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What Blue Monday? The power of self-hypnosis

Posted Jan 27 2009 8:05pm

Well, the media is abuzz today with ways of banishing the effects of so-called Blue Monday - apparently the most depressing day of the year.

According to this article at The Daily Mail, for example, ‘unpaid Christmas bills, nasty weather, and failed New Year’s resolutions combine to make January 22 the gloomiest in the calendar.’

The history of what is claimed to be the unhappiest day in the year all began with a researcher called Cliff Arnall and a marketing campaign. In fact, Blue Monday now even has its own entry on Wikipedia which reads:

‘Blue Monday is a name given to a date stated, as part of a publicity campaign by Sky Travel, to be the most depressing day of the year.

This date was published in a press release under the name of Cliff Arnall, at the time a tutor at the Centre for Lifelong Learning, a Further Education centre attached to Cardiff University.Guardian columnist Dr Ben Goldacre reported that the press release was delivered substantially pre-written to a number of academics by Public Relations agency Porter Novelli, who offered them money to put their names to it.

The Guardian later printed a statement from Cardiff University distancing themselves from Arnall: “Cardiff University has asked us to point out that Cliff Arnall… was a former part-time tutor at the
university but left in February.”

Arnall says the date was calculated by using many factors, including: weather conditions, debt level (the difference between debt accumulated and our ability to pay), time since Christmas, time since
failing our new year’s resolutions, low motivational levels and feeling of a need to take action. Writing about the calculation, Goldacre stated:
… the fact is that Cliff Arnall’s equations … fail even to make mathematical sense on their own terms.

This date typically falls on the Monday of the last full week of January…’

The authors of the wonderful Mind Hacks blog are so scathing about the science involved in Blue Monday that they have been running a competition for the last couple of weeks to come up with the best alternative spoof equation.

Apparently, the good news is that we Brits are a nation of optimists and 85% of us believe that the future will be better than things are now, according top a survey on behalf of Standard Life Bank, also reported in The Daily Mail article.

There is even an Optimist Society that, as this story at BBC News tells us, is planning a special cheer-up celebration and even intends to cheer-up Jeremy Paxman:

James Battison, founder of the “loose-knit social-action group” said: “As an optimist you get to bathe luxuriously in your own good-feeling, while also sparking some fun and laughter in others. It’s a win-win way to live. I highly recommend it!

“The key to feeling positive lies in taking action and making other people smile. Remember, life could always be worse, but with positive action things will always get better.”

Cheer packages are also being sent to Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling, Radio 4 presenter John Humphrys, famously straight-faced comedian Jack Dee and the cast of the BBC soap

In London, a free lunchtime comedy show will be held at the Comedy Store, featuring a motivational session from comedian Neil Mullarkey.

The Optimists Society describes itself as “a social-action group promoting positivity and helping people make a difference to themselves and others through simple actions”.

So the message is clear. However hypnotic a term like Blue Monday might seem, we can always make the conscious choice to feel good - and making others feel good is a great way to start.

It is pouring down and freezing cold here in Yorkshire but I am feeling as warm as toast thinking about the lovely people in my life who help me to feel good. I am very lucky indeed.

I wish you all a fabulous and happy Monday.

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