Depression infects the clarity of your mind like a virus attacks the body. It weakens your defenses, cripples your resolve, and leaves you vulnerable to corrosive thoughts. It's no wonder that people who've survived a suicide attempt marvel at their own distorted thinking. Thank god I didn't go through with it. I never even considered options when I was suicidal. What was I thinking? I wasn't in my right mind--but am now. When suicidal behaviors are detected, prevention can occur. However, there are many children and adults whose suicidal symptoms are well hidden. In these instances, detection and prevention remain elusive. The person whose suicidal symptoms are well hidden and who dies by suicide surprises and stuns us, leaving no clues to consider. The hard and cold truth is that not all suicides are preventable. "Suicidality" is defined as a series of ideas and behaviors, ranging from subconscious thoughts to the act of suicide itself. Researchers specializing in diagnosing and treating suicide believe that detailing distinct categories of suicidality helps identify at-risk children and adults, as well as aids in prevention and intervention efforts.10 If you have a mood disorder, or know someone who does, become familiar with these suicidal stages and categories: Self-harm behavior with subconscious suicidal intent is the category that describes the actions of children and adults who hurt, wound, or harm themselves without understanding the intention of their behavior. Often, the self-harm act has a care-less or ambiguous tone of its own. I totally don't know how I cut my arm. The car came out of nowhere and hit me as I crossed the street. Inquiring further about "unintended" cuts or wounds, self-destructive behaviors, or "accidental" overdosing may reveal feelings of unworthiness, guilt, and despair, and pessimistic attitudes--symptoms that suicidal thinking is percolating just under the surface of awareness. Make Eye Contact and Be Confident - Body language is important in all interactions, but in none more so than at work. If you want people to respect and follow along with what you're saying, you'd better stand straight, look them all in the eyes and generate rapport through your confident demeanour.

Look everyone in the eye so that they can see how sure you are of yourself. It will bleed through in their impression of you. Be Willing to Adapt - If something isn't working, change it up. Mirroring doesn't really work when you're talking to multiple people at the same time, so you really need to be yourself, but sometimes you can make small adjustments and see how they affect the people you are talking to. Just as the home you live in is (hopefully) built carefully with sturdy materials, so too should your relationship be. John Gottman and his fellow psychologist (and wife) Julie Gottman developed a mathematical system--or what might be better described as an architectural system--for whether a couple would remain together or divorce, based on physiological data collected while the pair of subjects got into a disagreement. The Gottman's used decades of their research to create the "sound relationship house theory," which outlines seven levels of a successful love relationship. The third level of the Gottmans' relationship house (see previous page) is "turn toward instead of away," based on studying newlyweds and following up with them six years later. The couples who remained married had something in common: When one member of the couple made a "bid"--for attention, affection, or some other kind of connection--the other member of the couple acknowledged it and responded positively. As an example: If your partner asks, "How do I look?," she is both asking a question and bidding for your attention and you should give her a positive response ("You look amazing!"). Or it may be a nonverbal bid, like putting her head on your shoulder, in which case you should affirm your partner nonverbally in response, such as by wrapping your arm around her. In the Gottmans' research, members of the couples who stayed married over the six years responded to these bids an average of 86 percent of the time. Those who divorced responded only 33 percent of the time. Work to identify "bids" when your partner expresses them--both the explicit ones and the subtler ones. As often as possible, respond to your partner in a positive way when they seek your attention. Psychologists define capitalization as celebrating someone's good news--putting an exclamation point on another's accomplishment or success. Nobody wants to feel great about some piece of news only to get a half-interested response from their partner--you want them to be more excited than you are. While it is far from surprising that people like to be celebrated, it turns out that how couples handle the good times may be as important as how they weather the bad ones. In one study, seventy-nine dating couples answered questions about the strength of their relationship and taped interviews in which they discussed both positive and negative life events. Two months later, the well-being of each relationship was assessed, including whether the couple was still together.

How participants responded to positive events was found to be more closely related to the strength of their relationships than discussions about negative events. In another study, researchers found by observing newlywed couples over a two-year period that positive perceptions of capitalization were related to higher ratings of marital satisfaction for both husbands and wives. Make a big deal about good news. Celebrate small daily wins in addition to major promotions or successes. If you are in a new relationship, celebrating positive events can increase intimacy and build a strong foundation for your relationship. At the rate we're going, it won't be long before the first words of all babies will be, "I'm bored". Les Brown says, "Imagine being on your deathbed and standing around your bed, the dreams given to you by life, the ideas you that you never acted on, the talents, the gifts, the abilities that you never used, and there they are standing around your bed looking at you with large angry eyes saying, "We came to you, and only YOU could've given us life, and now we must die with you forever!" And the question is, if you died this very moment, what will die with you? What dreams? What ideas? What talent? What greatness that you showed up to bring? Don't allow the fear of failure and the attractiveness of playing it safe in life to draw you in. You can't get out of life alive. You've got to die to leave here." A lot of us have good ideas and great goals but, for some reason, we fail to take action and see them through. It feels "risky" to put the blinders on, focus on ourselves, focus on goals, and to say "nothing else matters" until we get to where we want to be. We allow emotions, fear, and our ego to get in the way and stop us from doing great things and becoming the great person we want to be. Nelson Mandela said, "There is no passion to be found playing small and settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living." Denzel Washington said, "I found that nothing in life is worthwhile unless you take risks." These are highly-respected, successful men, and, what most would call, "great" men. To say the least, they have achieved a lot. We'd rather play it safe, stay in our comfort zone, and not experience anything "hard" or difficult. We're afraid to risk losing friends, experiencing uncomfortable emotions, others having negative opinions about us, or looking boring and uncool.

We afraid to risk "not having fun" like everyone else. We trade having our act together for the temporary convenience of having fun, entertainment, and feeling comfortable. We're struggling to get our act together because we're choosing to be complacent, weak, and lazy and we only want to do what's easy, fun, and painless. We dream of the day we'll have our act together, but we're unwilling to do what's necessary to make it happen. We avoid the work involved. We avoid the discomfort. We avoid the pain. We're unwilling to live life differently because we're too worried about blending in with the crowd. We don't want to be the oddball. We don't want to be the person always working and never having fun. We don't want to be "uncool". Instead of living life the hard way so our future will be easier, we're choosing making every minute of every day as easy as possible. Then, when the easy and painless choices catch up to us and start making life difficult, we complain, seek pity, and say things like, "life is so hard" and "life is a bitch". If you're harder on yourself than life can possibly be on you, you will find life is pretty simple and not as hard as everyone makes it out to be. Stop taking the easy route - it's crowded, slow, and you're surrounded by whiners and complainers. The hard route is like driving on a highway with no traffic and no speed limit - if you stay on it, you'll get to where you're going faster than you can imagine. Do what average people say "no" to. Become comfortable with pain. Become friends with pain. Pain teaches, toughens you up, and makes you stronger.

Experience and a relationship with pain helps you keep going when most give up and quit. Instead of avoiding pain altogether, like most of us do, use it and learn from it. Avoiding pain today guarantees you're going to, by default, endure a different, and much worse, pain tomorrow. Endure the pain of controlling your spending habits so you don't have to endure the pain of being broke. Endure the pain of getting up early, exercising, and working towards goals so you don't have to endure the pain of being lazy, fat, and unsuccessful. Endure the pain of telling yourself "no" so you don't have to endure the pain of getting older and wishing you had made better choices. Endure the pain today so you can avoid, even worse, pain in the future. No one fully enjoys the hard road, but it's the right one to be on. Work place interactions are tough. Meetings and presentations can be murder. If you're nervous, don't feel alone. Millions of men and women get up every day and present something to their colleagues, but if you can maintain your calm, outward confidence and develop a strong position in the room, I guarantee those people will like you far more than if you let nerves get the best of you. For the most part, I recommend finding a way to meet someone new in a low stress situation, at least until you feel comfortable in places like night clubs and parties (much higher stress levels). However, despite the outward discomfort you may experience, the process is pretty much the same. The real difference is whether you meet someone cold for the first time or if you meet them through someone else. A date you meet through a friend will already have a good indication of the type of person you are, usually playing up the good parts. So, your job is to keep those good parts in focus and to provide context for the rest. Talk about your family, the goals you have in life and the ways in which you'll get ahead in life. Before you even land that date, you need to do your prep work. I'm not talking about mastering a cheat sheet list of pickup lines, or trying on every outfit in your closet to make a killer first impression.