And if it's not interesting, don't put yourself down - tell a story that illustrates the diversity of your job. Every position can be described this way if you know how to go about it. Ask Educated Questions - Get in there and ask questions about the people you meet, but make sure they are educated based on the rest of the conversation. It shows that you're listening, and that you have something to add to any part of the conversation. A bar conversation is usually pretty simple. It's loud in there, people have been drinking at least a little bit, and there are plenty of distractions (again alcohol and usually TVs). So you don't need to discuss Thoreau or the nature of existence, but you should try to be as engaging as possible within the constraints of the room and the atmosphere. To make sense of this pattern, which is an easy and common habit to fall into, it's helpful to look at why you would watch that second episode by identifying what functions it served. Do these desires make sense? Are they valid? I would say yes. It makes perfect sense that you wanted to relax and recharge. At the same time, there was something problematic about acting on those desires. You chose immediate pleasure over tomorrow's state of mind. You were looking out for your present self rather than your near-future self because acting on your desires by watching the second episode was only beneficial in the short term. You got to escape what was aversive and enjoy something instead--which is not an unreasonable yearning given your hectic days. But doing so set you up for the potential to procrastinate, which you got pulled into by snoozing through your wakeup time the next morning. It also exacerbated your exhaustion and stress, and instead of more LP feelings the next morning--when you could have sipped your coffee and eased into another long day--you were scrambling out the door in an HN state. With TRAP monitoring, you notice the triggering situation (T) that led to an automatic emotional response (R). You then evaluate the consequences of how you acted (AP) in response to that triggering situation (T) and emotional response (R).

TRAP monitoring will help you notice what sets off the urge to throw your plans out the window and evaluate whether or not the decision you make in that moment is in your best interest. To illustrate how this works, I'll describe another TRAP scenario that may feel all too familiar to you. It's 6:10 p.m., and many of your colleagues have already left the office. You remember that you are signed up for a 7:15 p.m. spinning class and have 20 minutes before you need to be on the bus to get there on time. But you're feeling low energy, you're tired, and you are most comforted by the thought of curling up on the couch to watch TV. You log into the gym's webpage. You have 5 minutes to cancel your spot before you get charged as a no-show. This is your choice-point moment. Here is how you would fill out the TRAP tracking form. Do you relate to this example? Again, it's nothing monumental. It's one choice, in one moment, for one night. It's a "no big deal" event with low-intensity sadness and lethargy. Let's explore what happens when you cope a little more flexibly with the automatic and pressing urge to throw goals out the window for the night. You can do this once you learn to distinguish the action urge from the actual action pattern. You do not have to comply with your action urges--which is a crucial piece in the puzzle. Triggers elicit nearly automatic responses: your body changes and thoughts automatically swirl around in your mind. I would never want you to be tough on yourself for the immediate thoughts you have or for the immediate physical responses you have (sweaty palms or blushing, anyone?). Again, those emotional responses happen quickly.

And they tend to reflect your unique life stories, lenses through which you view the world, genetic influences, and recent emotional states. The place to insert immediate control--to the extent that any of us have control (but that's a philosophical discussion for another day)--is to choose the behavior that follows the responses. In other words, you can hit pause right before you act. Rather than automatically follow your urge, you can pause for long enough to take a step back and evaluate what is in your best interest. Sometimes acting opposite to your behavioral urge is most effective for you; sometimes acting consistently with the urge is perfectly okay. Let's return to the same triggering situation at the end of a long workday, when you want to cancel spinning class. What if everything in your tracking sheet was the same, including the action urge to go home and veg, but you inserted an alternative ending? What would it look like if you chose a different action pattern? Inserting this alternative set of behaviors in response to the same triggering situation isn't earth shattering. But look at all the adaptive micromoments that were created by not automatically acting consistently with the urge to procrastinate on the goal. By coping in ways that keep you aligned with your goals, you will be set up to feel like you are an active agent in a life of meaning and purpose. To help you accomplish this, I'm going to continue focusing on ways to break down your choice-point moments so that you hit pause before acting. The best way to break down these moments in real time is to start monitoring. I'll show you how to do this in the next section. Don't forget to feed your soul with music and the colors of nature. They have strong medicinal effects to lift your mood.15, 16 If you have a spiritual side, faith and prayer offer benefits, as do meditation, guided imagery, and yoga. Remind yourself to register the simple sensation of touch, like the warmth that emanates from a cup of tea or a simple breeze that brushes across your skin. Depression makes it hard to tackle everyday chores. Tidy up messes, or do something as easy as tend to the mail. Before you know it, you have a physical and emotional mountain of mess to climb.

Clean and clear a little at a time, or, if this is beyond the realm of your abilities, ask others to help you out. Coming home to an unruffled setting can do wonders for your mood. Empower yourself. "Self-empowerment" is defined as taking charge of your own life. With regard to depression, self-empowerment signifies that you not only manage your illness, treatment, and care, but that you also advocate and educate yourself. The manner in which you gain this empowerment is by moving through all of the above-mentioned experiences. By learning about your biology and biography, following your treatment plan, and creating a healthy environment, you don't allow anyone to minimize you or your depression. Instead of avoiding struggles, you learn from them. You trust your own instincts and abilities because they are uniquely yours. If you experience a setback, you summon learned skills and seek help from others to get back on-point. If a person's ignorance of mental illness presents itself in the form of a joke or stigma, you clear the air with your knowledge of neurobiology and psychology. All of these empowering experiences lead to the psychological state called resilience. Children and adults who are resilient are less likely to feel helpless and more likely to stretch their comfort zones. Resilience boosts problem solving as well as the capacity to deal with stress.17 Simply speaking, the combination of empowerment and resilience reduces depression and the chances of relapse. The first goal in the treatment of your depression is to get you to a response level. "Response" is clinically defined as an improvement from the initial onset of your illness.1 Think of the last time you needed an antibiotic for an infection--let's say, strep throat. You begin taking your medicine as prescribed and slowly start to feel less pain. Your body is in a response mode. Treatment for depression follows a similar course. You involve yourself in psychotherapy and/or pharmacotherapy and soon find yourself feeling better.

The example of staying on your antibiotic for the full, recommended course is the same as remaining on-task with your depression treatment--both require a pledge to see it through to completion. If you stop taking your antibiotic or miss doses because you feel better, your strep throat infection is likely to return. The same goes for the treatment of your depression. Along the same lines, this money/time dichotomy correlates to the relationship that researchers have consistently found between things and experiences. You've heard it before: Paying for experiences (vacations, spa treatments, even trips to the movies) has been found to create more long-term pleasure than buying material goods. But this truth pops up again and again in a number of different ways. In a survey by Harvard University psychology professor Dan Gilbert, 57 percent of respondents reported greater happiness from experiential purchases compared with 34 percent who gained more happiness from material objects. Beyond that, the emotional benefits you get from buying an experience are likely to exceed your expectations. In a different study, Ryan Howell of San Francisco State University asked participants to rate on a scale from one to seven whether they felt their money would be well spent on different types of purchases. Respondents expected material purchases would bring them an average satisfaction score of 4.41, while experiential purchases only earned a 2.9 rating. Two weeks after making the buy, the higher number flipped: respondents gave material purchases a 4.91 average, and experiential purchases a 5.7 average rating. To top it off, researchers from Cornell University and the University of Colorado Boulder found in a pair of surveys and a follow-up laboratory experiment that people get more pleasure in anticipating experiences than they do looking forward to making a material purchase. The researchers determined this was the case because experiences are more open to positive reinterpretations, are more closely related to a person's identity, and contribute more to social relationships (you're going to tell people about your upcoming vacation more than your upcoming furniture purchase). So before, during, and after purchase, experiences beat things. Instead of buying a new pair of shoes, spend that money on a staycation. Speaking of vacations, one of the worst feelings in the world is having taken off a few days from work, only to come back feeling like the relaxation didn't really stick. It may be that the vacation you took wasn't long enough--or it may have been too long. A group of workers answered a questionnaire about health and well-being prior to and during vacations that averaged 23 days each (yes, these were European workers). found that feelings of health and well-being increased right away during vacation, then peaked on the eighth day, where they remained until the eleventh day, after which enjoyment levels faded out. From this, the researchers suggest that eight days is about how long it takes to let go of concerns about work responsibilities and stress--but before feelings of homesickness or restlessness set in.