When all looks bleak

If all looks bleak and negative today, it is probably a sign that you need some sleep.

On a Monday three weeks ago, I found myself feeling very negative. Every thing I was doing seemed headed down the drain. There came a moment when I was telling a friend I was disappointed with my performance on a test and that all was looking dark. He reminded me to follow the process. That was ironic because that’s what I generally do.

I realized then that there was something wrong. And, what was different about that day? 4 hours of sleep. A bit more thought led to this – optimism takes willpower -> sleep drains willpower => low sleep leads to low optimism.

This felt so obvious and, yet, I’d never made the connection. I needed a bit more evidence though and I got it over the past two days. I was running on low sleep over the past two days and, voila, I was as pessimistic as I had been for a long time. That’s not to say that pessimism is bad. A healthy dose of pessimism is useful. But, I find that we’re all wired with healthy amounts by default. It takes effort to look beyond the pessimism and focus on getting things done.

And, as I’ve recently discovered, sleep is critical to maintaining sufficient amounts of optimism.

One final musing – I also find optimism to be the key to making long-term decisions. Pessimism definitely doesn’t seem to inspire long-term thinking. I wonder if that is one of the contributors of the absence of long-term thinking among sleep deprived politicians and executives..