We all have those gloomy days where we feel like we can’t justify doing anything, when we have no answer to the question, ‘What’s the point?’ When we’d rather lay in bed than face the world. Sometimes these episodes can go on for much longer than just a day.
I’m not proclaiming to have the solution for depression.
These are just a few things you can try that might give you that tiny bit of motivation you need to put on some clothes and face that mean soup of futile catastrophe that is our world. I battle this motivational crisis fairly often, so I set out to comb a bunch of sources to find a bat to beat this demon with. I found four. These are the four best things I came across:
Think about the good shit in your life
For 3 minutes think about the three things you’re most grateful for. The stuff you’re really happy to have. Everyone has them. Don’t only think about them, but let the warmth of the gratitude flow through you. Just swim in it for a bit. I’ll let Tony do his thing:
Imagine yourself as already having kicked ass
We all have ambitions. Progress is exciting. Use this excitement as a motivational tool. Decide, as clearly as possible, what your goals are. Scribble them on a sheet of paper. And then imagine yourself as having attained them. Imagine what it will feel like, look like, and maybe it will even have some kind of smell.
Stand like Wonder Woman
Your posture is a reflection of your mental state. What social psychologists call ‘non-verbals’ – essentially your body language – directly affect your feelings, and then your thoughts, which go on to affect your actions. And then your actions change your life. Unless you’re a fundamentalist determinist – then you’re just a leaf in the wind and have no business trying to change your life.
Amy Cuddy, the social psychologist, talks about power poses in her TED talk. Essentially, you need to change your posture into one that reflects how you want to feel. Stand like a powerful person if you want to feel powerful. The same goes for confidence.
If you position your body like a confident person you will feel, and then think, and then behave like a confident person. And then when you see the results of this confidence it will reinforce a belief in yourself and you will actually become a confident person. Decide what kind of person you want to be, and then become that person using this technique. Practice it enough and you can become anything you want.
Get your own superhero outfit
“The clothes you wear change your behaviour and can either add or subtract from your mental abilities“, says David McRaney in his book You Can Beat Your Brain (2013)
“The findings suggested that the physical act of wearing a lab coat actually made the subjects better at a test of attention and sharpness. The wearer embodied the symbolic nature of her guise.” – David McRaney, You Can Beat Your Brain
The phenomenon is called ‘enclothed cognition‘. It turns out an outfit is more than just some bits of fabric stuck together. It’s a set of symbols which communicate a particular bunch of ideas which trigger associations in yours and other people’s semantic net. Every outfit triggers different sets of associations. A suit, for example, signals that someone is ready for business. And it turns out that suits are pretty good at influencing people because of the associations with – amongst others – power, competence, and status. Studies show that a woman is more likely to be hired the more masculine her attire; people who wear glasses are both perceived as being smarter and feel smarter, but there is also evidence suggesting that they perform better on intelligence tests.
So, the same way your posture and mindset affect your thoughts, behaviour, and abilities, so does what you cover yourself with. Just look at Harvey…
“As if their fibres were enchanted, the things you wear cast a spell over your persona.” – David McRaney, You Can Beat Your Brain
I don’t think I need to say any more: instead of deciding what to wear based on appropriateness, you should ask yourself, ‘How do I want to feel today?’
Here are the four things again, in case you’ve forgotten already:
- Think about the three things you’re most grateful for – 3 minutes
- Create a mental image of you having attained your ambitions – 3 minutes
- Change your posture into one that reflects how you want to feel – 2 minutes
- What to wear? How do you want to feel? – 2 minutes
These four things can be done in 10 minutes, so you could start each day with them as a launchpad, a primer for your state of being for the rest of the day. Tell me if they work, or don’t work. Share the knowledge if you think of someone who could benefit. We’re all in this together, so let me know what works for you.