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But trying to control everything is impossible; the difficult is preferable to the impossible. Wait a minute, though. Peace and happiness! Isn't that what civilization is all about? We build skyscrapers and freeways. We have paid vacations, TV sets; we provide free hospitals and sick leaves, Social Security and welfare benefits. All of that is aimed at providing some measure of peace and happiness. Yet the rate of mental illness climbs steadily, and the crime rates rise faster. The streets are crawling with aggressive and unstable individuals. Stick your arms outside the safety of your own door, and somebody is very likely to steal your watch! Something is not working. A happy person does not steal. One who is at peace with him- or herself does not feel driven to kill. We like to think that our society is employing every area of human knowledge in order to achieve peace and happiness, but this is not true. At The Center: A Place of Hope, we believe that if a person reports a chronic combination of these symptoms lasting sixty to ninety days--far beyond what's expected in cases of the ordinary blues we all experience from time to time--then he or she is in need of coordinated care for major depression.[5] Our admissions specialists assess the severity of depression in those seeking help using three criteria: hopelessness, helplessness, and despair. Once a person's experience can be characterized by words as bleak as these, they have long lost the ability to "snap out of it." That so many people do reach this point in their lives makes depression a human tragedy of stunning proportions. Now that we've established the magnitude of the problem, let's agree on a vastly more important fact: it doesn't have to be this way. Healing is possible, now and for good. So why do we continue to fall so short? Why do even the lucky ones with access to care so often come away disappointed?

While the answers to these questions are far from simple, they don't take an advanced degree in medicine to understand. There is a certain lack of common sense at the root of the problem. Once you've seen that fact, there in plain sight, the mud starts to settle and the view becomes clearer. Here's one way to get your head around it. Imagine you take your car to the shop. It's hard to describe to the mechanic exactly what seems to be going wrong. The best you can do is to say, "It's just not right." The engine doesn't fire right up in the morning the way it used to. There's no pep anymore when you hit the accelerator. The steering is sluggish and unresponsive, and the tires inexplicably lose air no matter how often you refill them. The heater is stuck at lukewarm, and all the radio speakers sound muffled, ruining your favorite music. You used to love this car. Now it's no fun to drive at all. As you conclude your list of the car's "symptoms," the mechanic nods sagely and assures you he knows just what's causing the trouble. "You need a tune-up!" he says, with great confidence. You are not the expert, so you take his word for it. "Come back tomorrow, and everything will be back to normal." You can see where this story is headed. The next day after the repair work, you start the engine to head home and discover that nothing has changed. In fact, you feel worse about things, because now you're out the cost of a tune-up and the time spent waiting for the work to be done. You turn around and tell the mechanic to try again. And so, day after day, the list of ineffective repairs grows longer and longer, and you feel further and further away from your goal.

Discouragement sets in, and you're about to give up on the prospect of ever driving a functional car again. The problem is easy to see in this made-up example: the mechanic is assuming the car's troubles are caused by just one thing. Instead of looking at the vehicle's systems as an integrated, interdependent whole, he has been trained to see it only as a collection of separate parts. Repair, in his view, is about fixing the broken piece, period. No need to look in the trunk for problems he's sure are under the hood. Not only that, the mechanic sees your car only in light of all the others he's worked on lately. Last week, a Chevrolet came in with some of the same troubles and, lo and behold, the tune-up worked! Suddenly, to him, all cars that have lost their pep fall into the same category and require the same treatment. Now, please don't think I'm disrespecting mechanics or the caregivers they represent in this little fable. Nearly everything they are trained to do is effective under the right circumstances. Sometimes a tune-up is exactly what's called for. But if it becomes a one-size-fits-all solution to every malfunction--no matter how complex or multifaceted its causes and no matter the differences between individual automobiles--that's an approach sure to lead to as many failures as successes. Maybe even more. Sometimes we all forget the wisdom contained in the line, 'If you don't ask, you don't get.' Confident and successful people go for what they want and seek to get what they think they deserve. Whether it's a date or a pay rise, the worst that can happen is that you get a 'no', but until you ask the question, you'll never truly know the answer. Instead of assuming, go and find out! Your chances of success in any undertaking can always be measured by your belief in yourself. When speaking in public or to colleagues at work, your voice is a key communicator of confidence - or lack of it. If you're nervous, your voice can sound squeaky and high-pitched and you might talk very quickly, which signals insecurity to those listening. Instead, cultivate a deeper, calmer, slower speaking voice.

Breathe in deeply and breathe out from your stomach. This will help your voice to vibrate and resonate. Also, try to imagine your voice to be warm and 'chocolatey', flowing smoothly from your lips. This rich and unrushed manner will put your audience immediately at ease, allowing you to win them over with your tone of voice as well as your line of argument. When you're lacking confidence, it can seem like an easier option to bow to the wishes of others and say 'yes' to everything, even if you're not actually happy with the situation. Though it seems like the simplest option, doing this in fact negatively affects your confidence, as you are essentially telling yourself that the wishes of others are more important than your own. Being assertive doesn't have to mean being aggressive. The main thing is that you realise your own needs are as important as everybody else's. Consider this simple scenario: your boss asks you to take on a new project when you are already overworked and you know that you will not be able to finish it to the necessary standard. Instead of taking it on because you think it's the correct thing to do, explain the situation to your boss so that a solution can be found. The likelihood is that, at the very least, they will appreciate your honesty. Vividly imagine what your life would be like if you were fully confident right now. How would your posture be? How would your voice sound? What would you say to yourself? Once you have a clear image, imagine you are this person. Step into their shoes and see the world through their eyes - feel what they feel. If you do this enough you'll forget that you're only acting, and feeling confident will become normal and natural for you. Aerodynamically the bumblebee shouldn't be able to fly, but the bumblebee doesn't know so it goes on flying anyway. People who make strong eye contact are seen as being more trustworthy and positive.

However, connecting with someone's gaze can feel uncomfortable if you are shy or feeling nervous. In that case, try fixing your gaze between the other person's eyes. They won't be able to tell you're not looking them directly in the eyes and you'll give the impression of being self-assured. Just make sure to avert your gaze briefly every so often to avoid giving them an intimidating stare! Confidence comes with maturity being more accepting of yourself. Before any high-pressure event, like an exam or a presentation, your confidence can dip and nerves can get the better of you if you dwell on what you are lacking in that moment. But at this point, there's nothing more to be done, so it does you no good to agonise over it. Instead, focus your thoughts on what you have prepared and on what you do know, rather than all the things you don't. Do the best with what you have. Technology is not the root cause of distraction at work. The problem goes much deeper. Leslie Perlow, a consultant turned professor at Harvard Business School, led an extensive four-year study that she documented in her book Sleeping with Your Smartphone. In the book, she writes of managers at the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), a leading strategy consulting firm, who perpetuated the high expectations and low-control work culture associated with mental illness. For example, Perlow describes a project led by two partners at the firm with opposing work styles. One of them was an early riser, while the other was a night owl. Like parents embroiled in a nasty divorce, the two were rarely in the same room and would communicate through their team. A consultant on the team recalls, The more junior partner was continually asking us to expand and add things, so we would end up with forty- to sixty-page slide decks for the weekly meetings. The senior partner would wonder why we were all in the red zone [working more than sixty-five hours per week] . One partner was up late and would send us changes at 11 pm, the other was up early sending emails at 6 am . We were getting it on both ends.