately frightened at what a Trump presidency could mean for them. So rather than make jokes, this post will just be me, talking, saying what I want to say not only to the people who are terrified of Trump’s presidency, but also to those who wanted things to turn out this way. And that one thing I really want to say is this: SMILE.

Yeah, it’s gonna be an acronym, but it also isn’t. It’s the first step towards moving forward. Studies show that smiling and happiness are correlated, and not just in the traditional way. If you decide to smile even in tough circumstances, it makes you happier. Something about that expression brings joy even when you may not feel joy in your heart. And seeing you smile makes others smile, and in turn their smiles affect you. And after a few smiles from the people around you, you may find that your own smile isn’t fake anymore. Now you’re really okay. Still scared? Sure. Happy? Maybe not. But okay, and that’s a first step.

So the word smile itself is my first piece of advice, but what’s the acronym part? SMILE stands for Stop, Measure, Integrate, Love, and Encourage.

Stop reacting. Stop reading about it, get off of Twitter and Facebook, and detach from the whole thing. Go play a video game, read a book, watch a movie that makes you laugh until you cry. Hug your spouse, play with your child, get together with some friends and do anything but talk about the election. You need to let off some steam and let the stress and darkness get out of your system. Trump won’t be president for another month, so don’t let his election destroy you in the present moment. Today is still a good day. Just breathe, enjoy yourself, and get this mess out of your head.

Measure the situation. It is very important that you do this step AFTER step one. If you try to take stock of things while you’re still experiencing your raw, emotional reaction to the situation, what comes out will be both overblown and unproductive. Once you’ve calmed down a bit, it’s time to inform yourself about what this means realistically. The President is not an all-powerful ruler, and he doesn’t exist in a vacuum. His decisions impact a lot of people and a lot of people influence his decisions. Or rather, he influences their decisions. Because when it comes right down to it, the president does not have the kind of power that will allow Trump to make significant changes instantly, or to undo things that have already been done by his predecessors. Getting more information increases your understanding and makes the situation less frightening.

Integrate yourself back into the world. When you approach the world calm and armed with information, you’re a lot less likely to be overcome by stress about the situation. You can hear the overblown arguments from both sides and say “actually, it’s gonna be more like this.” This will help you be a comfort to those who are overwhelmed by fear or anger.

Love those around you. If you don’t absorb anything else I say in this post, absorb this: LOVE THOSE AROUND YOU. Just because Trump won the election does not mean that hate won too. That’s our decision, our choice to make, and we’re making it every time we fuel the flames of partisan politics. Hate has defined this election from the moment the two candidates were decided. Trump urged his supporters to physically intimidate and harm protesters at his rallies. Clinton called those who would think of voting for Trump in this election “despicable.” And even though the election itself is over, folks are continuing the cycle of hate. Democrats who feel powerless and let-down by their country are blatantly grouping all white Christian men into one category, calling every single one “racist” or “sexist” as indiscriminately as Trump called all Mexicans “rapists.” Hatred breeds hatred, and violence begets violence – those who stand against Trump and his supporters by verbally or physically expressing hatred are using the very tactics they claimed to despise. So instead of spreading hatred, spread love. If you stood against Trump, tell someone else who fears a Trump presidency that everything is going to be okay. Do something kind for them to make their day brighter. Don’t lash out at those who supported Trump. Because while there is a vocal minority that sided with Trump out of hatred, there are many more people who voted for Trump because they truly believed he represented their values. Hating everyone who voted for Trump because of his most extreme supporters is no different than hating all Muslims or Christians because of the actions of ISIS or Westboro Baptist. If you voted for Trump, be a gracious winner. Don’t gloat. Don’t overreact or get defensive when someone who doesn’t agree with you is frustrated by the results of the election. Think of how you would want them to treat you if Clinton had come out on top. And this is important: support those who feel marginalized and ignored. Regardless of how you feel about ole Donny, his presidency is going to be a time where the poor, the afflicted, the foreigner, the widow, and the orphan are on their own. Those in power aren’t going to help them, so now that’s your role. Show kindness and love to those who stood against you, and prove wrong their belief that your vote for Trump was a vote for Hate. The people who were vying for the opportunity to lead our country could never move past their hatred, but we can be different than them. We can be BETTER than them. So let’s show each other the love and consideration that our leaders could not. And finally…

Encourage those around you. This goes hand-in-hand with the previous step but also goes beyond it to our elected officials. Voters are the lifeblood of representatives, and because of that they have to listen to us to a degree. Encourage them to make the decisions that you want to see. Write letters, sign petitions, and lobby using approved methods to express your opinion and to sway our elected officials – even the President – to make decisions that really line up with your views. Don’t just rant and yell on social media (see this post about expressing frustration to game developers for more on that subject). And if your most legitimate efforts to convince our representatives to make changes all fail, if that representative truly doesn’t represent you – vote for someone else. While Trump won’t be up for re-election until 2020, many representatives whose powers realistically impact your life a lot more than him will be up earlier than that. So if you can’t convince them, replace them.

And remember while you SMILE, to smile. Seriously. The results of this election are definitely bad news for a lot of people. But the amazing thing about human beings is our ability to rally through tough circumstances and to become something greater than the sum of our parts. This election has shown the ugly side of us – let’s use the aftermath as an opportunity to show the beautiful side.

This is my one and only post on the subject of the election and its results. Adventure Rules is a blog about video games and today’s topic is a very temporary departure from that. No matter who you voted for, what color your skin is, what god you worship (or don’t), what gender you consider yourself, or which of the Big Three console developers you prefer, you’re welcome here. This is a safe, lighthearted place to hang out while you’re following step one. Stick around, read some guides or reviews, sift through the archive, and get your mind off of things. My hope is that what you find here will help ease your weariness and maybe even get you to – you guessed it – smile.

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