In the mood

It is so uplifting to watch children having fun in a play park. With endless energy, they climb, slide, and ride on whatever is on offer. At a play park, they learn to address their fears, to handle failure, and to build resilience, but mostly they just enjoy having so many friends around to play with. Many activities they can do on their own, but they do need a friend, if they want to play on the seesaw. That friend needs to weigh more or less the same as they do, otherwise one of them will end up being suspended in the air, while the other one is stuck on the ground because the balance is out.

Just like the children on that playground, we ride the seesaw of our mood state every single day. When there is balance, we feel good and life is great, but often it does not take much to drag us down. As David Mitchell said, “Good moods are as fragile as eggs, and bad moods are as fragile as bricks.” When we are in a good mood, we feel blissful, calm, cheerful, content, happy, good, joyful, loving, optimistic, and peaceful. When we are in a bad mood, we feel angry, annoyed, cranky, depressed, frustrated, gloomy, grumpy, irritated, pessimistic, sad, and stressed. Most of us experience many of these emotions on both sides of this spectrum on any given day. That is fine, as long as we are aware of our emotions, and as long as we manage to pull ourselves back and restore the balance when we realize that we are leaning too much into negativity. But if we cannot manage to do that, then a bad mood becomes our natural state of being, and it is not fun for others to be around us.

There is something we need to realize about our moods. They are not fixed. A mood is a temporary state of mind or feeling, unless we make it permanent. We make it permanent when we set up camp in the field of negativity. Once we settle there, though, it will be hard to come up with anything positive that may restore the balance; and when we spend enough time there, it can lead to a general state of depression. We almost literally feel pressed down. To prevent this from happening, it is important to realize that we do not see things the way they are, but rather that we see things the way we are. Our own inner state of being, our mind, the stories we tell ourselves about what is happening on the outside – they are what keeps us trapped there. That is why two people can experience the same situation and react differently to it. One person will be triggered and dragged down by a challenging situation, while the other person manages to remain in balance. It is simply our thinking that tips the scale. We need not live in the feelings of our thinking. We can change our thinking, and when our thinking changes, our feeling changes. It is an inside job. Always.

Life happens, and we have to deal with it. There is no way we can arrange life in such a way that we never have to face people or situations that upset us. It is how we respond to what happens that makes the difference. There is so much happening in the world at the moment that has the potential to drag us down. This is a time to be vigilant and to watch our thoughts. Remember, misery loves company. We should be careful not to be drawn into pessimism and negativity. The general mood out there at the moment is very negative. Let us not put our fingers into the socket. When we catch ourselves feeling mostly angry, annoyed, cranky, depressed, frustrated, gloomy, grumpy, irritated, pessimistic, sad, and stressed, chances are that we have stuck our fingers into a negative socket because we have become too externally focused. Take note of what is happening, but do not set up camp there. Consciously shift the focus to whatever it is that lifts your spirit.

There are several simple things that we can do to lift our mood. Get some fresh air, spend some time in nature, go for a walk, try a new recipe, turn on the music, dance, get a massage, change the screensaver on your phone, look at yourself in the mirror and smile, tidy up the clutter in your space, sniff a lemon or burn a scented citrus candle, let the sunshine in, open the curtains and the blinds, surprise someone, do something kind, make your best friend smile, grab an extra coffee for your colleague, call your mother or your father and say how much you love them, and be grateful for what you have.

There is no such thing as waking up on the wrong side of the bed. Grumpiness is not a virtue, nor should it become a personality trait. If, despite our best efforts, we cannot get our seesaw to tilt towards the positive, it may be advisable to seek professional help, but most of us can do a pretty good DIY job on managing our mood state. All it takes is to keep a close eye on the regulator – our thoughts. In the meantime, take off your shoes and get in the mood: