Some days are depressing (especially THESE days). We experience negativity in the people we encounter, the stories we read, and even within ourselves, being alone and thinking we can escape from it all. But as human beings, and as artists, there’s a talent which separates us from those who succumb to their depression, and it’s a talent we must practice every single day.
When you’re feeling like you’re sitting in a stew of shit (i.e., the crapper), use the CRAPPYR to get yourself out of it. Below you’ll find a fool-proof method to literally turn that frown upside down.
We have to turn negative things into positivity. Not arbitrarily or at great cost, but because logic (that is, the actual nature of things and relationship between ideas) and rational thought (based on facts, not speculation) can always set us free.
The process forces us to take a situation and find the OPPORTUNITY in it, to find the PEACE in it, to find the LESSON, the COMFORT, and the GOOD. Because in this world, we will constantly be faced with things which would otherwise hurt us and get us down… and if we let them, at best we live a zero-sum game (the bad and the good are even), and at worst, we will find ourselves clinically depressed, unable to live our lives the way we know we should.
So what is the CRAPPYR? I’ve taken some liberties with this technique for our purposes (and honestly, to form a better acronym) from The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday.
C – Choose to do and think right.
R – Resist temptation and bad influences.
A – Accept what you can and can’t control.
P – Purpose, what is your life’s purpose?
P – Prepare for what lies ahead and whatever may come
Y – Yearn to be better.
R – Refuse negative thoughts and things that aren’t true.
Let’s say you’re struggling with going to that audition or sleeping in. On one hand, you’ve been feeling down about your work, and you’re awfully tired … and people need sleep right? On the other hand…
Choose to do and think right. I have found that the “right answer” is almost always clear to us. It’s that the pain of losing out on the pleasure of the “wrong choice” haunts us; or we want to minimize suffering at any cost. Next time you’re faced with a choice, see if you can’t reasonably what the “right” and “good” answer is, according to being a good, motivated, strong human … whether or not you select that!
... Do get pizza or not to get pizza at 3am? Not to get pizza is what is good and right.
... To go to the gym or stay warm in our comfy bed? To go to the gym is what is good and right.
... To confront our roommate with honesty about our qualms, or to yell at her/passive aggressively haunt her, or to ignore the situation completely? To confront our roommate with honesty is obviously the right answer.
... To call our parents, or to avoid them another day? To call our parents is obviously the right answer.
You’re an actor in NYC, and inside you you KNOW that you can find another time to sleep. And every audition is a chance to perform. Even waiting in line reminds you you’re doing all you can to pursue your dreams.
Repulse temptation and bad influences. It’s tempting to stay in the warmth of our bed and indulge in more sleep, but you must repulse the pleasure principle when it is in the way of what you know is right. Beware indulging and pleasuring yourself when it’s in the way of goodness and self-betterment.
Further, repulse the fellow actor who convinces you to stay home. Repulse the roommate who makes you feel poorly about your career choice and how hard it is to wake at 5am for what you feel may be a fruitless venture. These are sources to bring you down.
Accept that you can’t control your AEA status and 5am is the way to go to this call. But you can control making your own work, motivating yourself and finding other opportunities. While you’re waiting in line, send some emails to an old collaborator/colleague, make plans to do something artistically and stimulating that is totally within your control, and don’t allow yourself to feel badly or sad about things that aren’t in your control.
Purpose. You’re an actor in NYC, and your purpose is to do musical theater. Your purpose is not to sleep. Need I say more?
Prepare for the annoyance of waiting in that line, of dealing with the self-doubt. Prepare and bring a self-help book, or a favorite, upbeat album. Make a snack you really love that is healthy. Prepare that you may not be seen, and accept it before you even go on the train. Prepare to laugh about it, prepare to soothe yourself afterwards with something stimulating. CAN YOU create a win-win for yourself??
Yearn to be better, which means not succumbing to the physical temptation and desire (noticing a pattern here?). The better version of you pushes through, rallies, and does the hard (good) stuff.
And perhaps the most important step …
Refuse the negative thoughts, and things that aren’t true, like the thought that you aren’t cut out for this (you are), the thought that everyone is laughing at you behind you’re back (they’re not), the thought that you’ll never be AEA (you will someday if you keep working your ass off) or this will never get easier (in some ways it will, and new challenges will emerge).
Try it with some negative situation you find yourself in today, whether it’s small or large. Transform the negative INTO the positive!
Put this system in the “notes” on your phone, and practice with it at some point in the next three days. Imagine a scenario…
If you’re having trouble specifically with one of these steps and you don’t know how to turn a negative into a positive, text me, and I’ll help you find the solution.