Making Mondays Better. Banishing the Blues.

How we feel about things has a lot to do with our mindset – our perceptions. We talk about the Monday Morning Blues as if it really exists. Nothing tangible happens on a Monday that doesn’t happen on a Tuesday. It’s just that Monday follows Sunday – our day off. Tuesday follows Monday, and because we have negative perceptions of Monday, Tuesday automatically feels better. Wednesdays are pretty dismal because they are the point of no return for the week. On Thursday the weekend is closer. On Friday we just have to hold on for a few hours and then it’s the weekend. It’s all mental tricks. For each day we have a particular perception that frames our experience of it.

So let’s start by giving your most recent Monday a rating out of ten. Where one equals ‘terrible’ and ten equals ‘brilliant’. If it’s a low score such as a three or a four, then ask why is it as high as that and not a two or a one.  This is a technique I use in my coaching practice. How did it get to a three of four? This way you will focus on the things that make your typical Monday bearable. Why is it not an absolute zero? At this point, I suggest that waking up above ground counts for, at least, a score of one. You can then ask yourself, what you can imagine yourself doing to take yourself one point up the scale, or even just a half a point. Now try doing it.

Begin Monday, or any day, by asking yourself what three things you are looking to that day, however small. Write them down. If you can’t think of anything then create something to look forward to that will become part of your Monday routine. At the end of each Monday, write down three things you were grateful for that day, however small.

Ask yourself what score would Monday need to be, realistically,  for it to be ‘good enough’. Does it have to be an eight, nine or ten? Would a five, six, or seven be good enough?

Finally, why not apply the same strategy to all days of the week? Try it everyday for a month. Yes of course, these are just mental tricks, but as mental tricks got you into this frame of mind in the first place, it’s only sounds reasonable that you should give them a chance to get you out of the Monday blues. . . and to help you balance those negative perceptual filters for life in general.


Bright Moments: Do Re Mi . . . Pass It On!

It’s often the petty daily hassles that drag us down and cause us stress and those little surprise daily uplifts that balance it all out. So, I just thought I’d pass on this bright moment.

(More than 200 dancers were performing their version of Do Re Mi, in the Central Station of Antwerp, with just 2 rehearsals they created this amazing stunt! Those 4 fantastic minutes started the 23 of march 2009, 08:00 AM. It’s a promotion for a Belgian television programme  looking for someone to play the leading role, in the musical of The Sound of Music).


Having Better Days By Balancing the Daily Hassles & Uplifts

Dicing with Boredom. . . & Coping Styles

If you’re constantly channel surfing and find yourself watching the same old stuff, over and over again, stuck on facebook or twitter for hours on end, and the fridge door is opening and closing at night so much that the neighbours think you’ve having a disco in the kitchen, chances are YOU ARE BORED!

None of these activities are intrinsically ‘bad’, it’s just that sticking to the same habitual patterns of of ”boredom relief‘ is hardly likely to relieve boredom. It’s important to take a reality check from time to time and ask ‘Am I hungry or bored?’ or ‘Do I really want to watch the 1930s movie in ‘brown & white’ or am I bored? Am I networking or ‘net-jerking’? To relieve boredom we usually go through the same rituals, such as eating, drinking or watching TV simply because they are our tried, tested and trusted ways of relieving boredom. There’s also an element of emotion-focused coping. This means that we use food or TV to replace the negative emotions associated with boredom. However, emotion-focused coping should only really be a short-term solution. It’s a quick fix but it doesn’t cut to the heart of the problem, that is, boredom. Instead, it just deals with the symptoms.

There’s an old saying that variety is the spice and this sounds like I’m ‘stating the bleedin’ obvious’, but you’re only bored because you aren’t doing anything that you’re really interested in at that moment! So rather than stick to the quick-fixes, here’s a little technique that helps make up your mind to do something different. I’ve borrowed the idea from the book The Dice Man by Luke Rhinehart. It’s the story of a therapist who decides to live his life according to the roll of dice, with alarming consequences. However, we are only going to subject our boredom to chance!

Here’s how:

Make a list from 1 to 21 of the things you could be doing to relieve the boredom, that doesn’t include food, drink or TV (or any other of your rituals). The reason it’s 21 things is because that’s the combinations of a numbers on a pair of dice (1 & 1, 1 & 2, 1 & 3. . .and so on up to 5 & 6 and 6 & 6). A third of the things should include things you have been putting off such as  ‘decluttering your wardrobe’. A third should be personal challenges that you never seem to make time for such as ‘learn a new language’. The remainder are things you like doing to relax such as ‘go for a walk’ or ‘read a book’, and so on.

So, the next time you feel board and find your fingers zapping the remote control or opening and closing the fridge door, reach for a pair of dice and your list. Roll the dice and add up the dots and do whatever number is on your list. No excuses, no second roll. Just do it. The afterwards review your thoughts and feelings? Did it do the trick and relieve your boredom? If not, then roll again and try something else.

Negative emotions can effectively put us on a sort of remote control. We are controlled by the negative emotions and act in habitual, quick-fix ways to relieve the symptoms. The dice technique is a fun techniques for pattern-breaking, to get us to consider other options. However, it is no substitute for making informed choices and adopting a control-focused coping style, that is, we seek to tackle the problem at its cause, not just mop up the symptoms.

So next time, you’re faced with an unpleasant emotion, instead of reaching for the cake slice or the remote control ask yourself what’s behind it, and what you can do to tackle it at source.


What Will the Korean People Make Of My Marine Metaphors?

What will the Korean people make of 'Don't Wait For Your Ship To Come In. . . Swim Out To Meet It?

What will the Korean people make of 'Don't Wait For Your Ship To Come In. . . Swim Out To Meet It?

I’m not sure what the Korean people will make of it but it’s been confirmed that a translation of my bookDon’t Wait For Your Ship To Come In. . . Swim Out To Meet It’ is going ahead.  It’s great news. I’ve never had a book published in Korea before although  I’m also not sure how my jokes will translate. . . seeing as some of them barely make it in English. Then there’s the poem, and the cocktail recipes and the playlist for the personal development party. . . then there’s the  goal setting acronyms (such as GO-FLOW) and all the puns, word play and marine metaphors? Will the title stay the same? This is even before I consider how the psychology and coaching approach will be perceived.

With a few other translations in the pipeline I foresee the online translation programs going into overdrive as I try to work out exactly what I’m advising people in far off lands.