One Magic Question I Ask Myself When I Fail

BROKEN

“Sorry, you can’t board this flight,” she said. I rubbed my ears in disbelief. In seconds, reality started kicking in. They won’t let me on that flight. It was some technical issue with my visa. I promised my 2-year-old I will be home today. I will not see her today after a long time. We are very attached. I was broken.

BLAME

15 hours away from home, ready to head back, and somebody decides MY plans don’t work for them. The worst part of course, is that it SHOULDN’T have happened. Then the blame starts, like a bell in my brain:

  • “How could you not take that piece of paper with you?!”
  • “You are worthless!”
  • “You are stupid!”

How many times in your life did you make plans, and then something REALLY stupid that you could have easily avoided happened, and you had to deal with a new reality? How many times have you blamed yourself for it? Whether it’s out of your control, or really your fault, you feel like shit. Some people don’t. I definitely do. Maybe your portfolio took a nosedive, or you got fired, or you killed someone in a car crash.

ENTER THE 10 IDEA LIST

I have been following James Altucher, and my favorite part in his daily practice is the 10 idea list — writing 10 ideas a day on any subject (read about it here). Those ideas can be anything. They can be good or bad. Most of mine are REALLY bad. The goal is to exercise the creative idea muscle. I decided to apply this concept to dissolving my depression.

THE MAGIC QUESTION

Ask yourself this: “What are 10 reasons that make this the BEST thing that ever happened to me?”

Trying to come up with these is difficult in a condition of stress, but it gives you the opportunity to learn. Here’s the list I came up with that day:

  1. Something bad might have happened if I were on that flight and I was spared from it (you never know)
  2. I gained three more days to see my grandparents, especially grandma who checked into the ER that same day
  3. I met 2 old acquaintances on my way back home and it was great to catch up and one conversation might actually turn into a business opportunity
  4. It’s an opportunity to spend more time with my parents
  5. It’s an opportunity to continue and taste my favorite food in the world (Israeli food)
  6. It’s an opportunity for me to practice experiencing a great sense of loss only to realize later that it’s not the end of the world (read Letters from a Stoic by Seneca)
  7. It’s an opportunity for my wife to show me how much she loves me because I really stood her up
  8. It’s a chance to celebrate my brother’s birthday
  9. It’s a chance to work more hours remotely and be traveling over the weekend when the office is closed
  10. It’s an opportunity to observe how me and those around me handle such an unexpected situation
  11. It’s an opportunity to observe my immense love for my daughter
  12. It’s an opportunity to write this post!
  13. It’s an opportunity to learn how to focus on tasks at hand while being upset

Oh well, I got 13. Either way, it’s both an awesome exercise for the creative muscle, and, the more I do it when shit happens, the better I feel.

Depression comes and goes, failure will always happen. If you are able to alleviate it to a point where your day is manageable then you’ve already won half the battle. If you come up with 10 ideas, maybe you learned something too.

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