I have decided to start a writing project. This could turn out to be something for blogs, an all-out book, or something towards a university degree… I will have to see where it takes me.
This introduction took me a few hours to write, but a lifetime to prepare for.
Balancing Mood for Greater Productivity: Optimism and Empathy – Strategies to Manage Life
By Mike Scott
Intense productivity and good health derive from the ability to balance mood. I know this from experience. I want to share with you what I have learned about balancing high levels of energy such as mania and hypomania. I have had success by turning these potentially troublesome moods into a consistent calm attitude from which I have been able to generate productivity in the workplace and at home.
You might ask, “In what way has this guy been productive?”. It is about perspective. I have fought through one heck of a lot. Perseverance became a major factor that enabled me to obtain a Bachelor of Arts degree with a psychology major while I fought off manic and mixed episodes in bipolar disorder for the duration of my undergraduate studies. I was hospitalized several times.
I have not had an episode since 2001. Within a decade of taking my degree, I completed my electrical apprenticeship. I worked for close to fifteen years as an electrician. I spent four years as an electrical foreman in data-wiring and had multiple, hard-earned successes in large construction projects. Again: determination got me through. I sustained injuries and worked through pain for many years. Due to the physical dangers for me in the field and the industry demands that threatened to compromise my goals in mental health, I left the electrical trade. Years before this, I had started working on my goals in psychology again.
In 2011 I submitted a paper on goal-pursuit. I was told by a prominent researcher from a top U.S. university that a PhD should be within my reach. By the time I left electrical work in 2015, I had already started casual hours in support work for mental health. I have had success supporting adults, youth and children with special needs for over five years now. This can be gritty work, with emotional and physical challenges. I also coached over a dozen sports teams and won nine championships as a coach in minor league baseball. Yes, this is just kid’s stuff to some, but with new responsibilities in the new millennium and learning from my problems in the 1990’s, I have found better ways to balance mood… and generate productivity.
I suffered a lot from episodes over those years, and I learned how to stop escalating into mania. I did this by managing physical health, taking medication for mental health, and using all sorts of cognitive strategies. New insights allowed me to manage triggers that otherwise would have set me off. They are no longer triggers. My newly balanced and calm demeanor has helped turn many difficult situations into productive ones. This has been noted by family, friends, co-workers, clients and supervisors. My energy is about patience and reason. At the same time, I have electricity. I quietly buzz with productivity, and systematically accomplish goals. I find grounding by getting tasks done and discovering new perspectives to balance mood while appealing to common sense, spirituality and humor. The certain edge that I have, landed me in research with the University of British Columbia. In 2016 I was published as a co-author for a study on “Effective self-management strategies in bipolar disorder”. The team’s research has been respected by the government of Canada with an award of distinction.
Meanwhile, I have worked through challenges in my home-life successfully. I went through a divorce. It was a mutual split. I remain close with my kids and they have adjusted. I do everything I can for them. I gave my ex-wife the home, to settle quickly, and to provide for them. Almost a year after moving out, I became romantically involved with my new partner, and in 2014 I moved in with her, her two kids, and her father. I work extremely hard for all parts of my family, and we are doing considerably well. The four kids get along and are making progress in school and in new occupations. My partner and I are very happy together. I work steady, take care of the kids, handle most of the household chores and help my wife’s dad run what is basically a small hobby farm. All these experiences are ways that I have been productive, while avoiding mania or depression.
Now, if you are still interested, I hope to tell you how I have most effectively balanced mood, to create productivity over my lifetime: Being confident and kind helps me find more productivity! Optimism. Empathy. It’s simple. It seems like a no-brainer! Why can’t people get this? For me, being optimistic increases productivity because it builds a bias towards confidence to achieve. Then, more often: we achieve. Being considerate increases productivity because if we help others, others are more likely to help us! It seems straight-forward. There is something else about caring, when the world gets involved… and the universe. There are so many surprises and challenges that every situation is different. Optimism and empathy have enabled me to have many successes in life.
There is one complex discussion that plays a big role in this book and it may be hard for some people to appreciate initially. I will be using many of my own experiences to describe the psychology which I have based my operations-plan on for most of my entire life. I will explain and support why I feel that some mechanism occurs, and events can unfold, perhaps like karma or synchronicity and in some ways, it can work for us. By having respect for life, such as in procedures in goal-pursuit and in creating routine or ceremony: Life rewards us with serendipity – as if hard work and good intentions have dynamics that are stronger when we recognize and respect value beyond the surface. I find this connection to be very reassuring. It is about visualization of outcomes to some extent. It keeps me level in difficult situations. I will point to a direct correlation between certain moods and productivity in this type of transcendental work, and how this is enhanced by confidence, care and respect. This is where I would like to explain balance from, such that you might attain the same sense of stability too, even amidst possible turmoil.
We balance our life towards goals. Social feedback and the environment can aid or blockade goal-pursuit. Our own belief-system and how we react, is where all the dynamics start. On top of the most essential building blocks of physical and mental health, respect for life may determine mood more than anything else. We can build moods of productivity with optimism and empathy. I will explain how.
(First chapter is under way. You can also read my ideas in the poetry on this website).