Keep striving. In a lot of cases, the ride to the life you want sucks and it's ugly, but if you don't worry about it and just hold on, you'll make it there. It makes perfect sense that schools use behavior and habit tracking sheets as a learning tool for kids. If the kids listen, follow directions, are polite, and don't get in trouble, they get a cool little sticker or happy face on their chart that gives them a sense of pride and accomplishment. The sticker, smiley face, and the teacher's good job! ;) comment reinforce good behavior and make it more likely that they'll keep it up. It also makes a lot of sense that if the child isn't up to par on their behavior and habits that day, the teacher provides feedback and educates the child on what they can work on and why it's important. When someone falls into depression, it's not surprising to hear them say they feel as though they lost whatever self-esteem they had, and the same holds true for procrastinators. Tasks that seemed practically impossible to complete due to habitual procrastination seem even less likely to be accomplished after depression has set in. Since procrastination means not dealing with one's tasks, most especially, to the point of completion, if the sufferer has procrastinated habitually for long enough, he isn't likely to have a long list of recent accomplishments. It isn't difficult to imagine that anyone caught in that situation might then struggle with low self-esteem. Luckily, if someone has stumbled in this sense, it doesn't mean they can't pick themselves back up. Clearly, a course of action is the action to take; however, it must be done gradually, because people who have suffered with loss of self-esteem can very easily become overwhelmed. Remember too, that small accomplishments can add up quickly into greater amounts of self-esteem. In my own case, if I have no dirty dishes in my kitchen sink, worn clothes aren't draped over my furniture, and I know my checking account balance--for a person like myself, that state is quite an accomplishment, and achieving it always bolsters my self-esteem. Over the past six decades, medical researchers have developed a wide range of different medications for the treatment of conditions such as depression. While a full description of these different drugs would run into thousands of pages, they usually fall into three specific categories: Tricyclic antidepressants. Among the earliest antidepressant medications to be developed, tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs for short) have largely been replaced by more modern medications due to their frequent side effects, though they can still be used to treat depression symptoms in acute cases. Including such drugs as imipramine, amitriptyline, desipramine, and nortriptyline, TCAs work by directly acting on neurotransmitters such as serotonin and norepinephrine to increase their levels in the brain. Unfortunately, TCAs are also well known for side effects such as dry mouth; constipation; blurred vision; and, in many cases, sexual problems, excessive sweating, tremors, and weight changes.

More rarely, it can also lead to seizures, disorientation (especially in older adults), and changes in heart rate. There is also the risk of drug interactions, which can lead to excessively high serotonin levels in the brain resulting in a "serotonin syndrome" with symptoms such as rapid heart rate, agitation, lack of coordination, and excessive sweating. MAO inhibitors. First developed in the 1950s, monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) act on the brain by inhibiting the monoamine oxidase enzyme, which breaks down serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine to make them inactive. By inhibiting this enzyme's activity, MAOIs allow these neurotransmitters to stay much longer in the brain than they normally would. Because they also affect dopamine levels in the brain, MAOIs can also be used to treat Parkinson's disease. Popular MAOIs include isocarboxazid, phenelzine, selegiline, and tranylcypromine. These drugs are also known to cause many of the same side effects seen in TCAs along with insomnia and headaches and can also lead to serotonin syndrome depending on drug interactions. People taking MAOIs also need to follow dietary restrictions and avoid foods high in tyramine, which can affect blood pressure, as well as avoid alcohol. Due to these potential complications, MAOIs are not commonly used today, as safer alternatives are now available. However, this should all be taken with a pinch of salt, because what matters is whether people are with others. People seldom smile when they are by themselves; this is something that's common across the countries I've visited. There is a strong link between whether people walk alone or with other people and how often people smile. In cities like New York, Seoul and Riga, people usually walk by themselves in the daytime. Fewer than one in five is with someone else - and the smile ratio in these countries is among the lowest in the world. At the other end of the spectrum are smiling cities like Malaga and Milan, where people are more often with others. Therefore, it also matters where in the city you measure smiles. You will get a higher frequency of smiles in Regent's Park where friends and family stroll together than on the busy Strand in central London. Culture also comes into play. In some countries, smiling people may be perceived as kinder, friendlier and more attractive, while in others smiling is associated with lower levels of intelligence.

What doesn't make sense, however, is why this behavior and habit tracking system, instead of getting more sophisticated as the child moves up through grade levels and gets older, fades out and becomes rendered useless. Getting older doesn't make the system obsolete. We still feel pride and accomplishment when we know we're on the right track. Even as adults, it's still useful to track the consistency of our good habits and behaviors. It's useful to see the patterns and where we can improve. When I found this practice to be extremely helpful and useful in getting my act together, I created a Personal Behavior and Habit Tracking Sheet. Along the side, I listed each good behavior and habit I wanted to work on and improve and along the top, I listed each day of the week. Next to each behavior, each day either had a green or a red dot. I started off with mostly red and each week after that, each sheet became more and more green until, eventually, it was 99% green all of the time. Seeing so much red woke me up to the reality that I had a lot of work to do and as the sheets got greener and greener each week, I felt a deeper and deeper sense of accomplishment and being on track. It's for this reason that we must keep in mind that for us, our primary goal is not to accomplish our tasks, but to raise our self-esteem. To do that, you needn't concern yourself over how much or how many accomplishments are necessary, because all it takes is the accomplishment of just one task in order to begin feeling better about yourself. If there's one question that I'd never like to hear again, it has to be, "Aren't you being a little hard on yourself?" I've heard that from more people than I'd care to remember, and it's caused me a good deal of bewilderment and frustration when I couldn't understand why other people were so concerned about me being tough on myself. After all, wasn't "being hard on myself" a sign of my determination and positive attitude? Well, they were signs, just not productive ones. And that's part of the problem that we face, because we sometimes do things that we think are productive, yet, despite our best efforts, precious little gets accomplished. Many habitual procrastinators have a "mental radio" playing an almost constant stream of negative self-statements with which they berate themselves for not "do"-ing. Through the use of harsh or inappropriate self-statements, this negative internal dialogue not only pushes us too far, but in the wrong ways too. We do this because we fall into the trap of putting unrealistic expectations upon ourselves; and while our internal dialogues may sound sensible to ourselves while we're listening to them, they're mostly unachievable for a variety of reasons. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors.

More commonly referred to as SSRIs, these are the most commonly prescribed antidepressant medications used today. By selectively acting on serotonin receptor sites while only weakly affecting dopamine and norepinephrine receptors, SSRIs can significantly boost serotonin levels in the brain. As a result, they can relieve the symptoms of severe depression with far fewer side effects than other kinds of medication. Along with depression, SSRIs have been used in treating other conditions such as anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorders. Some of the most well-known SSRIs are citalopram, fluoxetine, escitalopram, sertraline, and vilazodone, though others have already been approved by government regulators for treating depression and other disorders. Side effects still occur, though they are usually temporary. They include drowsiness; blurred vision; headaches; insomnia; and diarrhea and, more rarely, serotonin syndrome, if used in combination with some other medications. There are other types of antidepressant medications available including atypical antipsychotics (mostly used with bipolar disorder), norepinephrine-dopamine reuptake inhibitors, and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, to name some of the most common alternatives. The kind of medication that someone with depression will receive often depends on the nature of the symptoms, whether there are other medical issues that might affect how the drug works, and the training that the prescribing doctor has received. As for the actual risks associated with these different medications, we will explore that further in the next section. A team of researchers led by Kuba Krys, a psychologist at the Polish Academy of Sciences, has gained some insight into cultural differences in the perception of smiling individuals. The researchers asked 4,519 participants from 44 different cultures to rate photos of smiling and unsmiling individuals on how honest and intelligent they thought these individuals were. Countries to the left of the first line consider smiling people to be significantly less intelligent than non-smiling individuals; countries to the right of the second line rate people who smile as significantly more intelligent. The researchers found that in countries like Germany, Switzerland and Malaysia, smiling people were perceived as significantly more intelligent than people who didn't smile, while in countries like Japan, South Korea and Russia, people who smiled were perceived as less intelligent. In fact, I've been told there is a Russian proverb that translates as `Laughing for no reason is a sign of stupidity.' How often do people smile on the streets? Ben Franklin said, Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise. Eric Thomas says, I studied the top millionaires in the world and I discovered that they all wake up at 3-3:30 in the morning. Dozens and dozens of studies continue to show early risers perform better. They're happier, clearer, sharper, more relaxed, mentally tougher, more optimistic, more productive, more consistent, less distracted, better prepared, make better decisions, get better grades, outperform everyone around them, and they sleep better. The good decision of getting out of bed when you're supposed to sets the tone for the rest of the day because when you start off with a good decision, you're likely to make good decisions for the rest of the day.

When you start your day off with the lazy, poor, and sloppy decision of hitting the snooze button and going back to sleep, you're likely to make the same kind of decisions for the rest of the day. Again, your decisions, inevitably, add up to you having your act together and having a great life or not having your act together and having a life riddled with problems. Jocko Willink says, While you are resting, you are getting no closer to your target. When you get to the bottom of it, getting up late is, simply, a waste of time. If we're sleeping an extra 2 hours each day of the week, that's 14 hours of productivity lost. Each month, 56 hours. Each year, 672 hours. In 5 years, 3,360 hours. If we're sleeping an extra 2 hours per day, each year, we're losing 16.8 weeks' worth of productivity! And we say, I don't have the time to get things done. We do have the time! But we're deciding to waste it. If you're too tired when your alarm goes off, reschedule your bed time so you can get more rest. Our friend Ted has a similar problem with household cleaning. During the workweek he tells himself, "For once and for all, this weekend I'm going to whip my apartment into shape!" When Ted tells himself that, it only follows in his mind that it must "do"-able, otherwise, why would he think it? Was Ted's self-statement true, or could it actually be a bit deceptive; being more complicated than he would otherwise have hoped? In addition, if his self-statement was inaccurate, could that also pose a barrier and prevent him from taking action? Remember: Our self-statements are the instructions that we give ourselves. Let's examine Ted's self-statement by breaking it down into its components to see if it provides him with good instructions: The Components of Ted's Self-Statement: "For Once And For All, This Weekend I'm Going To Whip My Apartment Into Shape! What Is Needed Dusting.