Karen was a successful boutique manager. Her husband and children seemed
quite content in their well-organized home. Neighbors, friends and customers
thought she was, "Superb... so talented." Yet Karen allowed herself to become
depressed, feeling that for the most part, life had no meaning. Why?

Jonah had been a "triple-A" baseball player, widely recognized for his talents
at the plate. Yet, even knowing that he was a season away from a big league
contract was not enough to off-set the empty feeling in his gut.

Bernie was a computer programmer at a large corporation, who was being groomed
for a management position. His presence reflected an air of confidence,
security; a true company man. When the company air became thick with the
threat of lay-offs, he appeared to whither, looking quite anxious, and making
negative self-statements. He had convinced himself he was "stuck", that things
there would never be the same. And he was right. But was "stuck" his only

Every New Year's Eve, we engage in a truly American ritual. We party, drink
champagne, watch the "ball" come down on Times Square in New York City, and make
New Year's Resolutions...that we often fail to keep. However successful, what is
really implied by a "resolution" is some form of change. And change means
altering the meaning of an experience. Daily meanings-- the kind that make life
rich, warm, exciting-- have to do with the ways in which we represent our
experiences. These internal representations, the information provided by our
senses, allow us to know from moment to moment what to do next. They help us
maintain on-going experiences or, "coherency." And they are intricately linked
to our physiological states. On a regular basis, we sample our environment-- a
smorgasbord of daily events, many of which can threaten our well-being-- and
make numerous decisions that are the result of our physiological states at a
given moment. Physiology, that is, muscle tension, breathing patterns, posture,
tonality and other physiological indicators, directly affect the manner in which
we represent our internal experiences, and vice versa.

If someone feels lethargic shuffling through the day with slumped shoulders,
eyes down, weak, shallow breathing, the internal representation or, "meaning"
that is created is one of being depressed. Consequently any activities which
become associated with this meaning-- work, leisure, reading, chores, and social
interactions-- will become depressing. In contrast if you change your
physiological state to the way it is when you feel strong, it will change your
internal representations about how you feel at the moment.

Thus, people operate through their day with positive or negative on-going
experiences. And this perpetuates their attendant emotional states. The same
event, a potentially large corporate reduction, can have different meanings. it
can be the occasion to become immobile, depressed, pessimistic, stuck. Or after
the initial shock of the news, it can become an occasion to become creative and
take action to find a new solution. When you carry yourself in a manner which
reflects a dim future, guess what happens? Just like a vacation, wedding, or the
construction of a house, a dim future requires adequate planning!

Interestingly, you can just as easily create more positive, goal-directed
emotional states by changing your physiology to reflect a change. If you look
upward and imagine in your mind's eye having achieved something desirable, stand
erect with your shoulders back, breathe deeply from your diaphragm, and walk
briskly, it is rather difficult to simultaneously feel depressed! When people
tell me they can't do something, I usually say, "Pretend that you are able."
When they retort, "But I don't know how", I tell them to "Act as if you did know
how. How would you appear in your mind's eye? How would your face appear? What
would your posture be like? You’re breathing? How would that feel?"

So as you ring in the New Year, resolve how you would like to change. What is
missing that prevents it from happening? How could you organize yourself
differently, internally, so it doesn't become more fodder for next year's
depression? And as for that depression, "Let old acquaintance be forgot..