Tony Robbins on The Real Source of Depression

Tony Robbins. His name is everywhere lately. And particularly, his ideas are present in my daily life. It’s because I’m reading his new book, Money: Master the Game - 7 Steps to Financial Freedom. But beyond that, I am taken by his strong grasp of the mental and emotional factors that help or hurt when you’re trying to take what he calls “massive action”.

His ideas and his strategies are powerful and moving. I love his energy and passion around enabling everyone he can. It’s inspiring.

“Where focus goes, energy flows” -Tony Robbins

In a recent interview with James Altucher on his podcast, Tony talks about the relationship between focus and depression. He believes there are three fundamental mistakes people can make in their patterns of thinking that will make people angry, depressed, sad, or helpless:

  1. Focusing on what you can’t control rather than what you can control.
  2. Focusing on what you don’t have rather than what you do.
  3. Focusing on the past instead of what you can do Now.

Psychologist Michael Hurd, says that in psychology circles depression is defined as “learned helplessness”. It sounds like Tony is echoing that definition and, in his strategic and tactical way, also identifying specific ways that people arrive at learned helplessness.

Tony goes on to say that as individuals, we have to constantly ask ourselves what we can control rather than focusing on the past, or on blame. What solutions and actions are available rather than lamenting why it has to be. It’s okay to be pissed off, and he admits that he is (about the financial crisis of 2008):

“…I’m not willing to buy into the story of ‘Oh my god, they’ve done this to us!!!’ I know that’s true. I know that we’ve been screwed royally… all of us. But to spend my time more on that old story? I’d rather spend my time on the solution. Every great person I know spends 1% of their time on the problem, 99% of their time on the solution.”

I love it. We’re pissed off… we don’t ignore that. But we put our time toward the solutions. We orient ourselves toward action. Sounds to me like the perfect recipe to avoid victimhood and blame and instead focus on action and our abilities as human beings to do amazing things in our lives.

I’m going to paraphrase his words to leave you with a parting thought. Tony says we, as human beings, tend to overestimate what we are able to achieve in a short period of time and they tend to underestimate what we are able to achieve over a long stretch of time such as a couple of decades. This is where I plan to put my money: Relentless self-improvement to deliver the most value to as many people as I can.