7 Ways to Keep Your Spirit Up in a Down Economy

I’ve met with several key business leaders in the last few weeks. To a person, they say their greatest challenge is staying encouraged. With the economy the way it is—and no end in sight—it is difficult for leaders to remain optimistic.

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/fpm, Image #3013231

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/fpm

But this has always been the challenge of leadership. You must lead yourself before you can lead others. It’s that simple. If you can learn to do that, especially in this environment, you will have developed a skill that will serve you for life.

How can you keep your spirits up in a down economy? Here are seven suggestions:

  1. Turn off the news media. Turn off the TV. Turn off the radio. They are no longer reporting on the problem; they are the problem. The relentless torrent of bad news only makes people—including you—more discouraged and less confident about the future.
  2. Connect with God. You were not created to function without a connection to God. He is the ultimate encouragement. Trying to navigate life without him is like trying to ride a motorcycle without starting the engine. You can do it, but it only works downhill. Unfortunately, a lot of life is uphill. The way I connect is by reading a passage from the Bible and praying on my commute to work.
  3. Read inspirational books. It’s not enough to turn off the flow of garbage into your brain, you need to replace it with something positive. You need a vivid reminder that people have gone through tough times before. They have not only survived but thrived. If you don’t know where else to start, read a good history book like 1776 by David McCullough or a good inspirational book like The Traveler’s Gift [affiliate link] by Andy Andrews.
  4. Hang around positive people. This sounds harsh, but you cannot afford to be around negative people—especially those that refuse to change. The problem is that these people are highly infectious. And their disease is deadly. If you don’t avoid them, you will become like them. Instead, intentionally seek out and befriend positive people. Their attitude is contagious, too.
  5. Exercise regularly. This is one of the most important things you can do to keep your spirit up. It’s hard to feel good about life when you feel badly about yourself. When I exercise, I always feel a little proud of myself (in a good sense). I think, I took initiative. I was proactive. Life is full of possibilities! The release of endorphin’s also has a measurable, positive impact on your brain and on your thinking.
  6. Get more rest. It’s almost impossible to stay upbeat if you are tired. You can’t light up a room if your batteries are drained. Therefore, it is important to know exactly how much rest you need and make it a priority. If you are like me, I often confuse discouragement with being weary. But it’s amazing how much brighter things look after a good night’s sleep!
  7. Go to church. When I get discouraged, I am tempted to isolate myself and retreat from the world. But this is exactly the opposite of what I need to do. All of us need a caring community of people who will love us for who we are, not what we do. We also need to be reminded that there is a purpose to our lives and to our circumstances. Nothing is happening by accident. It is all intended for our good. Church provides both of these opportunities.

Leading yourself is easy when things are going well. It pretty much takes care of itself. But when the external environment is negative, it takes work. But this is the leaders most important work. Without it, you won’t be much use to anyone else.

What are you doing to keep your spirits up?
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  • http://www.kevinalanwells.com/ Kevin Alan Wells

    Good list. One more from my experience:

    #8, Be so poor already that the economic downturn only makes you feel like you suddenly have more friends.

  • http://www.kevinalanwells.com Kevin Alan Wells

    Good list. One more from my experience:

    #8, Be so poor already that the economic downturn only makes you feel like you suddenly have more friends.

    • Andrew

      But when the economy is good again, you suddenly don’t have friends anymore!

  • http://familyupdate-drock76.blogspot.com/ Derek_D_Roberts

    Thanks Mr. Hyatt. That was very inspiring. I have also enjoyed your conversations with human3error

  • http://familyupdate-drock76.blogspot.com/ Derek_D_Roberts

    Thanks Mr. Hyatt. That was very inspiring. I have also enjoyed your conversations with human3error

  • http://www.tucsoncowgirl.com/ Monica Surfaro

    Being productive and respectful each day in the three cores of mind, body and spirit give me a sense of accomplishment. For the mind – I make sure to learn something worthwhile and complete one writing project. For the body – I walk, try to eat right and respect the physical presence I am responsible for. For the spirit — I connect with those I love, my husband and son, I take in the gorgeous desert surroundings and sending blessings out to nature and the spiritual context that nutures me. Little by little, each of us will build the positive space that will grow and grow to others. Thank you for a worthwhile post, Michael.

  • http://www.tucsoncowgirl.com/ Monica Surfaro

    Being productive and respectful each day in the three cores of mind, body and spirit give me a sense of accomplishment. For the mind – I make sure to learn something worthwhile and complete one writing project. For the body – I walk, try to eat right and respect the physical presence I am responsible for. For the spirit — I connect with those I love, my husband and son, I take in the gorgeous desert surroundings and sending blessings out to nature and the spiritual context that nutures me. Little by little, each of us will build the positive space that will grow and grow to others. Thank you for a worthwhile post, Michael.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/christiemcqueen christiemcqueen

    I admire that you stress the importance of going to church and connecting with God in these tough times. In all times, but especially in tough times, we can find strength in His power – when we are weak He is strong.
    Thank you for the post, Michael.
    Christie McQueen
    http:http://www.ModerneCaptureStudios.com

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/christiemcqueen christiemcqueen

    I admire that you stress the importance of going to church and connecting with God in these tough times. In all times, but especially in tough times, we can find strength in His power – when we are weak He is strong.
    Thank you for the post, Michael.
    Christie McQueen
    http: <a href="http://www.ModerneCaptureStudios.com” target=”_blank”>www.ModerneCaptureStudios.com

  • http://www.pleaseread.org/ Sarnaa

    Great list. Although, since I've been back in the U.S. it's been difficult for me to do #7 because most people are interested in my mission field, and the #1 question…"When are you headed back?" or invitations to speak or teach. This is great, I'm not complaining, but it's rare when someone asks about me personally. I usually end up asking them how they're doing. I think it's because I want them to ask me the question back.

    However, thats when all the other one's come in handy. Thanks for the list, i'm sharing this one with my posse!

  • http://www.pleaseread.org Sarnaa

    Great list. Although, since I've been back in the U.S. it's been difficult for me to do #7 because most people are interested in my mission field, and the #1 question…"When are you headed back?" or invitations to speak or teach. This is great, I'm not complaining, but it's rare when someone asks about me personally. I usually end up asking them how they're doing. I think it's because I want them to ask me the question back.

    However, thats when all the other one's come in handy. Thanks for the list, i'm sharing this one with my posse!

  • varun jain

    thanks Mr. hyatt. i learn a lot from this article.

  • varun jain

    thanks Mr. hyatt. i learn a lot from this article.

  • Dave

    Thank you for linking to this, Michael! Timely, and well stated. It was the gentle slap-upside-the-head I needed today!

  • Dave

    Thank you for linking to this, Michael! Timely, and well stated. It was the gentle slap-upside-the-head I needed today!

  • J Matthews

    Michael – I am encouraged by reading your twitter feed and blog posts. I find your list of 7 things to resonate with me. I appreciate the transparency in which you share your thoughts and beliefs.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Thank you very much!

  • J Matthews

    Michael – I am encouraged by reading your twitter feed and blog posts. I find your list of 7 things to resonate with me. I appreciate the transparency in which you share your thoughts and beliefs.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Thank you very much!

  • http://www.LandedGentryBlog.com Brian Gentry

    Great thoughts. I find leading ones self is the hardest part of leadership. We have to be deliberate and disciplined about taking care of ourselves so we can be prepared to care for others.

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  • http://www.embracepositivepassion.com Georgiana

    Surrounding yourself with positive people and reading the Bible and inspirational books produces a positive outlook on life. Personally I journal encouraging poetry to help and uplift people in this world by Embracing Positive Passion! :-)

  • http://www.writetoincite.com Michele Dortch

    One thing I do more often now is SMILE and LAUGH often (through tough times and good). Life is too short to wear a frown or grimace on your face all day long.

  • LauraGina

    Thank you–this article appeared on the right day. I am surrounded by psychic vampires and screaming squirrels at my workplace, it’s raining (AGAIN) and I have $2 left in my checking account until payday this Thursday. Today was a crappy day. I’ll remember this article when I get discouraged. I also constantly remind myself that as bad as I think I have it, I’m not lugging 60 pounds of equipment and a weapon, wearing a uniform, sleeping, eating, living in an unforgiving climate, thousands of miles from home and family, defending myself from an enemy that wants to kill me simply because of the country I live in. I can suck it up whatever gets thrown at me.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Good for you. Your attitude is more important than your circumstances. If you remain positive, your circumstances will change. I guarantee it!

  • Ivanhoe Sanchez

    I had always thought that watching the news everyday was a good and necessary, now that I see that tops your list, I will try to let it go and see what are the results.

  • Phyllis Dolislager

    Exactly what we had to do after 9/11. Turn off the news. It got to be too much. These are all great tips, and it’s good to be reminded of them.
    Thanks to your recommendation Ron and I just finished listening to The Noticer when we drove to MI. We’ve also done the Heart Mender. What do you suggest next?

  • Anonymous

    Something My pastor @mikeglenn:disqus
     says is to fill your life with Christ so when life squeezes you Christ comes out and  not garbage. Everytime I do get squeezed Its then I know how time I have had in the Bible.

    Great post. Much needed.

  • http://twitter.com/burlw Burl Walker

    Thanks for tweeting this again! It is as apropos now as it was two years ago!

  • Brian McNeel

    I have been feeling very down and discouraged today. Thank you. I am doing some of these but not all. They make alot of sense. Thank you :-) It lifted me.

  • Ginny Jaques

    Thanks for this encouragement, Michael.  It’s good for all kinds of negative vibes, not just economic ones.  I needed to read this just now.

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  • Kristyludwighair01

    This was so uplifting to read. My husband and I are doing 6 out of the 7. We watch and listen to news which is very depressing.:( Thanks for the great words. God Bless.:)

  • lamy

    thank you for this wonderful article  .

  • James F. Fitzgerald

    I appreciated your advice and want to remember and apply them! In terms of number four I gave that thought and would add this doesn’t mean not facing up to genuine difficulties or living in denial. I think of Churchill here who warned England about the German build up before WWII, but his insights were rejected. Yet, his true optimism wasn’t found in denial of reality, rather in having the courage to face this enemy with the conviction of ultimate victory in the battle that lay ahead.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Excellent point and great example. Thanks.

  • Maisha Guy

    Yes Michael! This is great inspirational information for those of us who is using our faith to stay up in a down economy. Rest is an important step. Thank you for sharing.

  • Deborah H. Bateman

    Michael, thanks for sharing this post. I totally agree with you. Since I have been consciously spending time every day in God’s Word it has really helped improve my spirit. I also have limited the amount of time I watch the news. If you must watch it, watch one episode of it and don’t sit there listening to the news reporter hash it over again and again. Trying to get a good night’s sleep also helps me to deal with things better. It is hard to deal with stress when you are tired. I always find going to church to renew my soul and uplift my spirit. I have recently started back exercising and it does make you feel better, stronger, and glad you did it once you’re done. All of these help to improve our since of well-being. Thanks again for reminding us to include them all in our routines. Blessings