Today’s blog is really about connection with stories. It is Blue Monday, the day that we – as a nation, are collectively feeling at our most miserable. It’s January, Christmas is gone, the credit card bills are in, we’ve broken most of our New Year’s resolutions and it’s cold and dark out there. Add to this general concern about the environment, hostilities and politics – it is easy to feel a bit out of control and down. It’s also fair to say that we as humans are affected by our environment and circumstances. It’s not fair to say we have no control over the affect these have on us.
Blue Monday is a story, a PR stunt by Sky travel in 2005, something which over the past 15 years has grown into a real ‘thing’ – story that has fed many, many marketing and PR campaigns over the years – most of which are ultimately trying to sell you some version of a better life, whether that be travel, home improvements, personal development. Not all of these are asking you to part with money, some are asking you to make a change, offering different options or inviting you to look differently at a situation. Mine (this blog) included, to be fair; I am asking you to look at the stories you tell yourself.
When you own a story, your brain looks for ‘evidence’ to prove you right – and usually finds it. Once you have this ‘evidence’ your story becomes your reality. Why would you set yourself up to be miserable – even for a day? When you buy into the collective misery of Blue Monday you amplify it, for yourself and for those around you. Even the psychologist & happiness guru, Cliff Arnall, who did the original calculations for Sky Travel admits it was not helpful to have named a day as ‘the most depressing day’ and in recent years has campaigned for people to use it to think about creating positive change.
Like most good stories, ‘Blue Monday’ is believable, it reflects an element of truth – some people are affected by the dark winter months, some people are feeling the effects of a more sedentary life or are feeling the financial – or physical, aftermath of an indulgent holiday period; it’s easy to use this as an excuse for not taking responsibility for yourself. It is also an incredibly unhelpful story to buy into. Those who have ever experienced mental illness – as opposed to poor mental well-being, will know feeling low is not the same as depression, anxiety, neurosis or seasonal affective disorder. They will also know that one day – even a titled one like Blue Monday, makes little difference to the trajectory of the illness. A low mood is different, it is something you can choose to enjoy, something you can choose to do something about and ultimately something which will lift. I believe it is this low mood that Blue Monday exacerbates.
In the end you choose what stories you tell yourself – consciously or unconsciously. If you feel great and inspired in January, if you are storming ahead with business and personal goals well done – keep doing what you are doing. If, on the other hand, you are feeling a bit low, look at what you are feeding yourself, literally and emotionally. Are you being kind and empowering in the stories you tell yourself, are you getting enough connection with nature, your environment and the things that enrich you? Decide if you need to tell yourself a slightly – or radically – different story in order to be the person you want to be.
Remember your brain will hunt for (and find) evidence to support whatever you are focussed on – so focus on something that empowers you today and every day.
I bet your inbox is full of ways to beat Blue Monday, so I’m not going to go beyond asking you to look at what stories you buy into because they become your reality. I am going to ask you to think about what you amplify and spread, because as humans we are unquestionably energetically connected – one person’s mood and energy impacts another. And finally, I am going to suggest that today, and every day, we all choose kindness. We may not know all that is going on for those around us, what stories they are owning, whether or not they are feeling low. When we choose kindness we spread kindness, we are more open to connection and we may just make someone – or ourselves, feel better.
Whatever you are doing today I hope it’s a good day – or has some good bits.