Watching a video by business coach Shannon Waller, I want to express my sincerest gratitude before Christmas 2014. Gratitude is an inoculation against guilt or anxiety in your life. When you are grateful and you appreciate the people and things you have, you don’t feel bad about what you don’t have in you life. These are words to live by if you’re feeling lonely this Christmas season. Here’s my top 5 reasons I am grateful in 2014:
- Making New Friends – When I moved to China in September 2013 it was very difficult for me to adjust to the new culture, new environment and the Chinese language. Terry Jiang has become my best friend in Ningbo. I always appreciate how he helps me with simple and complex translation with other Chinese people, especially at the first business dinner I had with the owners of a Clothing Factory. It turned out these Chinese business people were speaking the local dialect in Ningbo, and since Terry was born in the same city, he could easily understand and interpret my conversion. Thank you for being such a great friend.
- Finding A Support Group – When you’re a stranger in a strange land, you can either go it alone or you can find a support group. Before I moved from South Africa to Ningbo, China I looked for a Toastmasters club and found only one. Just over one year later we now have 3 clubs and about 100 members. A special thank you to Ningbo #1 Toastmasters club and the immediate past president Vanessa Yang and new president Larry Kowk for your support.
- Support From My Mother – My mother has been a pillar of support my whole life. Having raised me by herself without my father, she did an amazing job. She was the one who kept in contact via Skype with me, sometimes on a daily basis, to give me encouragement. Mom I appreciate all those early morning or late night phone calls because of the time zone differences. A special thanks to my sister’s son Caleb and daughter Payton who often talked to me on Skype even though they couldn’t always see my video.
- Good Health – My father has had 4 heart attacks over 5 years; my mother has high blood pressure but no serious illnesses. So I am confident I have some good genes to keep me healthy, because I don’t exercise enough, hate jogging and never have enough time to go to the gym. Bad habits, like smoking, have returned while living in China, so I have to avoid other smokers to help me stop. Good health always includes eating healthily, drinking water and some exercise. However, I do have a good role model in the form of Uncle Andrew, who died at age 88 in 2015. He walked an average of +10km from the time I become conscious of his routines. So instead of reinventing the wheel and whenever possible, I plan to emulate his habits and daily routines which encouraged good health. Thank you Uncle Andrew!
- Relationships with Women – Whenever I was dumped, I used to believe I didn’t deserve it, I was such a great guy, and so on. Well now, I can easily say to all ex-girlfriends, thank you for breaking up with me, thank you for dumping or rejecting me. All the bad relationships with women in the past, makes my new relationships better because I learned how to avoid the same mistakes. As I always encourage other people who are trying to move on from past relationships, “You cannot open the door to new relationships, unless you close the door behind you.” Why? Because the draughty wind from the past will spoil the new opportunity in front of you. And as Tom Leykis taught me, the best revenge is to become successful.
“Chaos isn’t a pit. Chaos is a ladder. Many who try to climb it fail and never get to try again. The fall breaks them. And some are given a chance to climb, but they refuse. They cling to the realm, or the gods, or love. Illusions. Only the ladder is real. The climb is all there is.” Littlefinger, Game of Thrones
Recently I’ve been obsessed with this quote from the fantasy drama series, Game of Thrones. I’m not about to discuss analogies to the show or life lessons from the Lannisters. What I want to share with you is something very personal.
As I moved to China in 2013 to do an MBA degree. This meant an investment of at least two years in China to complete courses, learn the language and do an internship. There’s been times when I’ve been very lonely, there’s been times when I was frustrated. There were also times when I felt it wasn’t worth the effort and I’ll give up.
Some people I met after arriving didn’t last and went back home. Now I’m older than most of the students at Ningbo University, and I suppose that gives me some life experience. What life experience also does is, it gives me more memories, more people to miss. You feel down, and you think about all the things you don’t have, and the spiral continues downwards.
Here’s Five Way To Feel Up, Even When You’re Down
- Avoid Being Alone – This often difficult because when you feel low, you don’t feel like talking. The trap is that your mind will play games with you. So if you can find someone very talkative, hang out with them or call them. They will chit-chat and hopefully their energy will help lift you out of whatever is getting you stuck or down.
- Practise Gratitude – Sometimes we don’t realise what we’ve got until we don’t have it any more. Many people teach practising gratitude like Dan Sullivan. You can read a great book on this like Choosing Gratitude.
- Take A Walk – Sitting at your laptop or looking at your Smartphone doesn’t help. I found a great path outside the place where I stay that goes past a river and takes about 1 hour to walk. Once I jogged the route with German Professor of mine and it took 30 minutes. The point is to get out of your room, out of your apartment and walk.
- Listen To Great Music – Music can make you feel happy or sad. I have a playlist of upbeat music for those times when I feel low. So I put my headphones on and turn up the volume. Music can change your internal state faster than almost anything else.
- Keep On Climbing – I used to quote Napoleon Hill, “Keep on, keeping on…” to people who are despondent. Sometimes I wishes they would tell me something similar. At least I remember this for myself and now with the quote from Littlefinger I think about it daily.
This is a question from Yahoo! Answers that I answered and was voted Best Answer by the person who asked the question…
As the week keeps going, I’m feeling more and more depressed. I feel like pretty soon something is going to happen to me because of my bad decisions. What can I do to make me feel better about myself? And to not feel so depressed? I’ve been feeling depressed for about 2 weeks. Could this be something serious? Should I go to a doctor?Please, just give me some advice on how I can put off stress, and just get a little self-confidence.
Here’s my answer:
There is three suggestions I can make having experienced depression twice in my life before.
Firstly do all the things for yourself you wish other people would do. So for example if you wish someone would buy you a gift go and buy one for yourself. If you wish someone would take you out to a nice dinner or show. Do it for yourself.
Secondly help those less fortunate. This is maybe the most important because you will soon start to see there’s always someone else in a worse position. And when you do things to help others you will experience gratitude which open’s your heart. Gratitude is the key to changing the way you feel because you start to feel like you are making a difference in other people’s lives.
Lastly watch some comedy shows, stand-up comedy or funny movies. Go back to the classics like Charlie Chaplin or get the earlier Jim Carrey movies like Ace Ventura or The Mask, those really physical comedies with little words. Depression is a myth that’s in your head. You minimise yourself compared to other people. When you laugh you feel more like yourself meaning that you are not putting yourself down or patting yourself on the back. You just in equilibrium.