Pay attention to life, and maybe you'll discover and draw inspiration from your childhood experiences. Sometimes it also helps to develop these passions by diving into uncommitted ventures. By uncommitted, I mean activities in a nonprofessional sense. Perhaps you can volunteer or join an organization that will help you nourish and foster your particular enthusiasms. For example, if you like photography, have always wanted to learn an instrument, or have a hobby you'd like to pursue, then consider an adult education course or local club that will help you further your interests. Do what your heart tells you to do. And whatever you do, dive into it wholeheartedly and without hesitation. We've all heard Mary Poppins's advice to add "a spoonful of sugar" to turn a job into a game, yes? Well, Bogost believes Poppins was wrong. He claims her approach "recommends covering over drudgery." As he writes, "We fail to have fun because we don't take things seriously enough, not because we take them so seriously that we'd have to cut their bitter taste with sugar. Fun is not a feeling so much as an exhaust produced when an operator can treat something with dignity." Countless commercially produced distractions, like television or social media, use slot machine-like variable rewards to keep us engaged with a constant stream of newness. But Bogost points out that we can use the same techniques to make any task more pleasurable and compelling. We can use the same neural hardwiring that keeps us hooked to media to keep us engaged in an otherwise unpleasant task. Knowledge is power. Positive internal dialogue allows you to know your history, yet move beyond it. It allows you to "rise above your raising." I think about my dad. As I've said, he was the first person on either side, my mother's family or his, ever to go to college. He rose above his raising. I'd be willing to bet that his internal dialogue, day after day, went something like this: Poor and uneducated is our pattern; that's who we are. Well, I'm rising above that.

I'm fighting my way up off of this rung of the ladder. I'm fighting my way out of here. Positive internal dialogue is what propels the Olympic athlete to a new personal best. It's as if the energy generated by all of that affirming self-talk is what carries him or her to another level of achievement. Afterward, the athlete can recall only that he or she was totally engrossed in the moment. Positive internal dialogue is what Oprah factually took with her as the legacy of her experience in the third grade. Time after time, the message was the same: "If you do your best you will succeed and be valued." In my own case, it's the real-world, tested message of self-worth that I claimed with pride after being kicked out of school for defending myself and my friends. Positive internal dialogue is wholly consistent with your authentic self and says, I don't have to earn my right to be here. The quality that I have as a unique human being gives me the right to be here. Don't forget that your surroundings play a huge role in helping you discover and develop your passions. Let's face it: certain places are more conducive to creativity and inspiration than others. Perhaps you want to be a writer. Chances are you'll want a calm environment where you can reflect and gather your thoughts. In most cases you'd be a lot better off going to a quiet coffee shop rather than a loud bar, assuming you want to get some writing done. Of course, everyone is different. Pay special attention to your needs, and it will be much easier to nourish your passion. Sometimes, even when you take the measures I've listed in bullet points, passion will still elude you. It is okay to explore. Try new things without fear! The saying "Never a failure, always a lesson" is something to take to heart.

With this, your motivation and expectations do not plummet. Go in expecting to learn something new, and you'll come out more confident, even if you had to go outside of your comfort zone. Another way to discover your passion is to pay attention to the here and now. Look around and be observant. It's all too easy to take life for granted. You get into a routine, or you have pressing responsibilities at work, at school, and at home. But it's important to be on the lookout for the beauty that surrounds you on a daily basis. As Lao Tzu says, "If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present." While learning how to have fun cutting grass may seem like a stretch, people find fun in a wide range of activities that you might not find particularly interesting. Consider my local coffee-obsessed barista who spends a ridiculous amount of time refining the perfect brew, the car buff who toils for countless hours fine-tuning his ride, or the crafter who painstakingly produces intricate sweaters and quilts for everyone she knows. If people can have fun doing these activities by choice, what's so crazy about bringing the same kind of mind-set to other tasks? For me, I learned to stay focused on the tedious work of writing books by finding the mystery in my work. I write to answer interesting questions and discover novel solutions to old problems. To use a popular aphorism, "The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity." Today, I write for the fun of it. Of course, it's also my profession, but by finding the fun I'm able to do my work without getting as distracted as I once did. Sleep Hygiene refers to the personal habits and environmental (home) conditions that affect your sleep. Good sleep habits can help improve your sleep, which in turn will help improve your mood. So it is important to maintain good sleep habits and a consistent sleeping and waking pattern in a bedroom environment that favors sound sleep.

Sleep Hygiene recommendations, adapted from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, are listed below. One of the essential steps in managing your mood disorder is to follow these recommendations as best as you can. Speak with your doctor if you are still having sleep problems after following these suggestions. What is enough sleep? The amount of sleep required by a person depends in part on age. It varies from infancy, through childhood, to older age. The average amount of sleep required by healthy adults is 7 to 8 hours per night. "Enough sleep" is the amount that makes you feel physically and mentally rested, sharp, not irritable, and able to concentrate, focus, and correctly do small motor tasks. You have probably heard that it is important to eat a nutritious and varied diet to keep your body and vital organs working properly. Did you know that this is also true for your brain? Food is the fuel that keeps your body and your brain functioning optimally. Eating well-balanced healthy meals is one way of taking care of yourself that you have control over. It can make a positive difference in your mental health. When you stray from a healthy, regular diet you become vulnerable to mood changes. You may become irritable and fatigued, and your brain may not function very well. The beliefs we hold are closely tied to the decisions we make. In effect, what we believe affects what we decide. My good friend Chris thinks that he can beat the stock market. He believes that, if he puts enough time into learning the ins and outs of the market, he'll earn substantially more on his stock picks than what the average market return will give him. He once told me that a friend of his bought a couple of stocks and later sold them for a profit of over $30,000.

Chris reasoned that he could do the same. He even went so far as to talk about paying off his mortgage from his stock proceeds. When I asked about the other stocks his friend bought, Chris was a little more evasive. When pressed, he said that some were losers, but he continued to focus on the winners. A wealth of research demonstrates that it's better to put your money in a general index fund, like the Standard & Poor's 500, rather than bet on just a few stock picks. Still, people want to believe that they can beat the market. Chris's belief led him to invest a significant amount of cash in a few select stocks, which caused him to lose over $20,000 in a period when the overall market rose by about 25 percent. Erroneously held beliefs can be dangerous to your wealth! We humans are amazing creatures. We have the capacity to think creatively and solve complex problems. We've made technological advances that have made our lives easier and more enjoyable. We've built machines that allow us to explore the outer reaches of space and the depths of the oceans. We've made medical advancements that have significantly extended our life spans. We've built sophisticated civilizations. And yet, despite all we have achieved, we still fall prey to flawed thinking. Many years ago, a team of psychologists launched a research project using grade school students as subjects. The researchers were looking at how the social environment, and specifically the treatment one receives from those perceived as powerful and relevant, affects a person's self-concept. At the beginning of the school year, the researchers separated a class of sixth graders into two groups. The selection process was carefully randomized so that the two groups of kids would be virtually identical in terms of average intelligence, ability, maturity level, background, and so on. The researchers then told one group that they were the Bluebirds, exceptional children who had been identified as having unusually high ability.