By Daniel Bourke
My alarm was sounding for 9 minutes before I realized it was ringing. I thought it was the background noise to the dream I was having.
I could’ve gone back to sleep but I didn’t.
The first 10 minutes of today was tough.
It’s 7:18 a.m. now. I’ve been up for just over an hour. It’s slowly getting easier.
An hour ago I didn’t want to do anything today. It was a weird feeling, it was depressing.
I began questioning myself, why would I be feeling like this?
Lack of sleep?
Maybe, but I got at least 7.5 hours.
Not wanting to work on what I’m working on?
I’m loving what I’m learning right now, that can’t be it.
I realized trying to find a reason may take longer than what it’s worth. It could be just one of those days. I can accept that.
I put on a mask on sometimes. I become extremely positive and energetic around other people to maintain my always happy image.
The majority of the time I don’t require a mask. That’s generally who I am.
I’ve worked out a few things that I can do to shake the depressed feelings. They will never go fully away, they can’t. It’s the yin and yang. You can’t have positive feelings without the negative. Simply being positive implies that there’s a negative.
There is something of a civil war going on within all our lives.
– Martin Luther King Jr.
I fight this war every day.
Here’s how I win.
When I’m surrounded by other people, I feed off their energy. The majority of the time I’m an extrovert. So I draw my superpowers from being around other people.
As soon as I enter a room with like-minded people, the yang (Chinese for Sunny-side) takes over.
Be careful though, people can have the opposite effect of what you want. If you’re surrounded by the wrong people, the yin (Chinese for Shady-side) will take over.
The relationships you have with others are the number 1 thing that will influence how you feel. Knowing this, I surround myself with the right people and work tirelessly to maintain and improve those relationships.
How do you find the right people? There’s no right way, you’ll know when you do.
This is what I did this morning. I made myself move. Getting out of bed was a struggle. 100 thoughts entered my brain as to why I shouldn’t do anything today.
So what did I do?
I literally started to walk away from them. Being still in one place has worked for me in the past (meditation) but not today.
I put headphones in and started walking down my street. I walked towards the waterfront not far from my home.
It was one of the clearest mornings I’ve ever seen. Depressed feelings starting to fade.
Aside from the endorphin release and lymph circulation brought upon from moving (both mood boosters), walking is fun.
We spent thousands of years evolving to be able to walk on two legs. It’s no surprise that using them for 20 minutes feels good.
Any movement can do. Before I went walking I did 50 jumping jacks.
Change the body, change the mind.
– Tony Robbins
I changed my body.
During the walk, I said good morning to a half dozen people. Remember, I draw my energy from being around people. I was leeching their positive morning vibes and using them to build up my own. Surround yourself with the right people. Anyone disciplined enough to be up and moving first thing in the morning is who I want to be around.
When I got home from walking, I started reading some Stoic philosophy.
Circumstances are what deceive us — you must be discerning in them. We embrace evil before good. We desire the opposite of what we once desired. Our prayers are at war with our prayers, our plans with our plans.
– Seneca, Moral Letters, 45.6
This quote is from The Daily Stoic. It speaks directly to the internal battle I faced this morning. Whether or not to do anything today.
Reading this taught me that I’m not alone, even ancient Stoic philosophers experienced this kind of battle. It never ends. The waves of the ocean will never go away, we can only learn how to build ships and to ride them.
This is exactly what I’m doing now. I’m 750 words into this post and it’s changed how I feel.
I’m winning the battle now. Writing my problems down and reflecting on them makes them become much less significant.
What was I worried about, why was I feeling down?
There’s still no answer to those questions.
If you’ve never written anything before, try it. 100 words of nothing. The benefits are immense, trust me.
For me, the main takeaway of the speech is that the solution to all of your problems. This piece of advice has never let me down.
The feeling of creating something and sharing it with the world is something everyone should experience.
Even right now, before I’ve even posted this, I’m feeling the benefits.
You may think, “I can’t make good art”. Art is subjective. Make it for yourself.
I’m selfish, this post is really for me but I’m putting it out there in case it manages to help one person. Even if it doesn’t, it’s helped me.
How do I feel now?
I’m a totally different person. Going through everything above has changed how I feel.
I just helped my dad get a splinter out of his foot. I helped one person today. That’s another thing, helping someone else will make you feel better.
Here’s your challenge for the next time you feel down. Find the right people. Move your body. Read something. Write something. Create something. Help someone.
It’s worked for me.
Today is going to be a great day.