Here’s how much our lives have changed in the last month or so: Had the sports schedule not been upended, the final game of the NCAA basketball tournament would have been held this week. Yet that date, so important to hard core hoops fans and casual office pool participants alike, passed practically unnoticed and unacknowledged.


There’s very little that’s normal about the new normal. Having casual get-togethers with friends can subject a person to scorn and ridicule. Trips to the grocery store require facial masks like it’s Halloween. And speaking of costumes, some Australians apparently have been trying to amuse themselves by dressing in outlandish get-ups just to take out the garbage.


The Aussies may be onto something. Best case, we’re going to have at least three more weeks of quarantine. And that quarantine could be a lot longer, depending on how effective self isolation proves to be in slowing the spread of the coronavirus.


So how can we make the best of this surreal situation? Let’s try to find some joy and inspiration in the small things in life.


Like the signs and messages sprouting up around Pueblo, such as the simple words “don’t lose hope” painted on a wooden fence on the South Side.


Or the musical performances from people like Beth Davis and Becky Bressan, who have gone door-to-door to spread some cheer in an otherwise sobering time.


Or the people who have taken to howling from their porches nightly at 8 p.m. Some of the howlers may be doing so as a way of saluting the health care professionals and others who are on the front lines in the fight against the virus. Some may howl because they want to have some kind of connection with neighbors now that face-to-face meetings at the mailbox are discouraged. And some may howl just to relieve whatever frustration or anxiety they may be feeling.


It may sound a little silly, but don’t knock the whole howling deal until you’ve actually given it a try. It can be a great stress reliever. And millions of dogs and wolves throughout the centuries can’t be wrong.


Obviously, the virus poses a potentially serious health hazard for anyone who contracts it. For the rest of us, though, there may be risks to our mental health.


This is putting all of our coping skills to the test. Since we’re not supposed to be embracing people outside of our immediate households, we instead need to embrace the small bright spots in our days that can help us keep positive attitudes.


A popular expression says: “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” Which, under normal circumstances, is pretty good advice. But a more appropriate saying at this moment in history might be: “Don’t forget the small stuff.” Because some of that small stuff may help us get through this crisis.


Small stuff like the knowledge that most of us competing in NCAA tournament pools saved a few dollars this year because we wouldn’t have been in the running by the time the finals were held, anyway.