36 ways to Deal with Depression

36 ways to Deal with Depression

I was hanging with my uncle Kenny at a Mexican restaurant (obviously) a month ago in San Diego and we started talking about smoothie recipes.

It dawned on me at that moment how grateful I was to be alive. There were so many more smoothie recipes to make the next day and I had something to look forward to…


Compare this to October. I had one of the best weeks and worst weeks this year. WTF happened?

I’m not completely sure. Sometimes it’s so easy to analyze others than spend the time to look at ourselves.

 For the great week,  life was simple, my mind was insanely clear, I was trying new recipes / activities,  I knew what I wanted in almost all decisions and was able to empower others to surprisingly high levels.

Then the 2 following weeks I hardly wanted to take phone calls, life seemed pretty dully and our refreshing of AppSumo seemed like another setback instead of progress.

It’s SO much easier to NOT feel depressed when business is going well. As well, when you have other distractions in life (externally and internally).

Over the past months I’ve been clearing out distractions in my life. Less drinking, better people and exploring what excites me at work.  So how could I be feeling down?

I have some assumptions why I may be "down":

  • I had a few drinks, previously I wasn’t drinking at all.
  • I wasn’t at home for the 2 weeks.
  • AppSumo was refreshing so profits are basically 1 year reversed.
  • I’m still exploring being happy completely alone (relationship-wise).
  • Maybe a few more I’m not aware of.

BUT sometimes it’s hard to know what changed or why we are in this funk.

One thing that’s super valuable is going back in time to try and recognize when things changed. Did you eat something? Was it something someone said? Work related? Drug related?

We spend A LOT of energy moping but not talking to the one person who can cure it. OURSELF!

I can’t tell you that I’m feeling 100% but I’m exploring what really makes me consistently fulfilled and happy to be alive.

Ultimately, finding the root issue and resolving that will be help you live a fulfilled life.

Here’s what I am doing to improve my root issue:

  • Talk with 3 trusted people. Ask them. Listen to them. Fully. Walk with them. Hug them.
  • Yourself. You know the answer. Others will help you validate or present it more clearly.
  • Pen & paper. Write it ALL out.

Sometimes the answer won’t magically appear. Shitty, I wish it did….

I have realized the act of DOING can be SUPER powerful in figuring what you want. It’s like working out, you CAN’T be unhappy and work out at the same time.

“These smart guys are in a house and don’t have any great ideas and have all the time to do it. Guilt / depression worms inside of them.
Nothing happens because there’s not enough real activity and challenge: You’re not in contact with the experimental guys. You don’t have to think how to answer questions from students. Nothing! “

- Richard Feynman

Ever meet those people who are SO certain? I can immediately think of my brother, Adam Gilbert and my business partner Chad Boyda.

It’s like they always have the answers and are so grounded with who they are. Am I like that? How do you become like that?

To get like that,  it’s really about peeling the onion back to find out who we are and what we actually want. Knowing what we don’t like, what excites us and why we are live. It’s inside, we’ve been building it out for X amount of years. Just dusty and warn down from work, leaches in our lives and unhealthy activities.

While walking around Connecticut this weekend I wanted ammunition for when I’m feeling sad. There are ways to deal with depression....

So I listed 36 ways I’ve used to feel better. These are temporary, but still helpful…

  1. Help someone else. It can be small like holding open a door, larger like volunteering or evening buying a random person a latte at Starbucks.
  2. Dance. Michael Ellsberg showed me the power of this. Do it completely for yourself, not others.
  3. Go for a walk. As my friend Adam says forward movement is forward progress. I can attest just getting out of sedentary position is really powerful.
  4. Write it out. What do you think I’m doing 🙂 The good and the bad. It’ll help you remember when there are better days.
  5. Dwell in it. Seriously. I know this is a bit contradictory. Sometimes it feels good to simmer in it.
  6. Indulge in 1 "bad" thing. Eat a candy bar (when did this become bad, ha!). Take a drink. Take someones parking spot at Whole Foods. Whatever floats your boat.
  7. Get drunk / high. Do this with caution and awareness of momentary escape. This will NOT solve the depression and will likely continue it if abused.
  8. Hit the gym. I have NEVER EVER felt bad after the gym. As much as I’ve avoided to go, I never regret.
  9. Listen to great music. Have a happy playlist.
  10. Have a happy email folder / label. I look at this once or twice a year. Always brings a smile to my face.
  11. Zone out to the tv / movie. It’s okay to just let your mind go. Dwelling may not always be the solution.
  12. Surround yourself with positive people and positive triggers. Your real friends and positive people will want to cheer you up.
  13. Listen to a comedy movie or standup. I always laugh at Mitch Hedburg but choose your own medicine
  14. Reflect on a great thing you've done. Look at something in the past you are PROUD of, something you worked really hard at and accomplished.
  15. 1 small win. Clean your room, brush your teeth, take out the trash, anything.
  16. Talk to a parent. Relative. My mom is a rock. Find the person who really knows you and is always supportive, unconditionally.
  17. The 5 minute rule. You get 5 minutes to COMPLETELY whine out. Go hard. A lot of times you realize how small or insignificant our issues are.
  18. Write out everything when you are feeling sad. It’s really funny to laugh at when you are feeling better. Do the opposite when you are in a great mood. Look for patterns about where, when and why you are in this mood. I wrote this out on a post-it note and try to put myself back in those places when not feeling great.
  19. Avoid work. Your work will reflect you which is sucky work. Some of these contradictory. I’ve just noticed when I have incongruence in my feelings / emotions then I’m not doing my best work. Other times working is a great cure to feeling better.
  20. Change your environment. I’ve noticed being at home cheers me up but if it’s leaving your home, doing a fav activity (for me it’d be disc golf) or going to a fav city; do it.
  21. Hot tub. I love em. Go naked. Try it out.
  22. Listen to someone else's problems. I am sure there is some deeper psychology but listening to others issues generally makes me think mine aren’t as bad. Kinda similar how we all think our family was the weirdest until you hear about someone else’s. You KNOW what I’m talking about
  23. Read in a coffee shop. Be around others. Makes you realize there are others on Earth, gives me a sense of being connected. Even if you say, "I have no friends" go to a place where you can be with people. The only way to find friends is to be around people who can become friends. Start there.
  24. Text a friend that always texts back. That always cheers me up.
  25. Throw stuff away. Seriously. Clear up your place will help clear up your mind.
  26. Incense. Have some positive association with smell and go back to it.
  27. Smile at a stranger. Make it a competition. Just forcing your smile will help.
  28. Eat at your fav restaurant.Tacos!
  29. Be congruent. Don't fake. When someone asks how you are doing, be honest. You’ll be shocked at how much closer to others you’ll feel and how much better you’ll feel.
  30. Focus on what positive you can do. Anything? Something? 1 thing?
  31. Look at old people. This always helps me realize the finiteness of our time and using the best of the time.
  32. Have activities / places you know cheer you up. Make a list. Go to it when feeling down.
  33. Check ‘yo ego. Think if the emotion / sadness / feelings are from what you really want internally or more for an external validation. Thinking through
  34. 1 minute rainbow. Find a close friend and have them tell you via email for 1 minute about how awesome you are. Reference this when needed.
  35. Look macro. If you are working towards your purpose then the bumps of shit growth or bad rev days are okay. I know my mornings are SUPER impacted by sales / response from Sumo-lings. Even after 2 years it still gets to me. Ultimately it’s recognizing a higher purpose and staying true to that.
  36. Go to laughing yoga. Haven’t tried but I hear this barista in Starbucks laughing and it cheers me up.

AND (bonus!) make a list of what a great day looks like. Do the things that make your day great. Even if it's just one thing.

So where does that leave me?

I’m home. Austin. My scooter. My new Vitamix (LOVE!). My gym. My office. My co-workers. My friends. What is it about all this that makes me happy? I’m not 100% sure but I know it makes me happy.

The easiest way to think about moving forward:

  1. How can I simplify my life? (remove / add people, places, things). Read this amazing article about simplifying life (via Susan)
  2. Subscribe to DailyOm.com
  3. Remember that failure is good. When you learn from failure and overcome it, you can be happier even when things don't go your way.
  4. Start EVERY DAY off with something small and positive. However trivial it may be. Something that makes you smile. It can be incense, a picture, something material, texting Noah, eating oatmeal (I LOVE cinnamon and raisin), whatever.
  5. Reading Richard Feynman's (thanks Nev!) book “Surely you must be joking Mr. Feyman” and realizing that curiosity, playing and doing the things that interest you will lead you to the right place.

Do I have the answer for what will make myself consistently fulfilled? No, I wish. I’d bottle that up and eBay it for a millie.

For me, it's important to know it will happen and that's okay. Remember depression or failure or whatever has a lot to teach us. Embrace it but try not to make it self fulfilling...

Why are you happy to be alive?


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77 responses to “36 ways to Deal with Depression”

Michelle Catapang
December 9, 2019 at 3:48 am

Such a nice content. This will be helpful for people who needs assurance on what they are dealing right now will eventually be alright. Thank you for this content!

Cortt Parker
April 16, 2019 at 4:55 am

reading this article has already made me feel better, can’t wait to take the advice!

March 14, 2019 at 11:02 am

I am happy to be alive because I feel like I am on a journey, a challenge, to becoming a better person and a better human being, more skilled and more knowledgable. And I am a guy who loves challenges.

February 15, 2020 at 2:45 pm

U GO Karim!

September 11, 2017 at 4:39 am

The problem is: Where can I find the strength to walk to do whatever could help me? I have so many problems/traumas to deal with that it blocks any attempt of doing something.

March 18, 2017 at 7:02 am

I don't know if I am - or ever have been...
What does the word "Happy" even mean?
Is that what comes after contentment?

September 11, 2017 at 4:42 am

A friend told me once that "if we stop to pretend we are ok maybe we could use that amount of energy to rule the world. But we always try to fake happiness to avoid the others.

March 9, 2017 at 3:14 pm

Thank you for this. This is something I have to deal with every now and then. You know what I think really helps, besides what you mentioned? A pet. I have a dog (my therapist).

November 7, 2016 at 5:31 am

Thanks I'm going through the low lows right now, but will try these and see if they help

April 8, 2016 at 10:35 pm

Thank you <3 18 years ago I spent the better part of a year and half in the hospital. I just wanted to die. I crawled out of that hole and had 18 amazing years. about a year ago it all fell down.systematically piece by piece it was all gone.. jobs..friends..money...i had my partner though.. until last month. While I don't feel as i did 18 years ago...the depression is quite the same. I will try some of your list. Maybe a new one each day.. without predetermining success or failure..just try. Thanks for sharing.. I shall survive..I always do. and so will you.

December 6, 2015 at 5:37 pm

Sometimes I'm not happy to be alive. Sometimes life just fooken sucks. I think something people don't tell you is that just like any business.. you can't WAIT to feel happy. You have to CREATE happiness yourself. But, it takes extra energy and just like anything worth having its hard work, which gets easier over time when you consistently push yourself to look at the positive and not dwell in feeling sorry for yourself, because no one really cares. I think what I've seen is how I use unhappiness - I really like to push myself and sometimes I don't know when to stop. By feeling sorry for myself it gives me an 'excuse' to stop, when really I should be smart enough to be self-aware enough to just give myself a fooken break 🙂 Give yourself a fooken break 🙂

Justin White
November 11, 2015 at 1:21 pm

Hi Noah,

Man, I felt for you as I read this post. I recognize all these symptoms, and my life for ten years or more has felt like an ongoing dialogue surrounding these questions so I'm psyched to answer them. I'm happy to be alive because it exists - life I mean. It's inherently kind of magic to be something rather than nothing and I'm committed to being a part of that. I don't mean this lightheartedly, the appeal of nothing is significant. But just breathing and being a living animal is itself, magic, if you can access that without filtering it through a lot of thinking. For me this is bulletproof, and although I can mentally, internally, litigate against my own right for happiness in so many ways, I can't convince myself it's not good to just be. Mindfulness helps. I recommend just feeling your feet on the floor for 10 minutes.

I want to gently suggest that while it is sometimes useful to look for the root cause of your depression ( what changed, what you ate, what your behaviour patterns have been etc. ), this investigation might be fueling a feedback loop. This study (http://www.medicaldaily.com/stop-overthinking-negative-experiences-excessive-rumination-linked-depression-anxiety-260221) identifies rumination and self blame as leading causes of depression. It's tempting probe the problem, but if you're depressed, you're not seeing clearly and you're the last one to be trusted in investigating the root cause. If you investigate while drunk on depression chemicals nine times out of ten you'll 'realize' it was all your fault.

I'm not saying I don't investigate for causes, but I never do it while I'm depressed and I always talk it over with good people. Depression is itself a little illogical, and in my experience if you can nail the lifestyle supports you've fought half the battle but the other half is an internal battle to accept and be open to sadness, and to stop 'doing' in order to just be. Paradoxically releasing the struggle for happiness allows it to grow.

Hope you're having a great day man, and thanks for being vulnerable and talking about depression online.


July 15, 2015 at 5:02 pm

Oh well, i just stumbled into this old post of yours. I think what you felt at that time is normal given your circumstances. I am wondering - Is it normal for 'some people' to NOT get depressed about thing? Maybe a little stressed/unhappy... but depression is often very deep.

Maya Hanley
February 26, 2015 at 1:14 pm

Wow. I have had depression off and on most of my life and only recently discovered I have Celiac Disease. Apparently, depression is a big part of it because your immune system is fighting and you also don't absorb nutrition properly. Go figure. I have battled to stay cheerful and am naturally an optimist so depression seemed so counter to my natural self. So, now I know part of why it was happening, I have totally changed my diet (Celiac is life threatening) and eat zero gluten and mainly a paleo diet (I also have a Vitamix which I love). Now it's the exercise that has to start again. I love your lists of things to do. Very helpful and, most of all, your openness about it. A HUGE part of my problem was not letting people know how I was really feeling. It's also good to know that someone like you, who seems so happy, has suffered with this and that you are helping people with your honesty. Thanks!

January 31, 2015 at 4:23 am

Love the list! For me it helps if I go with my dog for a very long walk ...another thing that helped (a few years back) was to develop a healthy addiction lol, when i made my first lip balm I was soo happy and proud I really fell for the whole DIY high! Started making natural soap, creams, shampoos, and a lot of other things I never ever thought I would do. I guess its like a therapy to me...I recently decided to start blogging, and your site is very helpful, so thanks Noah!

July 17, 2014 at 6:12 pm

Noah, I really like these posts, sometimes even more than your marketing tips!

Promise that you'll try laughing Yoga!! It's closer to enlightenment then getting high, ejaculating or sneezing!

Maya Hanley
February 26, 2015 at 1:14 pm

Laughing Yoga? Do you think they have it in the UK?

James A
July 7, 2014 at 1:57 pm

Noah, saw your post about feeling low after alcohol.

I'm 40 now, married with kids, own a few businesses, etc.

I got to a point where my hangovers were mentally draining even after just a couple of glasses of wine. I started not liking that I was a louder version of myself after some drinks....thinking I may have said something, and couldn't really recall if I said something or not, and how it was perceived. I'm sure it was all in my head, but the next day after a shitty night's sleep, it became a drain just thinking about it. Not to mention the bigger stupid stuff like sometimes driving home after a happy hour or such while I was a bit impaired. That was really dumb.

Took a short hiatus and ultimately got in to new hobbies. Even did a full Ironman at the end of last year after never doing any sports my whole life. Haven't gone back to booze after 2.5 years. It just wasn't for me anymore.

Actually have more fun at the bars now than I ever did and have the ability to then get a good night's sleep and exercise the next day. The energy consistency is awesome. I feel physically great all the time and that definitely improves the mental part. Just wanted to throw out my experience in case it's useful to anyone.

Justin Madigan
April 23, 2014 at 7:57 pm

Noah, Thanks for the great post! There is such a stigma associated with depression in our society. This is unfortunate because nobody is happy happy happy (despite the garbage we digest on Facebook everyday). Anyways, here is my favorite smoothie recipe (ultimate happiness guaranteed). Let me know what you think!:

1 massive part blueberries
1 massive part spinach
1 cup of high fat/low sugar plain yogurt
1 banana
1 raw organic egg (optional)
1 tablespoon of almond butter
cinnamon (to taste)
water to desired thickness

March 1, 2014 at 2:13 pm

Great read. I just discovered your site and it it has already been so helpful. On a side note: You are adorable 🙂

January 20, 2014 at 12:25 pm

You left out one. It is a long-term solution. And it's not just for people who are depressed. But generally who want to feel better. It also dramatically increases the quality of your life.

Get a girlfriend/boyfriend. (ie get into a serious relationship with a person)*

I guess the short-term variant would be get into a not-so-serious relationship (or an overnight relationship) with a person.

*The internet isn't classified as a person.

January 7, 2014 at 1:39 pm

To be what you are you have to first know who you are. And there is no way you can do that by yourself or by reading a book. You need someone to guide you. This has worked for me:
I started 5 years ago and slowly my life has changed for the better. Today while still being a software engineer working for startups I have found my true balance and fulfillingness

December 3, 2013 at 2:56 pm

Interesting... I worked at I job I hated but made good money. Saved some over the 3 years I worked for the bastards and after experiencing depression , realizing I was depressed, and learning a lot about myself I decided to quit. It felt great to tell them to fuck off...
Went back home for 3 months ( I'm from Brazil ) , I really needed my mom and dad!.Traveled to places I had never been before in my country with my best friends.
Came back to America and traveled, traveled , traveled...everywhere I was invited to . Met great people , went to amazing beautiful places I had never been before , and experienced life to the fullest ! It felt great !
I made a decision to invest my money on myself , on being happy and doing things I had never done. Now , almost a year after I quit I'm running out of money, I have no flipping clue of what I wanna do and it's frightening to see my savings account going to zero.
No regrets on doing what I did but I guess I was expecting some great idea for a business to come out of all the amazing time, happiness and gratefulness I experienced ... Not really ????
I know what makes me happy., traveling , helping others ( I did some volunteering as well) working out , eating heathy , basically everything Ive been doing for the past year , but with no money it will be impossible to keep doing this ! Any suggestions?

Pete Bruce
November 15, 2013 at 8:20 pm

I found some old "Self-Help Notes" my grandfather wrote from the 70s and 80s. One that really struck me was "learn to deal with your problems,not necessarily try and solve them". That really helped me realize that hard times and lows are just part of everyday life and are not destinations and not places our psyche will stay very long. Great post!

October 11, 2013 at 6:22 am

Thanks Noah, great list and thoughts, thanks for sharing.

Michael Stark
October 3, 2013 at 2:52 pm

Thanks Noah, really needed to read this right now. I've been struggling for a while now and even quit the HTMYFD course (which I really regret now) thinking some how it would make things better. Going to give your ideas a go and hopefully some of them will make a difference.

September 14, 2013 at 12:07 am

Hey mate, totally get you. I struggle with depression daily and it's never obvious why. I know drinking doesn't help me but I don't give up either. What you said about "everything being on the up so why am I in this funk" or words to that effect makes sense. I hope you get through it man, but life since appsumo has been pretty hectic for you so it makes sense that you would be struggling. Just keep surrounding yourself with good people. I read Tim Ferris books to deal with the downers but that's just me. He's just so damn positive.

Chanelle Henry
August 22, 2013 at 10:52 am

I really love you. Like.. no seriously. After looking at your talk in Omaha, and just reading what you write, it so mimics my mind that I'm kicking myself for not having a beer with you in Austin when I said I would. This was helpful as I'm going through this right now, and I keep telling myself.."This is your first time at life.. chill out, you aren't doing it wrong.. just be patient and stop taking everything seriously". And I know that as a person that I look up to, or admire, it's cool to see your journey and I thank you for being so transparent.

So.. thanks. 🙂

August 10, 2013 at 8:02 pm

First time commenter. Just watched your Omaha talk and it resonated. I've had a lonely year over the past year (trying to get into med school - just got my first rejection so the process has had its downs), but I've been trying to keep spirits up. I'm grateful for my parents' support and your honesty! This advice need not only apply to entrepreneurs

July 13, 2013 at 9:33 pm

This is a great post Noah. It's inspiring in that its humanizing. Showing that even those that we look up to can and do deal with the same feelings and emotions that the rest of us do.

These are all great tips and very similar to ones that I frequently use. This is something that has great potential to be expanded upon. I think helping people move past negativity is something worth while and critical to moving the human race forward. Everyone deserves to be happy and live in fulfillment. Thank you for your inspiration.

June 20, 2013 at 7:34 pm

Your post just made me smile! Great insights and tips as well. It also made me think about a friend I like sharing my thoughts with.

June 20, 2013 at 6:22 am

Noah, I always appreciate your insights. I've just only found your blog recently and already I've learned so much like, how to validate simply, not to get paralyzed from research, understand your objectives, really listen to what people want and be good to them, don't just take opportunities that are only about the money, rather, do what turns you on and gets you excited to get on with your work everyday, and now this. I'm going to take your list to heart and implement a few of those things each day that things get tough. I appreciate your generosity with us, it's inspiring. I'd like to do the same with others too.

Heidi Thompson
June 19, 2013 at 11:03 am

This post is super helpful. I hate hitting those lows but one thing that has helped me is keeping track of what I do daily so I can go back and see what I've accomplished when I'm feeling shitty about myself.

Noah Kagan
June 20, 2013 at 2:56 am

No doubt. Lately I've noticed that post drinking I'm lower. So when I feel low I understand why and want to drink less in the future.

March 9, 2017 at 3:16 pm

I was going to mention this. If I am feeling low, I can't drink. It really does not help me. That and not sleeping.

April 30, 2013 at 2:21 pm

Great list!

I like hanging with my dog. She listens intently and doesnt answer back.

December 18, 2012 at 1:00 am

This is a great list...thanks for sharing, Noah!!!

I would just like to add: bathbombs from LUSH (they are fantastic), making a real cup of tea using loose tealeaves (preferably Matte Vanna), and getting an organic mango mani/pedi while drinking A glass of wine. 😀

November 27, 2012 at 5:51 am

Ill add to all the suggestions with one tiny video:

YouTube: How to Be Alone

It'll rock your world in the nicest subtlest way.

November 25, 2012 at 7:06 pm

Can I suggest a super easy and FREE method that helped me? Writing daily gratitude lists. Look at your life, even if there are not so fab parts, and think of the absolute best aspect of everything. Appreciate the good. You will begin to see more good things and less negatives. Depression is nerve racking because the feelings of despair feel disproportionate, it is truly crazy making. So why not focus on being crazy positive? It's certainly more fun! So what if you have to fake it a bit? Eventually you smile inside if you smile on the outside.

November 15, 2012 at 11:28 am

Just saw your amazing talk on Creative Live with Tim Ferriss, Googled you and found your blog here. This post jumped out to me as it's something I've looked into before -

One thing I've found that's helped me alot with psychological issues is something called IFS ("Internal Family Systems"). It's a cutting-edge psychotherapy that gets good really good results fast. Not just talking around issues, but actual healing and transformation.

They see the personality as naturally split into "Parts" that run the show at different times... so someone might have a depressed Part that takes over and runs things for whatever reason By getting in touch with that Part and any other Parts involved you can form a relationship with them, hear their story and heal them. It's really powerful and profound

Good intro here:

BTW some of the top practitioners are based in San Francisco ( I assume that's where you're at). Anyway, hope that's useful to you!

November 4, 2012 at 4:37 pm

amazing smoothie recipes would make me happy right now!

Jeffrey Hartmann
October 24, 2012 at 11:24 pm


I battled depression when I was a kid at the end of my first serious relationship, and I have constantly done things since I climbed out of that very deliberately everyday that has really worked for me. I can't report that my life is always roses (everyone has some ups and downs obviously), but even after 13 years with a serious illness (Ankylosing Spondylitis), periods of crazy work habits, etc. I have been depression free for 17 years. I accomplish this in a very structured way like you do, let me share a little bit of my list with you and your readers. My joy has always been creating things. I take photos, play in the gimp, write, read, read to my son, talk to my wife, and code like a madman in a variety of languages. These acts of creation were the 'pill' that I needed, and viewing them in the proper light and perspective was the positive force I needed. Sounds like you are focusing in on what keeps the negative thoughts at bay, keep it up.

I also like Richard Feynman a lot btw, if you haven't picked up some of the other popular books about his life I would very much recommend it. QED is also very accessible, and if you listen to his quantum lectures he gave in Australia it helps some of the difficult parts gel. If you have the desire, his lectures on physics are probably the best that are out there and if you can grab the audio and listen along you really get a sense of how dynamic and rare a teacher and man he was in life. I'm a rabid Feynman junkie, sounds like you have been bitten by the bug. I think you should dive in deeper, you will enjoy it.


Natalie Kim
October 23, 2012 at 12:45 pm

Thanks for being honest and making me feel less weird!

Coast Ranger
October 21, 2012 at 2:18 pm

Something to do always--regardless of your momentary mood--is count your blessings. Name and recognize everything good in your life. Do this everyday and especially do it when your are down.

October 20, 2012 at 2:45 pm

This is the quote for my fb cover photo (https://sphotos-a.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ash4/256588_10101446302160683_1886626367_o.jpg): "At least once every day I shall look steadily up at the sky and remember that I, a consciousness with a conscience, am on a planet traveling in space with wonderfully mysterious things above and about me." - Clyde Kilby

It's something I would do, not necessarily when I was depressed, but during midterm/busy season (which is kinda the same thing i guess). I found it helpful because during midterm season or pity-party season, my world can shrink down to the size of... me - my concerns, my worries, my issues... but there's so much more to this world than just me.

Sometimes, the best cure isn't deeper introspection, but looking away from ourselves to something bigger (either that or downing tacos from the taco truck on International and 21st in Oakland). Like you said in #17, "A lot of times you realize how small or insignificant our issues are."

October 19, 2012 at 8:02 am

The spark of success and happiness are dynamic by nature, not static, so every year I commit to trying something I either suck at, don't understand, or don't want to do, and I accept that this is going to change me for the better. This has enabled me to embrace failures with a clear head, and to seize on singular moments that have powerful influence over the big picture.

My rules
1. Consistent failure is the best guide to success and happiness!
2. Success and happiness have to be claimed
3. Trust gut feelings
4. Try something new today (when something new comes up)

Your ways to feel better
21. Not cool, dude. Unless you own the hot tub.
Everything else - AWESOME

What makes me happy to be alive?
1. Family
2. Friends
3. Work
4. The way things are
5. WordPress
6. Calling both New York, and Texas home
7. March Madness
8. The NFL
9. My shitty brick of a non-smart phone
10. NPR
11. "Good Day Sunshine" by the Beatles
12. XBox 360
13. Knowing that this list has meaning to me and not necessarily anyone else
14. Honest feedback

Awesome post, dude!

October 18, 2012 at 1:23 pm

Thanks for sharing. As noted...getting to the root issue is key, which leads to self-awareness. Self-awareness is the most important gift you can give yourself. Knowing ourselves in context within the world around us is foundational to understanding, controlling, changing or letting go our emotions, which leads to happiness. This area is a passion of mine and have been working to productize a service for the masses, to help people understand themselves better, through the eyes of their peers, then do something about it.

October 17, 2012 at 1:42 pm

It seems to me that you are trying too hard under others rules and standards, fit a mold?

warning - I'm the biggest weirdo I know 😀

Who said how business success is measured? What if the success that Appsumo's is measured on the impact that makes on individuals instead of money in the bank? the workspace is happier, why not making about quality of life?

I can totally relate to not being like the next door guy, "friends" or even my brothers.

Yes "friends" , who I been taking as friends? are they people that I matter to or are just to take and take? I have only experienced the latter. How about you?

Pay attention to what you care about, what you are passionate, if you have not realized what it is for you, meet as many people as you can and see which of these interactions makes you happy but always be you in control.

One thing I have noticed of successful people that go through depression is that there is no spark, no challenge anymore and if that is the case, why not start all over? I'm not saying to go broke or run away from AppSumo but what about letting go enough to make it challenging again.... maybe a challenge could be is getting on different model of businesses from zero to successful and sell the blueprint in AppSumo. Or maybe, the AppSumo makeover division where a subject is picked and adviced as much to hit the ground running... maybe your twist to techstars y combinator but the sumo way?

I don't know, you know where you are at on what you have tried.

If you don't swim against the current, you can't ride and enjoy the biggest wave.
cheezzzy but you get the picture 😀

Hustle hard bro. Much love.

October 17, 2012 at 9:43 am

you are such a gift; you generate happiness all over 🙂
breathing well is good for health & happiness, too.

Aaron Wulf
October 17, 2012 at 9:27 am


If you are ever feeling down, and you need someone to fulfill #34 for you, don't ever hesitate to reach out to me.

No matter where I am in the world, I will happily cheer you up and reiterate why you are truly awesome.

Big hug, hombre. Keep up the great work!
Aaron 🙂

October 17, 2012 at 8:46 am

This post has PERFECT timing for me. Thanks for all of the hotlinks, too! I would add one item to the list, perhaps it could be #13B. Yesterday I had a big, dumb grin on my face after watching a few Muppets clips on YouTube. Can't go wrong with Animal, Gonzo, Beaker & Bunson, the Swedish Chef and the rest of them. And the guests they had on the TV show were as good as any SNL guest list.

I've also been reading a book that I recommend to anyone in a funk with regard to life, work, relationships, whatever:
"Mojo: How to Get It, How to Keep It, How to Get It Back If You Lose It" by Marshall Goldsmith. I found it on the bargain table at BN and snatched it up for <$8. I'm really enjoying finding my way back to my lost mojo.
Thanks again for the timely post!

October 17, 2012 at 7:50 am

Thanks for the list Noah!

In my (humble) experience, the smarter and more driven someone is, the more likely they are to experience crashes like the one you described. It's like bipolar disorder (without the mental illness) - you have all the energy, the optimism, the lack of need for sleep, the almost grandiose self belief but the stress and the work builds on itself, until there that one small thing causes the card tower to tumble. Then the depressive symptoms set in - the lethargy, the pessimism, the straight up can't-be-botheredness. It seems to happen to people who are striving for something, motivated and constantly busy. The people that work 9-5 in a job they don't enjoy - they stay at their status quo.

What pulls me out of the slump is an indulgence day - planned a couple of days in advance - my best friends, good food and doing something I always meant to do but never quite got around to. In the days before Indulgence Day, I look at my to do list, and get rid of as much as I can. I think a lot, and reflect on what I have done well recently, as well as the aspects of my life - family, friends, work, wealth and health - trying to work out where things are lacking.

The day after Indulgence Day, I feel like I have given myself a metaphorical pat on the back, and I can take on the world again.

October 17, 2012 at 6:14 am

Good post and subject. Always hard to stay positive while leading to something grander

October 17, 2012 at 6:08 am

Reading this just totally made my day! Thanks!

Arik Ermshaus
October 17, 2012 at 5:31 am

I'm happy to be alive because I can feel happiness. And that's worth it.

October 16, 2012 at 10:54 pm

I am grateful to be alive because I got called out with a nod six months ago. Six months ago I saw a guy at a coffee shop wearing a shirt that said "Wantrepeneur." I was intrigued and asked, "what's that about?" After a brief description and conversation with a smiling extrovert I was asked for my email to talk more about it. A voice said with a nod to his partner, "Don't worry about it, I'll remember it." I looked at the voice and realized what he was really saying, "this guy isn't ready, and isn't what we're looking for." It was a hard thing to see, but he was right. I recognized in that moment that I had shown myself for where I really was: a discontented person who had looked everywhere except to the one person that mattered most for the truth…himself. I don't recall the name but it was a 9th cent Chinese philosopher that said, "If you seek the truth outside yourself it will only get farther and farther away." I was angry to be working where I was; I was angry for seeing this smug man, as I then perceived him, telling me I didn't make the cut; I was angry that life hadn't gone the way I thought it should have. I was looking all around me, but not within for an answer as to why this was. I have travelled the world, have lived abroad and have had life experiences of which people could only dream. You see I thought I was more than the average Jo, yet here was someone essentially telling me I was no different from any other schmo. All I was left with was one sorry realization: missed opportunity to grow. And no-one to point the finger at except myself. So you ask what am I grateful for? I'll tell you. I am grateful for a nod that burned in my memory never to be forgotten. I am grateful that one man staying true to his mission, and in doing so held up a mirror, helped me begin to stay true to mine. I am grateful that every time I think of quitting I'll have the nod to bring me back to the man responsible: me. Perhaps this man doesn't realize what a great service he provided that day. Perhaps he was too busy getting ready for a video shoot to notice. For what its worth I imagine now, six months later, he may realize that he has helped another take action. Amazing what a good taco can do (El Tacorrido on S. 1st for dinner). Veritas liberabit vos...and yeah it certainly can piss you off. Yet I am grateful for it.

Andrew Hull
October 16, 2012 at 9:29 pm

Thanks for the awesome read! The laughing yoga made my night, your course has brought me a lot of good in my life so keep it up man. You motivate me to be a better businessman and a all around better person so thank you for being just plain ole AWESOME!

The Heasman
October 16, 2012 at 7:01 pm

Hey Noah,

First time commenter and all I have to say is:

Thanks, I needed this.

Ryan Vaughn
October 16, 2012 at 5:59 pm

Great insight here, and perfect timing. I was depressed today (I can tell because my fingernails are chewed), and then I saw an old guy trying to merge onto the freeway with his mouth open (inexplicably), and I couldn't stop smiling.

Then I read your article and learned that I'm not the only one.



Jose Lugo Jr
October 16, 2012 at 5:56 pm


As someone who has battled depression for a long time I want to thank you for publishing this post. When I get into a low I read a few quotes by Soichiro Honda, pop my Senheisher earbuds in, turn on some music and just walk with no real destination. Sometimes allowing yourself to zone out and internalize your emotions is a great way to let the tears out.

Soichiro Honda once said "I don’t regret the thousands of times I came home empty-handed, having lost all my ammunition and bait. When the days get as gloomy as that, then you know you will soon find the treasure… "

I hope you find the balance you are looking for.

- Jose

October 16, 2012 at 5:27 pm

Thank you for sharing. This is the second post I've read of yours that have reflected my feelings exactly. From the outside looking in my life seems great to others so I feel guilty on top of my depression.

I haven't wanted to admit how depressed I was until it has caught up to me on the job.

Again, thank you for being so open.

February Homie
October 16, 2012 at 4:10 pm

The question of my life..why am I happy to be alive? First off, I feel very blessed. You would think that life is going so well for me right now, I probably don't even have the right to be feeling down. So why have I been an annoying emo person lately? Who the f*** knows!! Its been a constant battle with my brain to maintain thoughts of happiness in life. The brain is such a powerful tool, but sometime it takes control and becomes a bad weapon fighting against us. When my brain decides to be in the "life is so hopeless" mood where nothing in life matters, its such a horrible feeling, and I can't shut the damn thing off! It would be easier if I could succumb to my brain and just let it take over or shoot it so it would shut the f*** up, but thoughts like that just makes me get angry at myself for feeling so weak. Because my brain is my problem, it's not fair for my husband to deal with this s***. I'm not always successful everyday, but I try my best. For now all I can do is tell myself one day at a time, I'm going to be actively happy today so screw you depression.

October 16, 2012 at 3:49 pm

One of the best accounts I've ever read about Depression, which directly ties into vocation, our purpose, and our happiness is by Parker J Palmer, who wrote "Let Your Life Speak." I've given away at least six copies of this book and immediately asked him to become my mentor after my eighth read of the book. I like your list and I have one of my own which is equally personal, hilarious, and helps me find a more "life-giving" state of mind. Your list (and mine) are like our toolbox, a metaphor I use for everything and anything that I use in my life to make me feel better, happier, or more powerful than whatever negative feeling I'm feeling at the time.

One of the things Parker talks about is looking at our emotional terrain and feelings like seasonal weather patterns, that we can choose to look at both the good and the bad feelings as seasonal, fleeting, and that at some point in time, they'll either improve or get worse. Like a storm has to stop sometime or another. And a rainbow can't last forever. I guess for me, it was helpful because it brought a lightness to the feelings I was feeling at the time - a dull ache that felt heavy, kinda like a cloud overhead that didn't go away. It just brought a little bit of hope to a situation that can sometime feel hopeless (even though it's not) and I remember thinking, "I like this dude and how he thinks very much."

I published me entire interview with Parker in a magazine I publish, along with a bunch of others specifically on depression, loneliness vs. aloneness, grief, sadness. If you want the story, holler and I'll send it over.

Anyhoo, I appreciate you posting this, I appreciate you getting personal and posting your happy list (don't think you called it that) and more importantly, know that you're not alone in this.

October 16, 2012 at 3:21 pm

During a very contentious divorce over the last year and fighting for custody of my infant daughter, this is a list I go to regularly when I feel myself out of whack or overwhelmed. I keep it in Evernote for easy access. These questions and activities allows me to be objective. I do play guitar so playing Hank Sr. Songs may not work for everybody but you can always sing along! If needed I always recommend counseling. It's usually a great resource to get perspective as needed.

1. How much sleep have you had?
2. Have you eaten?
3. When was the last time you worked out?
4. The feeling is temporary. Just see if you can survive it.  It will pass
5. Pick up the guitar and sing a Hank song. 
6. If possible get out into public. 
7. Start with cleaning one thing and see if you can move to the next. 

Joshua NYC
October 16, 2012 at 2:17 pm

"Your impulsivity is a gift - impulses are your key to the miraculous. Your distractibility is an artifact of your inspired creativity. Your mood swings reflect the natural pulse of life, they give you unstoppable energy when you're high and deep soulful insight when you're low..." - ?Garret John LoPorto?

I noticed that everyone was vying for your attention, trying to get advice on how to swap shitty shit for shitty shit etc. It must be spiritually draining…

I say stick to what you already know. Get back to your roots, like when you were building Appsumo alone, without everyone else's opinion. They're confusing you. Noah, you are the genius.

Listen to that intuitive urge inside you. You're doing great Chief. We all make mistakes (some worse than others~). Ups and downs... ups and downs. I'm recovering from a pretty epic low myself.

October 16, 2012 at 2:07 pm

What's great here is telling the other half (or more) of running your business/life. Without a set career track, it's easy to become depressed: time seems to go faster, progress comes slower, and anxiety seems ever-present.

Weirdly, when I reach the absolute max amount of outright self-loathing/depression/worrying/worst-possible-thoughts I stumble upon this peaceful clearing in my mind. A place where it's only me and my decision to keep living. No one else is there. Just me and my choice to continue life or not. At this deepest level, control of my life is my own and that's freeing. Not results or success in life, but the choice of living is my own.

My goal is to find that clearing without going through the dark parts of my mind. Yoga and meditation seems to help. And I grew up with old folks, so can attest to that working.

In all, just thanks for writing this, because I think depression is an almost necessary companion to any sort of path in life.

October 16, 2012 at 2:03 pm

Good post Noah! I hit that kind of a funk/depression/low point a few years ago. One thing that helped me at the time was getting into a new hobby - something to obsess over, something to make myself more interesting, something to keep myself occupied and free my mind. I got into motorcycling at the time, but not just riding (which I love), but also maintaining the bike, cleaning, etc. The best thing about it is if work or your business is the source of pain, this hobby serves as a good distraction, adds balance and in the end, helps you clear your head.

October 16, 2012 at 1:57 pm

I think point 1 that you listed is probably one of the most important (for me at least). Often times the blues are the result of being too self-focused, even if it's 'why don't I feel better?'. Helping others requires that you aren't self-centered because your focus is on them and not your problems. I think it's less about helping others and more about finding a way of ensuring that you're regularly helping others.

For me it's also knowing that no matter what I do in life, good or bad, my wife loves me. It brings a real sense of security. I don't think this has to be a husband / wife, but it is for me.

Jason Tugman
October 16, 2012 at 1:56 pm

When you are in the heart of the storm is it extremely hard to mentally uplift yourself. Some days your mind is streaming at you 'just go for a walk!' but there is another part of you,however small and unacknowledged, that craves the misery.

For me, I've found even just recognizing this within myself helps. Sometimes I'll even allow it and, through that, control it.

It truly is amazing how food changes everything. Food has literally changed my life.

I replaced soda (64oz min per day) with tea. Afternoon candy/snack for 2 spoonfuls of organic honey or a handful of chocolate covered Acai berries (talk about an energy high!). I also replaced my no-breakfast with juice (started with Odwalla I now juice fresh fruits whenever I can), organic yogurt (farmers markets ftw) and a granola bar (usually eaten in my car on my commute).

Doing these very small things - admittedly giving up soda was a major investment in self-discipline. can make huge changes within yourself.

My friends will sometimes say to me 'next week I'm going to start working out and go on a diet'. I tell them forget the diet; just workout. When you do healthy, physical activity your body will naturally crave/need/cryout for healthy food. Start with physical activity and the healthy diet will follow.

October 16, 2012 at 1:54 pm

It makes me feel better to know that the other startup rock stars feel down in the dumps sometimes too. For clarity I recommend a sailing trip with at least 10 days at sea ( no land in sight ). You'll have lots of time to synthesize the piles and piles of thoughts and experiences you've accumulated. Watch out for flying fish, breaching whales, and make sure to jump from the spreaders naked when crossing the equator.

October 16, 2012 at 1:30 pm

great and honest post, noah.

i'm happy to be alive because of all the awesome connections i have and create with people every day. all the relationships i've made and all the ones that are still waiting to be made.

i think this is one of the keys for me - the human connection. Smile at people! Acknowledge the humans around you. Say hi - and then great things will happen.

two more things: i think giving is really key. serving others leads to others serving you. when you give, people want to give back. it works great.
and i often don't think in terms of "knowing who i am," but in knowing who i want to create as myself. knowing what i want to stand for. i am fluid. i can be anything. we have the power to be whoever we want. don't look back, look forward.

🙂 shine on son.

October 16, 2012 at 1:27 pm

This is a great list, but I feel it's missing one: therapy. It's weird how little this is brought up or addressed in startup-land. Being an entrepreneur/start-upper is often fertile ground for things like depression, anxiety, add/adhd and they should all be taken seriously. I'm a big fan of deductive reasoning, and (IMO) there's no way to rule out the need for medical attention unless it's been ruled out by a doctor. It's not uncommon for our industry to pride ourselves on being "crazy" or doing things that are detrimental to our mental states (no sleep, overworked, massive stress, inconsistent schedule, etc). Unfortunately, loving what you do doesn't mean damage isn't being done. I can only speak from personal experience, but reaching out to external help to keep your brain *healthy* has been incredibly helpful and I would recommend it to anyone.

October 16, 2012 at 1:24 pm

Sick list Noah. I am going to get high now. Thanks for the permission =D


Noah Kagan
October 16, 2012 at 1:27 pm

Haha. Anytime. Glad I can be a positive influence.

October 16, 2012 at 1:20 pm

Thanks for the openness. This is great.

I think I might go steal someone's parking spot;)

Brian B
October 16, 2012 at 1:18 pm

brother, if you ever need to, text me. you've got my # always happy to lend an ear. hugs - B

Noah Kagan
October 16, 2012 at 1:27 pm

Thanks Brian. I'm good. Just some solid me-time is what I need.