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Moods: Coloring our World
BY: T. Franklin Murphy | January 15, 2019
Our moods impact perception coloring the world in bright colors of joy or the dull grays of sadness. Understanding the impact of a mood and recognizing the presence of a mood softens judgments and improve our life.
We experience a variety of moods throughout the days, weeks and years of our lives. Some moods hold for an extended period while others quickly pass. Even the mood varies in degree and intensity. The different happenings in our life intertwine with our mood, being colored by our feelings.
#moods #emotions #emotionalfitness
Adele Lynn in his master piece, The EQ Difference, wrote, “Your emotional reaction often depends on your mood; therefore, your mood may predict your emotional reaction to certain events.” (Lynn, 2005,. P.58). Understanding the enormous impact of a mood secures our footing, giving a better foundation to predict our reactions and the reaction of others. Accurate predictions smooth experience, eliminating distasteful surprises.
"Understanding the enormous impact of a mood secures our footing, giving a better foundation to predict our reactions and the reaction of others."
Moods are a biological fact of life. Going to battle against a mood feels futile, like sticking our puny hand out to stop the flow of a great river. When we contend with our moods with hostility, we create greater conflict. We deepen the sourness by adding rejection to an inherent part of ourselves. Some people have mastered a defensive approach, burying the discomfort, but the distancing from felt experience fragments their ability to pull wisdom from feelings, separating from essential emotions of a rich and well lived life.
Mark Thayer in his book about moods states, "Mood systems have function and utility, or they would not be part of our biopsychology." (Thayer, 1997, p. 76). Thayer argues that moods are a motivating and directing force, alarming our system to action or submission. Basically, sometimes we take on too much, life overwhelms, and our body screams for us to slow down. But we are stubborn. We ignore the signals, keep fighting, keep charging towards goals, and eventually make it over the crest or collapse while trying.
Moods are a human condition. In our search for happiness, we cannot wish away the constraints of our biological existence. We cannot force our bodies to chemically react in a way that they are not programmed to respond.
With acceptance and understanding, we can be appreciative of our highs, and gracefully compassionate with our lows.
Many are tempted to react much differently. Low moods are seen as enemies to be driven away and slaughtered with impunity. “Go away,” we chide, “leave me alone.” We attempt to think, force, and manipulate our moods to morph into something better, lighter and joyful. These maddening attempts often send us tumbling deeper into the darkness, inviting more maladaptive thinking to intervene and restore order to our fragile sense of self.
While we cannot physically through sheer will change a mood, we can influence moods indirectly by improving our environment—both inner and outer experience. Improving circumstances and warm compassion gently encourages the more enjoyable moods. Our friends, lovers, financial stability and the way we think are the ingredients of our environment. Each of these pieces have an impact on our moods.
By simply recognizing a mood, whether its bubbling inside or being expressed by another, we can adapt to the influencing menace, and refrain from harsh and hurtful judgments. Our recognition can change the course of an interaction. Recognizing a low mood, can help re-assign a "hurtful" remark, understanding the involvement of a low mood, tainting our perception. A low mood colors mundane interaction with deep meaning that may not exist. When we recognize this, we can temper the catastrophic interpretation, refraining from damaging responses. Recognizing the low mood in a partner provides protection for our ego, providing space without being overly sensitive to their remarks. A sullen or cutting response is softened against the backdrop of their difficult or frustrating day.
"By simply recognizing a mood, whether its bubbling inside or being expressed by another, we can adapt to the influencing menace, and refrain from harsh and hurtful judgments."
This is a mindful approach, moving from problem solving to simply being. (Williams, M.; Teasdale; Segal; Kabat-Zinn. 2007, Pg. 66). We allow the mood to exist without judgment. The internal battle over feeling can devastate our well-being. We get dragged into a critical thinking maze, examining elements in and around our lives to blame for the dampening mood. This very act sharpens critical judgments and enhances our sorrows. (for more read Mindfulness.)
Our moods are not the enemy, only a function of a biological and learning being in a complex and unpredictable environment. We react to experience. Our bodies create neurochemical imprints to enhance learning. We simply can’t label positive moods as good and bad moods as bad. Each mood has an evolutionary purpose. (Bower, 2013)
Sometimes circumstances are to blame. We may be struggling over a loss or drowning in anxiety. Change may be appropriate. This is the message our body is conveying. We thank our body for the timely message, grateful for the mood serving it purpose and constructively get to work. However, not all wisdom is clear, and we must patiently wait, recruiting help when necessary.
To properly examine a mood, we must first recognize its presence. Only then, with a clear mind, can we address the obvious causes. Often, we discover physical causes are to blame. Our high-sugar snacks or purposeless channel surfing depresses the system and ignites a depressing mood. (Thayer, 1997, p. 218). A key to balancing emotions lies outside of examining the particular emotion and doing the basics; a healthy diet, proper sleep, supporting relationships, and exercise. (also see Nine Pillars of Well-Being.)
When we understand the blinding power of moods on perceptions, we free ourselves from their strength. We may find a simple adjustment solves many relationship problems. Through graceful acceptance of low moods, the feelings are given sufficient room to deliver their message without hurt or hate, allowing them to pass, inviting a much brighter tomorrow.
While a better understanding may not "save" us from the blues, the accepting knowledge will disentangle our mind from passionately being dragged into a battle over words carelessly influenced by an underlying mood. By distrusting the faulty perceptions emerging during sorrow, we can cling to the hope of a brighter future. The lower moods become much more manageable, and oddly, sometimes discomforting moods may even carry a subtle feeling of peace—a knowledge that all is well.
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Bower, B. (2013, November 2). The Bright Side of Sadness: Bad Moods Can Have Unappreciated Mental Upsides. Science News, 184(9), 18. Retrieved from Questia.
Lynn, A. B. (2005). The EQ Difference: A Powerful Plan for Putting Emotional Intelligence to Work. AMACOM; 1st edition. Retrieved from Kindle
Thayer, R. E. (1997). The Origin of Everyday Moods: Managing Energy, Tension, and Stress. New York: Oxford University Press. Retrieved from Questia.
Williams, M.; Teasdale, J.; Segal, Z.; Kabat-Zinn, J. (2007) The Mindful Way Through Depression: Freeing Yourself from Chronic Unhappiness. The Guilford Press; Paperback + CD-ROM edition.