When Worries Pile Up

The thing no one ever talks about is that we acquire worries and rarely let them go.

Once we accept them, we add them to a collection of previous fears that have not been resolved.

My mother was like that.

I can never remember her letting go of a worry to replace it with a new one – she kept them all.

And today we have a mental health crisis especially among young people under 25 who are connected constantly.

The human brain was designed to be on edge for survival of our cave dwelling predecessors fearing their safety not 24/7 social connection.

Constant stimulation overload takes its toll slowly because fears keep piling on top of each other.

41% of adults say they have more anxiety today than they did in the early days of the pandemic.

Half say they will never fully recover from it even after it’s over.

Fear is useless – trust yourself to discard things that make you anxious.

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Feeling Overwhelmed

The more we focus on ourselves and our needs, the more stressed we become — isn’t that interesting?

The reason anxiety and depression are exponentially growing is that we’re faced with more problems, trying hard to deal with them and not being able to limit the number of concerns we have at any given time.

It is why Dale Carnegie warned us to talk in terms of the other person’s interests, ask questions rather than make statements and learn to become a good listener.

Even though he taught public speaking, happiness was a focus of not talking about yourself.

Have you seen In Treatment on HBO?

Compelling half hour shows about people who are essentially in a therapy session – it’s a hit perhaps because we love to talk about our problems.

You’ll never hear anyone thinking of others, focus on the needs of someone other than themselves or become skilled at using their ears more than their mouth.

Step one is get the focus off you and direct it to others to start feeling less overwhelmed.

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Never Trust Your Gut … Unless

Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman wants you to check these three things off before you listen to your gut feeling:

  1. Is this an area where patterns actually exist to make a judgment?
  2. Do you have long experience of the subject?
  3. Have you tested your understanding of it against reality previously?

That’s 3 yeses to reassure yourself that your gut feeling is more than a reckless impulse. 

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Living Someone Else’s Dream

Living someone else’s dream is like driving another person’s car.

It gets you to your destination, but you don’t own it.

I always wanted to be a dj and I didn’t want to go to college.  My father insisted saying “you’ll be the smartest dj”.  I listened and got my college education but never gave up my dream.

Be the person you want to be.

Take control of your own dreams.

Make them bold and adventurous.

And there’s no time limit – you can even start today.

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Guarantee a Happy Mood

Pick a number, say 20.

The first 20 people you meet today, smile at them.

No need to engage in conversation, a smile will work just fine.

Most people will smile back, a few won’t – some won’t make eye contact because they are distracted.

By the time you’ve counted 20 people in a row you can smile at, you’ve programmed your happy mood for the day.

If you still have doubt, what happens when you carry your burdens in facial expression – most people know to avoid you and you’ve pretty much set the wrong tone for your day.

The brain likes to be programmed and 20 smiles can do it.

Feel free to forward these DayStarters to friends.

Bouncing Back

Recovering from a critical mistake, a bad break or a bad day has less to do with what went wrong than what went right.

Take any success and break it down – there are some pretty steep low points for the average person on the way to their goals and eventual happiness.

Bouncing back requires looking forward not back – a lesson learned is not always the answer.

So the new term is bouncing ahead – looking forward to the next time at bat, understanding that no one hits 1.000 and that setbacks are to be expected and even welcomed because turning things around isn’t about what went wrong but what went right.

Fear of Making Mistakes

The biggest mistake is to believe that we must never make a mistake.

Mistakes are what drives success.

If you were told that mistakes will lead you to where you want to go, you would welcome the challenge.

We see all these people who have worked through adversity on their way to the top and yet we hold ourselves to an impossible standard of zero screw ups.

Don’t fear mistakes, learn from them because without pain there can be no gain.

Changing Loneliness

There are people who are constantly interacting with others who are lonely.

And there are those who have a much smaller and limited friend universe who are feeling anything but alone.

Loneliness plagued 54% of 20,000 Americans surveyed by Cigna in 2018 – a year later it shot up to 61% with 18-22 year-olds the loneliest.

Facebook friends are nice but they don’t count.  In fact, social media makes us feel lonelier than ever.

It’s not the number of people in our lives, it’s the quality of honest conversations we have with others.

Taking a Mental Health Day

It’s not a day off.

It’s a day on — with expressed goals of refocusing on life other than anxiety, complexity, frustration, work and digital devices.

A planned walk, a conversation with someone else, an entirely different routine and things that are opposite from the stressors that weigh us down.

The difference between a sick day and a mental health day is one is a retreat from being overwhelmed and the other is a structured treat for becoming refreshed.

Developing Confidence

When I was on the air, I worked for a boss who was a task master – very tough on his air staff and he listened to the station all the time (even the middle of the night) to catch your mistakes and then call you during your show.

Talk about PTSD.

Looking back, it wasn’t the criticisms I remember, it’s the compliments – a tough coach who also knew how to pay a meaningful compliment.

We can live with high expectations and high standards.

But we cannot live without appreciation.