Monthly Archives: September 2017

Why people generally like to be asked to help.

We often speak about the buzz it’s possible to get from helping someone.

And there’s no doubting how good it can feel to lend a hand.

But what if you’re the one who needs help?

What if you’re in a fix that you can’t get out of on your own?

What if you need someone to help you carry your load?

Ask for help.

Why is it so hard to do this though?

Is it because we’re embarrassed to admit that we can’t cope alone?

Is it because we don’t want to be a burden on others?

Is it because we’ve been brought up to deal with things ourselves?

Whatever the reason, it’s time to get over it.

In some cases you’ll face challenges that you’ll never solve without help.

That good feeling you get from helping someone else isn’t exclusive to you, you know.

More often than not, when you ask for help you’ll get it.

And if you ask the right person, they’ll enjoy supporting you too.

So what do you need help with? Who are you going to ask?

And when are you going to ask them?

Help others by learning from what has helped you.

Going through your own problems with mood may make you wonder if there could ever be anything positive that might come out of it.

Naturally, emerging from the other end of the tunnel is clearly something to be proud of.

Something to feel good about.

But what of the darker times themselves?

It may not seem obvious at the time, but facing a challenge like this can give you a pretty useful perspective when it comes to helping others.

Perhaps this ‘been there, done that’ experience could help you be more understanding and empathetic when someone else is facing up to their own bad time?

Whilst I think we’d all agree that being told by someone to ‘pull your socks up’ when you’re low is utterly, dreadfully the wrong approach, it can also be the case that the exact opposite – gushing, sad-eyed empathy – may not be what you’re looking for either.

Sometimes you need a touch of pragmatism, for someone to step in and lend a hand.

If you’ve ever had help and support that worked for you, please learn from it.

Then think about adopting the same approach yourself when somebody else is in need.

Focusing on your saddest days probably won’t make you happy.

Say you wanted to achieve excellence in a particular sport.

Maybe you’d have your eye set on competing in some big event.

Perhaps even the Olympics?

It’s going to take complete focus.

A huge amount of work.

Real belief in yourself.

Instead of practicing like there’s no tomorrow, would it make sense to spend every day thinking about how bad you were before you started?

To concentrate on your weaknesses?

To dwell on your lack of potential?

Of course not.

So isn’t it rather odd that when our moods are low, we can be inclined to pass all our time wondering about why we feel this way?

We desperately seek a reason for our state of mind, thinking that this will help in some strange way.

Do you think the champion high jumper wastes weeks trying to work out why she kept knocking the bar off when she was in her teens?

I don’t think so.

Thinking about being unhappy is very likely to leave you feeling, well, unhappy.

So what do you think might happen if you thought instead about being happy?

Surely it’s better to focus your energy on getting yourself back into a better place than it is to agonise why you got into a bad one?

Finding space to think.

You know that thing where you’re supposed to tap your head while simultaneously rubbing your stomach?

I’m not very good at it.

That’s possibly because I’m a ‘one thing at a time’ kind of guy.

Some of us seem able to multi-task while others operate best when they’re fully focused on a single objective.

But my real point today is that when you need to do some proper thinking, it can be hard to concentrate when there are distractions around you.

On the train up to San Francisco the other day I found myself reading the same sentence over and over thanks to two phone conversations going on next to me.

In the end I got up and found a quieter part of the train.

Sometimes we can all do with a little peace, a little solitude, a little quiet time.

If you can find this space, it’s surprising how much it can add to the clarity of your thinking.

Often you’ll need to actively seek it out.

But it’s worth the effort, even if it’s not always easy to do.

Even on rainy days, you get to decide if you’ll use an umbrella.

There’s the distinct possibility that today could be a perfect one for you.

How very lovely this would be.

Perfect days, however, tend to come few and far between.

And far be it from me to rain on your parade but let’s face it, isn’t it more likely that this will be an average kind of day?

Perhaps even a less-than-average one?

There are those who exhort us to spring out of bed every morning, determined that this will be the best day of our lives.

I’m sure it helps to keep a positive mind-set, if you can.

However I also think it pays to be realistic.

If you’ve had perfect (or almost-perfect) days in the past, you’re pretty certain to have them again in the future.

But not necessarily right here, right now.

So go ahead with your eyes open and make the most of what the day throws at you, remembering that within limits you still have a good deal of control over how you’ll feel at the end of it.

Makers make merry moods.

When did you last make something?

(A fuss doesn’t count, nor does a bed.)

I’m talking about physically assembling something.

Putting together the pieces that are needed to create something new.

Bringing something to life.

Your grandparents wouldn’t believe the world you live in, where food often comes pre-prepared – sometimes even pre-cooked.

Where you don’t buy coat-hooks at the hardware store, but instead take home a mounting panel with the hooks already attached to it.

We’re not even very likely to make our own entertainment, resorting instead to sitting in front of the TV.

Yet when we do actually make something ourselves, there can be a tremendous rush of pleasure, even if the result isn’t always completely perfect.

Of course it takes longer to make something than it does to buy it already made.

And thanks to weird economies of scale that I don’t always get, it can even cost you more to buy the parts or ingredients than it would set you back to purchase something already finished.

But nothing can replace the sheer pleasure of baking a cake or a loaf of bread.

Of building some bookshelves.

Of creating a hand-made greetings card for someone you care a lot about.

OK, I know that you’re too busy today to be able to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

But making something doesn’t necessarily mean making something on a grand scale.

There really is a big emotional return from making something from scratch.

Today could be the day to do it.

Low mood isn’t funny, but cartoons are.

Some people in life are natural joke-tellers.

Others (like me) love a good joke but are pretty hopeless when it comes to delivering them.

But whether you’re a dab hand with witty repertoire or not, I’m sure you enjoy a good laugh.

They say that laughter is the best medicine, and whilst I wouldn’t recommend relying solely on watching episodes of The Simpsons if you contract malaria, there’s no doubting that laughing does you good.

It usually makes you feel good too.

Helpfully nature has given us the ability to laugh when we see or hear something funny, even if our mood is otherwise low.

This can come in very handy when you’re in a rocky state and don’t feel like doing all the other things you know might do you good (get exercise, socialise etc).

Books of cartoons have worked for me in the past.

As have videos of favourite funny films and TV shows.

You won’t feel like getting them when your need is greatest so keep some supplies handy.

I’m not joking.

Sorry, you knew that was coming.