They were told that the work that year would be challenging and the pace would be rapid, in keeping with their special gifts. Across the hall, by contrast, the Yellow Birds were told that they would have to work extra hard to keep up with their assignments; that they were going to face many challenges; and that the school year was likely to be a struggle for many of them, but that their teacher was going to try her hardest to help each one of them. The message to the Yellow Birds was basically, "You're marginally bright, and your achievements in life are going to be marginal, at best." Every other aspect of their experience was identical. All of the students, regardless of their group assignment, received exactly the same assignments, followed the same schedule, and took the same tests. Be here now. Examine the task you are doing. How can you make it more interesting? Pay attention to some aspect of it that you never noticed before. Try doing something differently. Fine-tune your actions. I always suggest that you write a list of your expectations for that activity. Establish concrete goals; this step will help keep you focused and invested. Do something with other people, but make sure they are positive, because positivity is contagious. Surrounding yourself with encouraging people will infuse new zeal into your interests, activities, and quests. There are so many of these wonderful spirits out there in life---far too many to list. You have to seek out inspiration and things that stir your soul. Be open-minded and prepared to learn from others. It doesn't matter if it's at work, home, or school; you have to be receptive to individuals and groups that can support and augment your passion. You can learn so much from Will, the singer at the gas station. Live without fear, smile like the whole world is watching, and sing like there is no one watching!

In sum, simply paying attention and finding new ways to do a task will reenergize any activity. Get lost in your work and have fun. Most important, don't forget that people have the ability to inspire you. They can plant a seed of passion help it grow. Passion is contagious (Moore). Fun is looking for the variability in something other people don't notice. It's breaking through the boredom and monotony to discover its hidden beauty. The great thinkers and tinkerers of history made their discoveries because they were obsessed with the intoxicating draw of discovery--the mystery that pulls us in because we want to know more. But remember: finding novelty is only possible when we give ourselves the time to focus intently on a task and look hard for the variability. Whether it's uncertainty about our ability to do a task better or faster than last time or coming back to challenge the unknown day after day, the quest to solve these mysteries is what turns the discomfort we seek to escape with distraction into an activity we embrace. The last step in managing the internal triggers that can lead to distraction is to reimagine our capabilities. We'll start by shattering a common self-defeating belief many of us tell ourselves daily. Several research studies have shown an association between particular eating patterns and mental health. For example, a "western diet" high in saturated fats and processed, fried, and sugary foods was found to be associated with a high rate of depression. In contrast, a diet high in fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, fish, whole grains, and olive oil, also known as the Mediterranean diet, was associated with a lower rate of depression. It is not known whether a poor-quality diet is a result of the appetite changes and inertia that accompany depression or whether it causes those symptoms--perhaps both are true. Other studies have shown the significance of the supplements folate, vitamin B12, and omega-3 fatty acids in the diet, but this is a complex discussion that I will not go into here. Talk with your doctor about whether you need to take any of these as dietary supplements for your depression. A healthy eating pattern is valuable for additional reasons. Improving your brain's nutritional status may increase the effectiveness of antidepressant medications.

Depression, lack of activity, sleep problems, and many medications prescribed for mood disorders have the potential to increase body weight. Symptoms of depression include loss of appetite and weight loss in some people, while others may have increased appetite, carbohydrate cravings, and weight gain. Weight gain following antidepressant therapy may be an indication of recovery in those who had weight loss as a symptom, or it may be related to taking the medication. Weight gain is a relatively common problem during acute or long-term treatment with antidepressants and is a significant reason people stop taking their medications. Be mindful of this possibility, particularly if you are on medication for the long term. Significant weight gain related to taking antidepressant medications can affect your overall health and cause physical and emotional discomfort and distress. Many people feel worse about themselves, having low self-esteem and low confidence, when they gain substantial weight. Healthy eating may prevent or reduce the likelihood of becoming overweight or obese while on these medications. Those already overweight will have to control their total caloric intake to manage their body weight. This is only part of the picture. Controlling your weight also means increasing physical activity (exercise) and decreasing the amount of time spent sitting around. This is not easy to do, but you can take steps to make it less difficult, as I discuss in the Physical Exercise section of this chapter. Remember that different antidepressant medications all have different effects on your metabolism, so you should remain open to trying more than one drug (if necessary) until you find one that you tolerate well. Thankfully, this kind of project would probably die today while still in the proposal stage: These days, you cannot and should not get approval for a psychological study that poses a risk of harm to the participants. Sure enough, although the artificial division of this class lasted only four months, the consequences were profound and went on for years. The Yellow Birds did, in fact, struggle and showed serious frustration and self-recrimination associated with their difficulties. Unfortunately, the troubles did not end when the label was removed. When the researchers again looked at these children ten years later, the kids who had been Yellow Birds had consistently earned significantly poorer grades, were much less successful in activities like sports and music, were more likely to have been in trouble with the law, and scored significantly lower on intelligence tests than did the Bluebirds. The Bluebirds were appreciably better performers on every single dimension measured. I want to be sure you get the gravity of what I'm saying here.

These children, alike in every way, had hugely different outcomes in life, outcomes that were driven by nothing more than a label! Bottom line: Both groups of schoolchildren lived to the labels that had been placed upon them, early on. They didn't know it, they couldn't tell you that the label had changed their self-concept or that they were requiring less of themselves because of it, but it happened and it happened in a devastating way. Labels are incredibly powerful influences in your life and I'm betting you may not be consciously aware of even a fraction of your labels, or the power of those labels, whether they come from the outside world or from within yourself. Your labels are so important because they are at the core of your fictional self. They are one of the ways in which the world has attacked your authenticity and messaged you on what is expected of you if you are to be a good "sheep." Maybe your most self-changing and limiting labels came from your parents, maybe they came from a cruel peer group or from teachers or coaches. Maybe they came from within you when you observed yourself messing up in life. Either way, whatever the source, you must acknowledge the existence of the labels, challenge the "fit," and confront the impact these labels have had on your concept of self. You cannot ignore these powerful influences if you are ever to get back to your authentic self. Labels are so powerful because they are prone to be internalized and accepted. If you accept these labels as the definition of you, you are changed at your most core level. Once you accept the label as valid, you replace your definition of who you really are with who the label tells you you are. Both motivation and passion play a valuable role in helping expectations come to fruition, although they are fundamentally different, as we discussed. Motivation is important because it is a way of jump-starting you and keeping you moving toward your goals. Therefore, it's important to stop and think about this piece of the puzzle. How exactly does motivation fuel you to make expectations a reality? We seek to increase our level of stimulation. It's at the opposite end of the spectrum than homeostasis. We seek the natural high, the rush of endorphins, after pushing ourselves physically and mentally. Whitbourne, however, reminds us, "Too much arousal can thwart our ability to achieve our goals." She encourages us to think of Goldilocks and the three bears.

Each individual has his or her "own ideal level between an arousal that is too low and arousal that is too intense." In other words, we each have an optimal level of arousal (Whitbourne). Intrinsic cognitive theory drives us to fulfill our inner potential and interests, and it comes from within. The desired outcome is to meet one's "true self" in one's behavior. No matter what theory of motivation to which you happen to subscribe, expectations propel you forward and inspire your efforts. Further, all of them agree that achieving your expectations leads to feelings of happiness and personal fulfillment. It's important to note that your motivations are fluid depending on your physical, financial, and emotional states in life. Think of Maslow's pyramid of needs. You need to meet physiological needs (food, water, excretion, and so on) before you can move on to attain high-order needs. Therefore, at the most fundamental level, you are driven by basic physical needs. After all, if you are not able to find food, then your motivations are clear and simple. Likewise, if you cannot satisfy second level requirements (safety, security, etc.), then how can you be motivated to fulfill your needs for creativity? It is similar to passion and goes back to the importance of your surroundings. If you are not in a safe environment, it's difficult to become motivated (Maslow). To manage the discomfort that tugs us toward distraction, we need to think of ourselves differently. The way we perceive our temperament, which is defined as "a person's or animal's nature, especially as it permanently affects their behavior," has a profound impact on how we behave. One of the most pervasive bits of folk psychology is the belief that self-control is limited--that, by the nature of our temperament, we only have so much willpower available to us. Furthermore, the thinking goes, we are liable to run out of willpower when we exert ourselves. Psychologists have a name for this phenomenon: ego depletion. What might explain the ego depletion phenomenon? The results of early studies may have been authentic, but it appears the researchers jumped to the wrong conclusions.