TODAY   |  November 09, 2010

Banishing the holiday blues

Peak-performance strategist Tony Robbins offers insightful advice for taking the stress out of the holidays and confronting the high expectations that often accompany the yuletide season.

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This content comes from a Full-Text Transcript of the program.

ANN CURRY, anchor: For many, social expectations, family dynamics and financial concerns make for a stressful holiday season . But we've got peak performance strategist Tony Robbins in the house, and he's got some tips for beating the blues. Tony , good morning.

Mr. TONY ROBBINS (Peak Performance Strategist): Good morning. Good to see you.

CURRY: Not to mention the holidays, we've got so much else going on in these days. And it's nice to see you now here at this moment as this nation is dealing with so many worries.

Mr. ROBBINS: Oh, with 15 million people really, you know, out of work, and it's a lot more than that when you look at the people that are underemployed, and all the emotional stress that happens. But it gets magnified in the holidays. At the holidays, two-thirds of women report feelings of depression. I mean, those are the most amazing statistics I've ever seen.

CURRY: So what's your best advice, then, for helping people stay positive, be uplifted and even happy in difficult times?

Mr. ROBBINS: Well, I think it's understanding what the source is. And people say the blues, it's two emotions. It's either stress or it's that sadness. And they're both coming from expectations. You said it.


Mr. ROBBINS: People -- we all have a story about how life is supposed to be.

CURRY: Mm-hmm.

Mr. ROBBINS: And how you're supposed to treat me, how my family's supposed to be, where we're supposed to be financially. And when that matches, we feel really happy. And when it doesn't, we feel either stressed or we feel sad. And so the first thing you got to do, as corny as it sounds, is you got to get real and you got to stay real with what's really going on. We've had such inflated expectations of how our life should be based on effort, and we're in a new season and it requires us to adapt.


Mr. ROBBINS: And partly I just, like, get perspective by knowing half the planet lives on $2 a day, and we forget that. So whatever problem you're dealing with, no matter how severe it may be, maybe it's time to sit the kids down and go, 'This is what the holiday season 's about. It's about giving thanks, it's not about eating turkey and getting gifts.' Or maybe it's time to look -- my mother-in-law, instead of being stressed, she's never going to change, and neither are you in your nature. So maybe you could have some fun with it, you know? So that's one. The second thing is use the environment around you. People forget the power of things like movement and music . Research and science shows now people go to change the way they feel by eating and they do it by drugs. But physical movement, change. For example, depression has a tempo. When somebody's real excited they talk at a certain tempo and their voice is a certain way. When somebody's depressed, they...

CURRY: Yes, exactly right.

Mr. ROBBINS: a little different. Their shoulders drop, their body drops. So simple things like saying, 'I'm going to work out three times a week. I'm going to run, I'm going to sprint, I'm going to lift, I'm going to do something I would never normally do to create that strength.'

CURRY: Or just take a walk outside.

Mr. ROBBINS: Or music .

CURRY: Music .

Mr. ROBBINS: Because music moves us. We all know it, but -- you know, earlier if people were watching, they saw Jackie here.

CURRY: Jackie Evancho.

Mr. ROBBINS: You know, everybody's kind of tearing up. You got to pick the music , though.


Mr. ROBBINS: Some music is kind of an anchor for you, and the holidays, it'll make you sad. Some music will uplift you. So you got to say, 'What's going to drive me?' I mean, I had some friends that went to the original "Titanic" opening, and then about three weeks later they were sad all the time. I said, 'What's going on with you?' And I kind of dug in, I found out they were listening to the CD every day on the way to work.

CURRY: Hm. Hm.

Mr. ROBBINS: You know, experiencing the death over again. Pick the music . Last, most importantly, I think, you got to not just be grateful, you got to

act on your gratitude. You got to......and say, 'What am I grateful for and who am I grateful for?' and tell them because that creates a cycle of connection with people. And then my personal belief, the reason I really wanted to come on the show here is this is a season where people need hope. And with all these people that are out of work, it's never been worse in the United States , at least not in 80 years, and this is a time where my -- I was affected by the third principle. My family, when I was 11 years old, we had no money, no food, and somebody came -- I still don't know who it is to this day, but changed my entire life -- they delivered a turkey, unexpected, a meal for us, and it just gave us hope and it made us think strangers really care. And it shifted me. It didn't just feed us -- you know, corny as it sounds, it fed our souls, still affects me to this day. So when I was 17...

CURRY: That one event?

Mr. ROBBINS: That one event. When I was 17, I said, 'I got to do this for two families.' And then next year it was four, and then it's eight, and then I got my companies involved and, you know, 33 years later now we feed two million people in 35 countries. So anybody watching, anybody out there, if you're in the toughest time of your life , the last thing you usually think to do is help somebody else worse off. But there's nothing that'll wake up your soul more than to remind you, A, I got it better than I think; and B, I'm made for giving, not just for getting or receiving or making things happen. So if they go to, there's a link to my foundation. And you can do this with no money, you can just deliver food, or you can build a basket, bring your kids and do it. I brought my kids when they're five and six years old, my youngest boy's now 26, and to this day he's hooked on contribution. It's part of his life.

CURRY: So you're saying really that what makes us happy is to have meaning in our lives. It's not stuff. But, you know, when you -- when you -- when you're, you know, struggling because you haven't had a job in months...


CURRY: ...when you -- when you can't pay your mortgage and you're facing foreclosure and you're under so much stress from that...

Mr. ROBBINS: Yeah.

CURRY: it -- is saying to people, 'Listen to nice music and take a walk and maybe do something for somebody else,' do you really think for those people that can give them...

Mr. ROBBINS: No, you can't just take a walk. You got to get physical. You got to -- you got to feed your mind -- I mean, I've been in this place. I was homeless, I was sleeping on the street, then I slept in a 1968 Volkswagen , I was six foot two at the time, in a trench coat I got at the thrift store. I'm not talking about some guy who just, like, 'Here's what you guys should do.' I went -- in those days -- I'm ancient enough to remember the library. So I went to the library and I fed my mind by reading biographies of people. Because if you don't feed your mind, what's going to be there is not going to serve you. So I had to do that. I worked out like a banshee. I didn't understand what that was going to do. And I just, I was fat, and I finally got so mad I did it. But when you work out, there's something that turns on in you physically, a different level of determination, a different level of energy. Then I went to look for some role models. Who the hell's been screwed up like me and turned it around? And there are many people right now out of work, but there are many that were out of work that aren't, and figuring out where that is. So I'm saying to people back at home, I'm not saying this in a light way, I'm saying all the rest of us , the 85 percent of us, 90 percent of us with jobs, to much that's given, much is expected. Let's go take this Thanksgiving and give something back, just a little, for people.


Mr. ROBBINS: And for those that aren't, you can still give. It'll change your life.

CURRY: Tony Robbins , thank you so much this morning.