Cheer Up, Matt Barkley. Things Could Be Worse.

Tips for the Eagles' rookie QB whose NFL debut on Sunday was an unqualified disaster. (They'll work for your bad days, too.)

Matt Barkley throws a pass against Dallas.

I watched Sunday’s Eagles game and I felt bad.  Not for Chip Kelly or for Nick Foles or Michael Vick.  I felt particularly bad for Matt Barkley.

What a disaster.  His NFL debut.  I’m sure his entire family was watching.  And he throws three interceptions in nine minutes.  Four actually, but one was called back due to a penalty.  Of course there were circumstances that led to this, like throwing a rookie into a tough situation and forcing him to make long passes because his team was down late in the game.  But no one, Barkley included, was making excuses.  This was his big moment.  And it sucked.

To his credit, he handled the situation like a gent afterwards. And no one’s really picking on him either.  Say what you want, but Barkley is still just a kid. He’s had success all his life. We all suspect he’ll continue to have success and make the big bucks. But he had to be pretty blue Sunday night.  Maybe he still is.

I’m no Matt Barkley, but I run a business and there are times when things suck.  We all get this way. So what do you do when you’re really down in the dumps?  Some people deal with failure better than others.  What do they do?  One thing is to always remember that things are never as bad as they seem (of course they’re also never as good as they seem).  I’ve also got some ideas that I hope will help Matt.  And maybe you as well.

Change your state

The motivational speaker Tony Robbins has been giving this advice for years.  If you’re in a rut or feeling down then get out.  Go away.  Completely change your environment.  I’m not saying you have to get on a plane to Hawaii, although that’s not a bad idea either.  At the very least, drop what you’re doing, cancel your appointments, clear your schedule and get out.  Drive somewhere else.  Take a long walk.  Go to the batting cages.  See a movie.  Barkley should get out of town for a day and do something completely unrelated to football.  It clears your head.  It puts distance between you and your so-called problems. It helps you think. It distracts.

Make a list

I do this whenever I feel like the world sucks.  I make a list of all the things that suck right now.  I keep this list in the notebook I carry with me (yes, I carry a notebook because I was born before 1975).  This may sound too simple but it’s pretty powerful, at least for me.  There’s something therapeutic about writing down all of your terrible problems.  It’s almost as if by writing them down you’re doing something about them.  And what’s interesting is that if you look back at that list a few weeks later, those problems seem much less substantial.  In fact, most of them probably resolved themselves … and here you still are.  Time doesn’t just heal; it completely changes your perspective.

Go to Shorpy

I love this website.  It’s an archive of very old photos that have been digitally updated.  Want to put your problems into perspective?  Look at this photo.  And this one.  And this one too.  These people were living their lives in Philadelphia about a hundred years ago.  And they don’t look very much different than we do today.  Because they’re not.  Except that… they’re all dead.  These people had good days and days when they felt like Matt Barkley feels. At the time their problems were super important, right?  They struggled and battled and had successes and failures.  But…they’re all dead.  It really didn’t matter that much did it?  Do you know any of these people?  Do you know what their problems were?  Do you really care, a hundred years later?  Thought not.  No one will care that Matt Barkley had a bad day on October 20, 2013, a hundred years from now.  Frankly, no one really cares that much now.

There are other quick fixes to the blues I can suggest:

  • For example, watch Good Day Philadelphia because Mike Jerrick is genuinely hilarious,
  • Or take in a Flyers game… they’re also hilarious to watch.
  • Go to YouTube and watch Brad Lidge’s final pitch in Game 5,
  • Or this month’s latest fails,
  • Or Jim Gaffigan talking about Hot Pockets (other than that, stay completely away from the Internet, particularly if you’re Matt Barkley).
  • Now that Modern Family is in syndication, watch five episodes in a row.
  • Visit the S.P.C.A. on Allegheny Avenue and check out the puppies.
  • If you’re a sports star like Barkley or at least have the opportunity, go and speak to some kids at a school.  Imagine the reaction if Matt Barkley called the principal of Overbrook High and asked to make an impromptu visit and speak to some high schoolers about how they can succeed.  The kids will get a thrill and he’ll walk out of there feeling like a million bucks… and he should.

In the end, our problems ultimately wind up resolving themselves.  It takes time.  It’s not fun.  But, barring anything life threatening, life goes on.  Some people deal with the blues better than others.  They don’t look back.  They don’t dwell.   They’re able to compartmentalize.  They see the big picture, the road ahead, the longer term.  More importantly, they have perspective and don’t take themselves, or their stupid little lives, too seriously.  There are a billion people in India who have never heard of Matt Barkley.  Up until a few weeks ago, neither had I. Hopefully Barkley will get his chance to redeem himself.  And I hope he does great.  But in the end, whether it’s football, business or today’s problems, few things are really that big a deal.  Have fun Matt–you’re life’s pretty damn good.