So it’s Blue Monday, allegedly the most depressing day of the year. We’re all skint after pushing the boat out for Christmas and our New Year’s Resolutions lay in tatters after dry January got very wet over the weekend thanks to that emergency booze stash. But it’s not all doom and gloom, sometimes we just need to focus on the positives and reprogram our thinking slightly to change our mindset. To prove just how much a few new ideas can help we asked Andy Cope author of Happiness: Your route map to inner Joy for some expert hacks to help banish those Blue Monday blues.
You only live once is, of course, a lie. You only die once. You live every single day. But sometimes it doesn’t feel like that. There are times when the normal rough and tumble of life becomes a right kicking.
Look around you on any run-of-the-mill Monday and you’ll see glumness. But on Blue Monday this morphs into full blown Irritable Bastard Syndrome.
There’s a certain boldness about being able to stare Blue Monday in the face and shove your middle finger back at it. Here are a few ideas that will help with that single digit salute.
1. Calculate your happiness
According to the esteemed researchers at the University of London’s Institute of Education, here are some monetary values of happiness:
I sincerely hope you can tick some of the boxes above, in which case, please do your sums. If you can tick them all then you can kick off 2018 £401,000 richer. That should put a spring in your step.
Too many people are putting happiness in the wrong time zone; I’ll be happy at Easter, I’ll be happy in the summer, I’ll be happy when I retire…
The result is we have a massive ‘wait problem’. Getting stuck in the rut of wishing your life away is a terrible waste of your days. In fact, it makes no sense at all. So wake up to the fact that Mondays and Fridays are equal. They both represent a 7th of your life. If you want to stand out, I dare you to celebrate Mondays with the same relish as Fridays!
3. Celebrate stuff that didn’t happen
Have you ever asked yourself, what hasn’t happened that I didn’t want that I haven’t celebrated?
Sadly, unless you’re a black belt happiness ninja your mind doesn’t sit in traffic thinking how lucky you are to have a car. It curses at the late meeting instead of rejoicing that you have a job. It tuts at the crumbs on the worktop instead of being grateful you’ve got (on the whole) wonderful children.
The opposite of savouring good experiences is to notice the many things that could have gone badly but didn’t. Hence, what hasn’t happened that you didn’t want that you haven’t celebrated?
Of course, it’s hard to notice something that didn’t happen. Have a go, it’s fabulous fun. In fact, it’s one of those mental muscles that gets stronger the more you exercise it. I’ll get you warned up, and then you can write your own list of bad stuff that hasn’t happened that you haven’t celebrated.
Here are your starters… the accident you didn’t have, the power cut that never happened, the headache you didn’t suffer, the supermarket queue that wasn’t there, the lack of red traffic lights on the way home, the train that wasn’t delayed…
4. Plenty of the f-word
Failure. Dirty, rotten, foul-mouthed, despicable failure.
‘Failure’ which is often harder to drop into a conversation than the phrase ‘donkey sodomy’. But we do need failure. Not failure the result: losing the business, losing the relationship, failing the interview. But failure the process: learning, improving, iterating, removing slack, becoming lean, becoming fighting-fit, installing effectiveness, getting really really good, broadening, widening, gaining wisdom, picking yourself up and smiling and trying once again. Yeah, that.
The whole process of succeeding requires lots and lots of the f-word. And we don’t like it: we want approval, we want love, we want accolades. But hang on a minute: no, you don’t. You really want to grow, you really want to discover who the heck you are, you really want to see just what your limits are. You want to start creating your personal best. If you want to shine, you will have to accept abject failure. Repeatedly. With tears at times. With jeers at others.
Failure yes. But stay in the game.
The truth is simple; if we’re unwilling to fail, we’re unwilling to succeed.
5. Bonus Tip for Blue Monday
If all else fails here’s an eleventh-hour one-liner that sums all the others up: Be the kind of person your dog thinks you are.
Weird, wonderful and cleverer than they look. Use them wisely.