As I drove up the hill to soccer practice I contemplated my depression. Clinical, I described my symptoms: low affect, loss in appetite, tired and groggy after ten hours of sleep, negative thoughts. Luckily I was still teetering on the edge of a real depressive episode, still able to reflect on my own mood and realize the difference between symptoms and self identity. I knew I was at the edge and I wanted to back away. Soccer would help … right? In the midst of the depression it seemed ridiculous. The cynical voice in my head crowed, “How is kicking a ball in circles going to fix this? You are not even good at soccer. What if missing goals and kicking the ball out of bounds like an idiot makes you feel worse?”
Don’t think, just drive. You told them you would be there, just show up.
As Woody Allen said, 80% of success is showing up. In my case, showing up to soccer, kicking the ball around, even out of bounds, actually works. By the end of 90 minutes on the field with my friends, I was feeling normal. I could smile a genuine smile. I was hungry for a healthy meal. I had energy and was excited for the rest of the day. Rationally, I knew it should work because I have been using sports and time outside to manage depression since I was little.
This concept that your behavior can affect your mindset is one reason why I named my business, Do Good, Be Good. I believe that good actions can create goodness in people. After twenty years of emotional highs and lows I have learned to structure my life around behavior that I know is good for me and for others because it makes me a better person. I use these terms “good and better”. They are intentionally vague. Some days a good person means optimistic and fun to be around. Some days good means loving, generous and patient. On the worst days better means the ability to pull myself back from the edge before I hurt people I love. I am lucky and grateful that my depression is mild enough that I can manage it with sunlight and exercise.
I believe that the lessons I have learned and continue to learn in doing good in order to be good translate to a way of life, whether you want to overcome depression, be successful at work, or both.