It was 2:30pm and I was feeling down in the dumps.

The outlook seemed bleak for the initiative I was trying to get off the ground, no one had said yes to my requests, and some part of my brain was thinking maybe I was a failure after all.

I had been waiting for the world to embrace me and essentially “fall at my feet” but no one else seemed to know they were supposed to do that.

Just then, I happened to look out of the window to see blue skies and sunshine. If this were a TV sitcom, there would be the sound of a stereo player needle scratching across a vinyl record to indicate, “snap out of it and get back to reality”.

In truth, everything was fine, but I was hungry, jet-lagged, cooped up in an office and just plain feeling sorry for myself.

And so, it was time to break out my “antidote”, which was to:

  1. Get out of the office for some fresh air
  2. Find some food (it happened to be Panda Express, the nearest restaurant)
  3. Sit in the sun and eat it
  4. Write out 10 things I’m grateful for and 10 things I’ve accomplished

As I sat outside typing my gratitude list (I had already gone through antidote steps 1-3), the person I was supposed to meet with at 3pm walked by. He pulled up a chair and we had a great chat.

He gave me some excellent ideas for an article I was writing, and I learned that he was planning to become a leadership coach as well. Better yet, there was scope for collaboration going forward.

Funny how everything turned up once I had taken my antidote. The key was to recognize my “condition” so I could take steps to get out of the negative zone and back into the zone of possibilities, where there’s everything to play for.

Someone taught me that when your mood drops, you have to HALT, which means checking on whether you are:

  • Hungry
  • Angry
  • Lonely
  • Tired

While it originated as a way to help recovering addicts from relapsing, the HALT concept is a useful tool to help us take better care of ourselves in daily life.

And I would add an S for sun-deprived. So in my modified version, it’s HALTS.

So, when you are feeling negative or when things seem overwhelming, check on the HALTS characteristics and remedy them before you do anything else. And whatever you do, don’t make any serious decisions when you’re under the influence of HALTS.