Tag Archives: Self Improvement

Pull Yourself Out of the Blues

If you’re feeling down, what can you do? Let’s examine the story from Saying Goodbye to Lousy Moods for some insight.

 Since Theo hates loud bars and doesn’t know his co-workers that well, he’s never gone out for happy hour on Fridays. But he’d like to socialize more so he decides one night to join them.

This is not looking good. The last thing he needs when he’s already feeling awkward is to plop himself down in his own personal nightmare. But he’s ignoring his own good judgment. Bad move.

Making friends naturally through projects makes sense, though. Volunteer work is ideal. Gatherings centered around hobbies and interests – photography, books, softball – would also introduce him to people like himself. If self-help or spirituality interests him, he might explore a community committed to his same world view.

 Everyone leans across the table toward each other while he sits up straight with a tight smile and fiddles with his napkin. No one notices he isn’t talking. Just as well: they’re arguing politics and their god-awful views are appalling. His face gets twitchy.

How awful. He might as well head home and resolve to find a social activity that suits him. And he should tell himself it’s not weird to dislike loud bars.

All Theo really wanted to do tonight was read his mystery novel. He creeps out, goes home and turns on some jazz and tries to read. But sixty percent of him is reading and forty percent is back at the bar, feeling stupid.

Since he can’t concentrate on his book, he might take this time to practice mindfulness. Yoga is good: since he’s preoccupied, focusing on movement and physical sensations will refresh his mind.

Is he piling on self-defeating messages? Telling himself he’s a dud and no one likes him? That he’s too serious? Author Byron Katie suggests identifying these thoughts and asking “Is this true? Is this really true?”

What else might explain this wretched evening?

  • His co-workers don’t dislike him, they just don’t know him.
  • He most certainly is not boring. He loves jazz, good mysteries, meaningful conversation.
  • He’s an introvert. They’re extroverts. Introverts are lovely people, thoughtful and sensitive to the subtle beauties of life.

(The next morning he feels depressed.) Normally he would go do his Saturday volunteer work, but instead he sits down with his mystery again. He mopes.

He’s got to put down that book. The book is his enemy right now. The book is not his friend. Even though he feels he just can’t, he must get dressed, leave the house, follow his normal routine and get around people.

If Theo decides to find some social activities that fit his personality, if he works with his thinking and gets moving, he’ll feel much better by the afternoon. Think about your own version of his story. What puts you at risk for bad moods? What new activities and interests can bring more joy? Do you have habits that drain energy and beliefs that make you feel bad? Perhaps you might take a few minutes to write about turning your own bad moods around and making changes that can even prevent them from taking root.

Readers: What changes might bring more joy to your life?

Happiness Habits

Vegetables and fruitWhat would a happier life look like for you?

Would you be healthier? Have deeper friendships? Would you simply be content?

The decisions and actions that make up our lives rest on our habits.

We usually don’t think about our habits too much. Do yours bring you happiness? Do they create enjoyable relationships, activities, feelings, experiences? Or do they pull you down?

Thinking about our lives and decisions lets us figure out what we want. When we then base our actions on our goals, we can craft a life filled with a sense of well-being. We can create habits that move us towards joy.

Build the Foundation for Change

What do you want to take on? Start by listing some things that would make your life better. Engaging work? Financial stability? A comfortable home free from clutter?

Choose one area, and let’s think about  what small steps you can take towards your dream.

For example, say you’d like to get healthier. Perhaps you want to add more vegetables to your diet. What kinds of habits could get you there?

Eat More Vegetables

Most Americans eat far fewer than the recommended daily five to eight servings of vegetables and fruits. (Readers from other countries: do people in your culture eat more of them, and if so, what advice can you pass along to people in the United States?)

Does that sound unbearable? One serving, though, is just half a cup of cooked vegetables or one cup of something raw like salad. So if you start by adding one serving of vegetables a day and do that for a month, you’re already doing quite a bit better than you were.

Add another serving the next month. Before long you’re up to snuff.

It’s important to note that your goal isn’t to lose weight. You may or may not go after that goal later. Now you’re just trying to eat more vegetables. If you do, you’ll probably lose weight naturally, if that’s what you want. And for sure you’re adding a lot more vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber and all that good stuff to your life.

If you have an aversion to vegetables, they’ll need to taste especially good or else you probably won’t stick with this. For a few months, then, add a generous splash of olive oil, a sauce, some mayonnaise. We’re not talking about going overboard, but add enough so that you can really taste it.

If you want to move towards little or no fat with them, it’ll be easier to do this as you come to enjoy the taste of the vegetables themselves.

Enjoy Your New Habit

As you’re making changes, reflect often on how glad and proud you are. You’re doing well.

Notice how you feel physically and emotionally — it’s very reinforcing.

Creating a healthy habit can be easy. Do it very slowly, in small steps, and you’ll succeed.

Readers: What new habits have you created? What are you working on, and what’s one small step towards forming a habit?