'He is in such a great mood today, what happened to him?'
'The mood of the room was solemn after the announcement of the company's restructure.'
'My mood is always down in winter. I feel so controlled by the amount of sunshine there is.'
'This has put me in such a bad mood.'
When you think of mood, what words and adjectives come to mind? Our mood is something we often take for granted until we are pushed to extremes. It could be that something puts us in a really bad mood, like when you hear about a work project that didn't go well, or a mark you received on an assignment wasn't the one you wanted. We are also pushed towards a positive mood when then conversely, go the way we want.
As an English Trainer I have often heard people say they feel affected by the weather. They become glum in the middle of winter and more unfriendly and anti-social compared to the brighter summer months when they feel more alive and refreshed. I didn't notice this as much in Australia as the weather is sunnier for many more months, but here in Europe it appears to be a strong indicator of people's moods.
Similarly has someone ever described you as moody? If so, what behaviours and actions did you exhibit for this to occur?
For me, I was thinking about mood this week as a topic that we don't often discuss and explore that often. I wonder whether our mood can be controlled or whether like the weather it can be predicted but not fully understood. What do you think?
In my previous posts, I have discussed music, energy sources and the effects of considering your goals and routines and I think all of these can have an effect on our mood. These are things that are within us, that we control, but what about external forces? We cannot control external forces, only except for how we respond to them.
Now, I am not here to evangelise about making sure all of your reactions are sunshine and bubbles, because, honestly speaking, sometimes things just suck. Our mood will be down. We will be tired and even exhausted so even trying to complete a novel, write 1000 word essays or even cook dinner, can all seem too much.
When you have these times, what do you do?
I have had a busy couple of weeks, and regularly felt exhausted. I took stock of my mood and realised with tiredness, my energy drops and I am not so good to anyone. It is in these moments, I want to be careful what I say on the phone, to friend or colleagues and especially my family.
From my training with 6 Seconds in Emotional Intelligence, sometimes the smartest thing to do is acknowledge that your mood is different and not where it often is. Something has changed and that is ok. Why? Because a mood good or bad is also temporary and our goal in life should not be to always be outstandingly happy and positive, but to also experience both sides of the mood/emotional coin.
One thing that the positive psychology and self-help cannon doesn't emphasise enough is that we don't always have to be happy. Just as we will be sad and lonely and feel isolated and the weather will affect our mood, but it is also temporary.
For me, one the best remedies is to go to bed early. Like as a kid when we were sick, we were told to go to bed at 6pm or 7pm. As adults 8.30 or 9pm feels guilty, but why not? A couple of nights weeks forget Netflix, put down the latest book by Gary Vaynerchuck and just rest. Let your brain and body stop for a moment and if you are in a bad mood or not feeling yourself, even more the reason to do it.
What is the alternative? We push on, making it harder on ourselves, get less sleep and then try to function. It might also be worth exploring why your are in the bad mood. Not to change it but to understand more about it. Labeling emotions helps them become less, why not label your mood? Become aware and take stock of your feelings and how you got there.
This advice also rings true for others and can be a basis for empathy. If someone else is in a bad mood don't try to cheer them up. Just support them. Give them space and gently help them explore why they got there. If you are the cause, step away from the situation and allow for breathing space. Not all moods need solving and just allowing the experience can be healthy. We know it's temporary (even if it lasts years) and hopefully there is a shift.
Ultimately, I agree with the idea we are simply here to experience. All emotions and pains all the joys and even all the moods!
David Corcoran is a Executive Voice Coach. He helps people take responsibility for their communication. This Blog contains his regular musings, thoughts and ideas. He is based in Vienna, Austria.