A few days ago I had a dark day. Dark like those I had before I quit the rat race to try to live a different lifestyle.
I felt anxious and distinctly under the weather. One interesting project I am involved in suddenly looked a lot more daunting. It appeared as if it would not get off the ground for a lot longer than I thought. I was frustrated with a couple of other non-work related matters. Perhaps the sky was grey…
Then it struck me that these were largely incidental. What had really happened is that I had a conversation with Cathy O'Dowd (first woman to summit Everest from both sides and exceptional motivational speaker). Now, this should be a supremely positive experience and indeed it was a pleasure not only to talk to someone who impresses me but also to discuss my own project (this web site), the motivation behind it and the journey I am undertaking.
Knowing something is not the same as hearing it.
But, during the course of our Skype call she mentioned the apparent (and indeed actual) lack of focus on the Armchair Mountaineer.
I believe her words were “its a bit all over the place”. At the time it didn’t bother me, this is something I know and have spoken about not only with myself but those close to me. This is a failing but one that I have embraced, allowing it to lead me on a journey. I am not able to run off to the Andes for two months so this site will be more about how I fit adventure travel into my family life. Currently it is little more than a random expression of my interests and desires whilst I plan some adventures for 2017.
But back to my point. Knowing something is not the same as hearing it and I guess hearing this stuff from others has a different effect. You can tell yourself that a report you handed in before it was finished was not quite what it should have been, but hearing it from an outsider is infinitely more powerful.
By the same token a couple of months ago I did a small project for a client and I received amazingly positive feedback. Although I kind of knew I had done a decent job, I was infinitely more excited and moved to hear an outsider’s praise.
On discovering the root of my malaise I was able to laugh about it, look at it in a more motivational way and to renew my positivity. And this is a skill I am getting much better at.
Positivity is a currency. It earns interest.
A few days later this positivity allowed me to see more clearly what I want to achieve over the coming year. I woke up early on Friday morning and wrote another 2000 words of the book I have in my mind. I looked upon the faltering work project with renewed interest and renewed optimism.
Positivity breeds positivity. It is a currency that earns interest.
So much of what we see is coloured by our frame of mind and this is worth bearing in mind when experiencing a dark day.
Of course the real question is how to get into a state of positive rather than negative thought. Each person will have their own way. Personally I have a number of ways to do so but this is perhaps the most effective.
Try to do something you have never done before
For me this works particularly well if it is something physical but it could equally be simply learning something new. In last week’s case I forced myself to abandon the work I was doing and went for a nearby 10k (approx) run I do from time to time, with the intention of setting a best time.
The light was fading, the air chilly. A thin mist hung inches above the wet ground. As I started the clock and lengthened my stride I felt a little tightness in my cold hamstrings and the weight of the sticky earth. Unwillinging to release my trail shoes from its grasp, it reflected my own reluctance to quit the warmth of home.
The cows and sheep that had watched my balmy summer evening runs were gone. Beyond the drone of traffic on the dual carriageway the sodden slap-slap of my trail shoes was the only sound that accompanied me as I filled my lungs and emptied my mind.
Time ticked by and the rythm of my stride told me I would do what I had set out to do. The first 3k were slow, the middle steady but the last would be fast.
Streaked with mud, panting, I jogged back home from the fields in near darkness but released from my gloom.
For more information on Cathy's work click here.