Beating The Blues

“Our aches and pains conform to opinion. A man’s as miserable as he thinks he is.” – Seneca (Letters to Lucilius, 1st Century)

I admit it. I’m a moody bastard. But I never made a nickel being negative, so I have trained myself to recognize my bad moods and try to get rid of them as quickly and completely as possible.

Despair is your enemy, because it takes away your energy – and by robbing you of energy, it steals your ideas too. Not only your ideas, but also the enthusiasm you need to sell them and the spirit you need to motivate your employees and satisfy your customers.

Versions of despair — cynicism, anger, and fear — have no place in your business or personal life. If you let them in, you will give up too easily — and that can cost you.

Here’s what I do when I’m feeling low:

1. I forgive myself for feeling that way. (Depending on your biology, your upbringing, and your circumstances, you may feel blue rarely, sometimes, or often. Accept it as normal.)

2. I count my blessings.

3. I take a nap. (You’d be surprised by how often you can make yourself feel better simply by taking a 20-minute catnap. If you are not sleeping well, chances are you are irritable and somewhat unproductive. This is a vicious circle. Get out of it. Get some sleep.)

4. I cut out the crap food. (Sugar and starch are poisons. Be aware of how they affect your moods.)

5. If possible, I spend some time with upbeat people.

6. I try very hard to follow Dale Carnegie’s famous “Three C’s”: Don’t criticize. Don’t condemn. Don’t complain.

7. If I am bummed out about problems at work, I do this: I compose a list of my five most pressing incomplete jobs. Then I break down each job into specific tasks that can be accomplished in an hour or less. I arrange those tasks in order of priority. Finally, I choose one. Just one. I put everything else out of my mind and get to work on it. Immediately. No excuses.

I’ve noticed that when I dwell on the whole of my troubles, I stall. But when I clear my head and focus on just one problem, even the smallest problem, I can concentrate on it and fix it. When the problem is fixed, it gives me a good feeling. I feel one step closer to success. This feeling gives me energy. I attack the next problem or task with just a little more enthusiasm. And when I’ve finished with that, I am even more energized.

Steadily, problem by problem, task by task, I complete my work. And when I’m done, I feel great.