We all have days when life seems blue. We get a piece of news that’s not great and then our mind recalls another related event or thought, and then it beautifully projects a fear into the future and before we know it, we’re feeling less than enthusiastic about the future. Well, that was how I felt earlier this week. The reason was the performance of my book Get Productive in the USA. I love my book, then again what author wouldn’t love their creation. A book is like a child to those of us without read kids. At least not yet!
It took me some time, a lot of time to write Get Productive! In some ways, it took years of experience, trying out exercises with clients, trying things out myself and putting together a toolkit that I felt could help people not only get things done, but also build resilience, clarity and feel more in control of their lives. As a person passionate about sharing learning, that’s a goal I was enthusiastic about working on, however hard.
Get Productive is a series of progressive exercises that can be done independently of one another and in short amount of time equip the reader with awareness and clarity of thought to be more productive. For example, one exercise called the Emotional Palette I designed to work with people dealing with difficult emotions or who wish to build more resilience. Like, mindfulness, many of the exercises are short and simple and yet, incredibly powerful.
My clients and those who read the book agree. In fact the book enjoys great reviews in UK and US. But living in UK, it is difficult (even for an American) to spread the word about the book in US which seems so far away geographically even with Twitter and Facebook at my fingertips. Or maybe, it’s the combination of the whole world experiencing a perpetual economic austerity where buying another book is seen as a luxury that many people who really need the book, just won’t give themselves.
So thinking about the current book sales in US especially in relation to the power and span of Amazon, got me feeling blue and disappointed. I felt writing a good, practical book that will give people life skills, should be enough. There were the occasional high points. Get Productive was ranked in the top 50 entrepreneurial books in US and there’s a number of colleagues and coaches that are using it in their own practice and workshops. And yet, the overall numbers still are relatively small.
Normally my mind would think about strategies to solve the ‘problem’ but lately there’s been enough problems to solve, good friends to support through their life challenges, practicalities to deal with including a second attempted home burglary that the ‘problem’ room literally began to feel like the spare room. I bet you know what I mean. That room we also call the attic or junk room; cluttered and in need of a massive clean out and yet one peak at it made me want to run the other way. So feeling a bit overwhelmed and blue was normal.
I felt tired. Tired of having to work very hard and feeling like every step of it took so much work that most of my colleagues and friends never notice.
So, I decided to go for a meal in one of my favorite neighborhood restaurants and leave my blue thoughts behind. If only! They came along though. Maybe I should have invited company. An extrovert ideally so they could fill the space with their problems (hahahaha!). Instead, I went alone. I like my own quiet time occasionally. It helps me reflect, synthesize and just give myself a short pause. But as some of you will know, creating a pause in your thoughts whether they are positive or not, is not easy on demand, especially when we are feeling sorry for ourselves. All through dinner I kept ‘thinking’, my brain chewing over the blue thoughts of disappointment pulling in other negative thoughts along. Until desert or in my case a cheese plate arrived and the Eureka!
The cheese plate featured three Italian characters each with its own flavour and seductive power leaving me in pleasure of their unique nutty, creamy, rich taste. I sipped the wine, and enjoyed each of the cheeses in turn. The whole experience lasted about thirty minutes but it felt a lot longer. And when I was done, I noticed my blue mood lifted. The simple pleasure of getting lost in tasting cheese lifted the heavy thoughts. By the time I cleared my plate, I ended up chatting with the staff and learned about their gossip on another very snooty restaurant around the corner, their experience of working there and their wise perspective on the value of people whatever their backgrounds.
I enjoyed our chat tremendously and even got a shot of Limoncello Italian liquor on the house. As I walked home my blue thoughts felt laughably light. They were floating high up in the clouds of thoughts. Still there but certainly not oppressing. There was no problem to solve. Get Productive is doing well in UK and it’s still shy of a year of existence. We don’t expect a lot from a one year old. In this significantly more resourceful mood, my mind employed one of my own productive strategy called Power of others which involves asking others for help. I’m going to get in touch with my friends and colleagues across the pond and seek their assistance in spreading the word.
So why am I writing about this? I’m sharing this simple anecdote to inspire you to stay present and resilient against negative thoughts. Don’t let them capture you away into a spiral of negativity.
Depression is a condition describing a range of moods from occasional blues to persistent and life crippling feeling of perpetual dark cloud. However transient, depression can rob a person of energy, interest, and enjoyment of life. And in recent months, I am seeing more clients who come into my practice because they are in fact feeling low in their life. About 10% of the population will experience depression each year according to a number of national and international reports on mental health. The world Health Organisation forecasts that by 2020, depression will be the second disease affecting our economy and lives in a major way. Many of the exercises in Get Productive can help you manage your mood, will help develop awareness that builds resilience and clarity that can protect you from depression.
So can mindfulness techniques. For a good course on mindfulness please see this Live Work Well website.
What I learned this week is that staying in the present moment doesn’t have to mean mediation and chanting mantras to be effective. Any pleasant, however unexpected experience will do the job. And isn’t that what life is about in the end. Our ability to enjoy what is or to choose activities that give us joy.
The time to build resilience is now! Be preventive or tackle the little niggles before they become massive junk rooms. Get a lot of cheese and wine. Pick up a copy of Get Productive on Kindle or paperback and stay positive, informed, and in control of your life as much as that’s possible. Be well!