FAQ: Potential Now List Problem #2 – “My {insert Now List activity} was a complete failure!”

floatation tank

So your recent Now List activity didn’t go as planned eh? I’m sorry to hear that. What happened? Really? How awful. Allow me to share with you a similar story.

Shortly after releasing the book I decided to start blogging about some of the items that I’d added to my Now List and succeeded in ticking off. One such item was this:

Try a Flotation Tank experience

A ‘flotation tank’ (for those of you who are new to the concept) is a large bath filled with warm salt water and a sound proofed lid. Once the lid’s closed the lights go off leaving you floating in the dark, and the silence. The fact that most of your senses are deprived (you can’t see anything, hear anything etc) allegedly allows your mind to enter a deeply relaxed state. One hour in the tank, so they say, is akin to several hours of fabulous relaxing sleep.

Unfortunately, on the day that I tried it I had a small paper cut on my thumb. Man – you do not want to get salt water on a paper cut! Neither do you want to thrash about in an effort to  keep your thumb out of the water. You might end up splashing salt water on your face. Man – you do not want to get salt water into your eyes either!

That thirty minutes in the tank (I got out early) felt like several hours of torture. If I’d have had any secrets to tell I’d have spilled them after the first few minutes.

Not to be deterred, and determined to have something good to write for this blog, I booked a second flotation experience. This time I took up the offer of some optional ‘relaxing’ music. You know the sort of thing – pan pipes played softly against a background of waves bubbling over rock pools.

Unfortunately there was a problem with the CD player. Instead of drifting into the best sleep I’ve ever know, I lay in the dark, floating to a series of irritating clicks and buzzes.

I lasted fifteen minutes.

Finally, determined to make sure I got the best ‘experience’ possible, the flotation centre gave me a third, complimentary session, booked me into the most spacious state-of-the-art pod they had, and double checked everything.

I lay there for fifty minutes.

Nothing hurt.

There was no buzzing.

But my god, I was so bored.

I did have plenty of time to think though, and as I gently tapped the side of the pod and floated from one side to the other I bath2began to realise that actually, flotation might be over rated. My own bath is pretty darn nice. It sits under a huge window. And if you open that window on a summers day there’s really nothing better than lying up to your chin, in soapy bath water – that won’t irritate your paper cuts – whilst looking up at the puffy white clouds, and listening to the sounds of the birds chirping and generally being terrorised by my cat.

I got out of the tank, went home, and did exactly that.

Was my flotation tank experience a wash-out?

Yes. Yes it was.

But does that mean that my next Now List activity will be a disaster?

Of course not.

But then I’m sure you realised that.

External Forces – What are yours?

Sometimes the thing that’s making you unhappy is staring you right in the face. People might tell you that you need to relax more, calm down, try not to take things personally, roll with the punches, “make lemonade when life gives you lemons”, but sometimes – that’s not going to cut it.

Sometimes, it isn’t you.

Sometimes it really is them.

Let’s take a look at who they are

For me, ‘Other People’ have more power than anything else to drain my enthusiasm and suck the pleasure out of life.

It isn’t always the people you think it would be either. Sure, the angry idiot who gestured at me from his car as he drove past took the edge off what might have been a pleasant drive home, but he’s soon forgotten, and I can take solace in the fact that by the way he’s driving he’ll probably wrap his car around a tree in the not too distant future.

No, the people who really have the power to make me really unhappy are either people who I care about, or people who are in some way, important in my life.

We all have them: The manager you don’t get on with – one who seems intent on making your life a misery. The ex-partner you still have to see at family gatherings. Less extreme but just as soul destroying might be the moody work colleague you have to tip toe around. Or the aged relative who you love dearly, but has started to take you for granted.

Sometimes it isn’t the interaction with these people, but the lack thereof. Like the client or a supplier who never returns your calls, never answers your emails, and is somehow never in the office when you ‘pop by’. Or the friend or sibling who is so wrapped up in themselves that after an hour or so in their company you really begin to wonder whether all you are is some sort of audience.

Then there are the corporations, companies and government bodies that determine the structure in which we live. Rarely does a day go by when I haven’t got to deal with an some brow-beaten representative from a corporation or organisation that really couldn’t give two figs about whatever my plight might be.

Sometimes, it feels as if these organisations must be run by people who’s entire aim in life is to make as much money as possible, by any means, but without bringing the slightest bit of joy to anyone involved in the process. And having worked for a number of such organisations I can divulge that this is indeed the case.

That’s just me of course.

So in order to make this section a little more rounded I decided to conduct a quick poll by email with a view to coming up with half a dozen broad sub categories of what brings people down.

That may have been a mistake.

In the last two minutes I’ve been so overwhelmed with ranting emails that instead of depressing both you and myself, I’m just going to list a tiny extract of the items that made me smile or had me bouncing up and down in agreement.

External Forces – popular culprits

  • Hormones
  • Not getting enough sleep
  • People who walk in front of me very, very slowly
  • Being late for anything
  • Not getting any sleep
  • Rubbish Call Centres – “we’re experiencing a high volume of calls at the moment” – no you’re not! This is the same volume of calls you’ve had for the past ten years! You just haven’t got enough staff and you don’t want to take my call!
  • Loud, constant noise (e.g, the roadworks we’ve had outside my building since I started this job)
  • Unfairness
  • Making a mistake
  • losing out on a job
  • “If your call is about something trivial, press 1. If your call is related to something else trivial, press 2. If your call is related to a trivial matter not related to the first two trivial matters press 3. If your call…”
  • Clients who yell at me or get annoyed just because they can, when there’s nothing I can do about it
  • The UK winter (being dark at 4pm)
  • Friends letting me down or losing touch with friends
  • Family not ‘understanding’ me or saying something that makes me feel a bit low
  • “Did you know you can check your balance or order a replacement card via our website…” – yes, I did! Stop telling me this rubbish and put me through a real person!
  • Having a fat day or a bad hair day (yes I am a girl)
  • Being broke and worrying about money
  • The January sales when I’m trying to save
  • Getting stressed about ‘my life’
  • Family or friends being sick or ill, i.e worrying about them
  • Not spending enough time with my family
  • Not having a holiday
  • Being lonely – stuck in the house
  • Realising I haven’t done anything fun for weeks
  • Parking tickets or fines
  • ANY kind of fine, e.g bank fees
  • Having to go to the doctor
  • Paying for a coffee then finding that it’s rubbish (same goes with going out for a meal and it’s bad food and bad service)
  • “I’m a state of the art automated telephone system. Please tell me the nature of your problem.” “I’m sorry, I thought you said you have a frog in your bidet – is that correct?”
  • Reading bad news in the newspaper
  • Thinking about climate change
  • Other people littering
  • Walking past homeless people
  • Bad hairdos
  • Boredom
  • Mess, that I have to clean up
  • Procrastination (makes me guilty, then consequently blue)

Doubtless you’ll have your own items that you can add to that list. Feel free to add them here using the comments section below.