In this post, I’ve tried to explain the factors that determine our current mood by using the analogy of a weighing scale. The two sides of this scale represent good and bad mood.
We keep fluctuating from one side to the other all our life but I want to explain to you how this process happens so that you acquire some degree of control over it. What side our scale goes depends on what life experiences we encounter and (more importantly) how we deal with them. While you may have no control over what life throws at you, you have full control over how you respond.
Before I tell you the story of Jason I want to throw light on one very important fact about moods in general:
Your current mood is the resultant mood of the sum total of all the life experiences that you’ve been through up until this moment.
Life experiences can either make you feel good or bad and of course, that depends on how you interpret them. Individual life experiences usually don’t have much power to swing your mood (unless they are big) but it is their combined and cumulative effect that causes your mood to swing.
Here’s a list of Jason’s recent life experiences, starting from the major ones to minor ones- He got fired from his job, he had a big fight with his wife, he had gained a few pounds ever since he stopped exercising, he was fed up with his smoking habit and worried
about the consequences of not quitting it, last night while driving home his car broke down and he didn’t get it fixed yet, earlier this morning he had decided to clean up his apartment but it’s almost noon now and he hasn’t done anything.
No wonder, he’s feeling like crap right now. His mood has hit an all-time low. Let’s say he won a baseball game last week but that single positive event won’t be helpful in improving his mood.
In all this doom and gloom, Jason suddenly had a moment of insight. He remembered the time when his life was perfect and he hardly faced any problem. How wonderful he felt then! He finally realized that unless he solves his problems he isn’t going to feel any better. So he started to solve his problems one by one starting with the easy ones.
First, he cleaned up his messy apartment. His bad mood became less intense. Once he was done with that, he immediately called a mechanic and got his car fixed. His bad mood lessened further. After that, he read a few articles on the internet about how to quit smoking and wrote down a month-long plan to quit smoking. At this point, his bad mood greatly reduced to the point that he was almost feeling neutral- neither good nor bad.
His gaze suddenly fell on the mirror and he remembered the extra pounds that he had recently gained. He went for a half-an-hour run immediately. When he returned home, boy he felt good. He was surprised at how he had gone from feeling broken earlier during the day to feeling so much better now.
“I have set so many things straight today”, he thought, “why not patch up with my wife too?” He replayed the fight in his mind and realized that it was entirely his own fault. He had lost temper way too quickly because of getting fired from the job. He was just releasing his frustration
on to his wife. He decided that he would apologize and sort it out with her as soon she returned from work.
He then made a plan to find to find another job- a task that he was procrastinating on for too long because of believing that his previous company would call him back. By now, he was feeling like a million bucks!
Bad mood is just a warning
What I described above is just one example of a person who learned how to overcome his moods by understanding them. Every day, millions of people suffer terrible mood swings and they have no idea know what to do about them because they don’t understand what’s going on.
A very important thing to note in this whole scenario is this- you don’t necessarily have to solve all your problems immediately in order to feel good.
Note that Jason didn’t get a new job yet nor did he patch-up with his wife yet. Also, he had only figured out a possible solution to his smoking habit that he planned to apply but didn’t apply yet. Still, he felt great because he planned to solve these problems in the near future. So his mind felt re-assured and considered it unimportant to warn Jason any more by making him feel bad.
What side is your scale tipped to right now?