A cure for the Blue Monday blues

Last July, I listened to and wrote a post about a humorous and helpful presentation on happiness by Dr. Srikumar Rao, a professor at Columbia University. Rao is a well-regarded speaker and the author of “Happiness at Work: Be Resilient, Motivated, and Successful – No Matter What” among other books, but what really impressed me is Rao exudes happiness.

I thought today, “Blue Monday 2011”, might be a good day to update and share that post again. 

In Rao’s presentation, he explains that most of us are using the:

 If . . . then” model, which means we are constantly telling ourselves, if this happens then I will be happy. 

If I  . . . 

  • pay my bills,
  • lose weight,
  • fly to a warmer climate,
  • move to  a warmer climate,
  • start running,
  • stop smoking,
  • start budgeting,
  • find a job,
  • quit my job,
  • get married,
  • buy a house
  • have kids,
  • get divorced,
  • start over,
  • etc.

. . . then I will be happy.

Life can be a never-ending series of “ifs” – if we let it – and could then turn out to be a never-ending series of delays and disappointments – if we let it.

Rao suggests that instead of putting all our eggs in the outcome basket, we put them in the process basket. Meaning, we set goals, but don’t delay gratification, appreciation and happiness until, or if they are reached.

Plan ahead, but seize the day – and fill it with happiness. I like that. 

Okay, it’s time to cure your Blue Monday blues. Start with this happy little guy, and then watch Rao’s 17 minute talk

If you are in a hurry, listening to the first 9 minutes of his talk will improve your outlook (it starts a little slow – hang in there – at 7 minutes he shares a memorable example that will make you LOL and can be a great help in the future). 

Listening to the last 8 minutes could change your life, if you let it.

Warning, Warning

Guess what lies ahead . . . I wish I had some scary movie music to play right here . . . doo, doo, doo, doo . . . 

Blue Monday is just around the corner!

What’s Blue Monday? 

Only the most depressing day of the year! Yes, Monday, January 24, 2011 is predicted to be the most depressing day of the year, i.e. Blue Monday.


Well, Dr. Cliff Arnall a former tutor at the Center for Lifelong Learning of Cardiff University in Wales says it because of the following six factors:

  1. Weather conditions. (Less sun and lots of cold and snowy weather blanketing the Earth this time of year.)
  2. Debt level and our ability to pay that debt. (Ouch, all those holiday shopping bills coming due.)
  3. Time elapsed since the excitement of Christmas. (Even taking in to account that many folks do not celebrate Christmas or celebrate it in January, the holiday build-up and hoopla in December raises everyone’s adrenalin a bit.)
  4. Realization that we already may be letting our New Years resolutions slide. (Not those of us who are OTATing, of course.)
  5. Our general seasonal motivational levels. (Winter malaise setting in, all that holiday food still hugging our waist lines.)
  6. And, our overall need to take action and to have something to look forward to. (Not too many holidays in our immediate futures.)
  7. It’s a Monday! (I added that one.)

Well, there you have it.  Bad day ahead.

Actually, there is no scientific proof January 24 will be the most depressing day of the year, the entire concept was a publicity stunt by a travel company, which grew into a popularly held belief.

That said – from personal holiday experience, the general logic of Arnall’s factors, and having lived in the suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio for 36 years – the end of January can be a pretty depressing time of year. But feel free to ignore this warning, or to apply the following tips to any day you find particularly bothersome.

Here are two simple Blue Monday antidotes:

  1. Wallow
  2. Reach out


  • Revel in it. Maybe even take the day off. Really let yourself sink into the day. Enjoy a day of self-imposed misery, a mental health day of sorts. 
  • Plan to stay in bed all day with your favorite and forbidden foods nearby and remote, Kindle, Nook, book or iPad in hand.
  • Pick your favorite victim-of-choice attitude, then give yourself full permission to wallow in it. (Please note: no whining – it can spread this thing.)

My guess is, after you give yourself permission, make all the arrangements, and begin wallowing – you will feel better and end-up having a pretty good day.


Plan to do as many nice things for others as you possibly can.  Plan to PIF-off the day by setting do-gooder goals – this Blue Monday site has formalized the process for you – or plan to be on alert throughout the day for ways to make other people happier. You can:

  • Make the coffee;
  • drive the kids:
  • smile;
  • pay somebody’s toll;
  • let the guy cut in;
  • give up the parking space;
  • hold the door; 
  • cut everyone lots of slack;
  • post a sign at your desk saying Blue Monday – Beware! Then share the antidotes;
  • invite someone to take a walk or to lunch;
  • call someone you’ve meant to;
  • and last but not least, find somebody to hug!

Go ahead, try it and see what happens. 

Well, that’s it. My work is done. You’ve been warned; you’ve got a plan, and since you’re prepared, Blue Monday might turn out to be a fantastic day. Talk to you then.

Oh, if you have any surefire cures for a bad day, please share them, we can all use a little help from our friends.

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