Your mood, in a significant way, is your life. Your predominant mood establishes the tone for your life. If your mood is predominantly happy, content, or an otherwise positive mood, chances are you’ll say you’re having a good life. And if your mood is predominantly negative, well…
What mood are you in right now? How did you come to be in this mood? Do you ever wonder where your moods come from? Do you experience being able to make a choice about them, or do they just seem to happen to you?
The good news is, research in positive psychology and related fields is proving that you can take control of your mood, learn to be more optimistic, even happier, and thus create a better life for yourself.
There are three basic ways moods happen: without our knowing; when something happens, be it something good, or something bad; and because we chose to do something about a mood, and deliberately changed it.
When you wake up in the morning, what mood do you find yourself in? Do you tend to notice the mood, or is your first awareness a thought like, “Oh no, is it time to get up already?” Or “Uh oh, I forgot to….” And now those will get you in a mood, won’t they?
When you start your day with “Oh no,” or “Uh oh,” the sour mood that creates can have a powerful negative impact on your day, and on your overall well-being. If you don’t intervene, you’ve just set the stage for many other things to go wrong, feel wrong, and create stress throughout your day.
Likewise, if you start your day with gratitude for the sunrise, or appreciation that you woke up before your alarm, or excitement about what’s on the agenda for the day and the possibilities, that mood will also likely impact your entire day, and your well-being, this time for the positive.
So how can you take charge of your moods, and become a predominantly happier person?
Catch Yourself in the Act
Many of us have habits of thinking that put us in a bad mood. Self-criticism, worrying, regretting – all of these are thought loops we run, like an old CD we forgot to take out of the stereo, without realizing we can choose something else. The next time you find yourself doing one of these negative bad mood thought habits, STOP. Don’t beat yourself up for it (that would just be more of the same). Simply remove that old CD, and put in a new one. You could literally turn on some music and listen to that rather than thinking. You might try telling yourself you’re not going to waste another minute on that, and then think about something else. Anything would be progress from continuing to indulge those old negative thought habits.
Focus on Positive Thoughts
You can create new, positive thought habits, put some good new CDs on your player, by creating a discipline for yourself of thinking positive thoughts. For example, start a gratitude journal, and focus at least once a day on things you’re grateful for. Get in the habit of acknowledging and appreciating people. Let yourself vision your own positive future. Any time you spend in positive thinking is time well spent!
One simple way to refocus your thinking is to ask yourself (and others, by the way) questions that help focus on the positive, such as: *What am I grateful for? *What am I proud of? *What am I happy about? *Who loves me? *Who do I love? *How have I contributed?
Change Your Language
Your words, both spoke out loud and spoken to yourself in your thoughts, have great power to influence your mood. Phrases like “I can’t…” as in, “I can’t afford that” will bring you down. Replace that with, “I am preparing to…” Or even “I choose to…” and notice the difference you feel.
Every time you describe something from your past as if it were happening now (even if the last time it happened was just a moment ago) you are bringing yourself down. There is great power in leaving the past behind, beginning with your language, and being optimistic about the possibility that the future may be different. The simple phrase, “I used to…” or “Up until now I…” can help you to change your mood, and your behavior, to a whole new possibility.
Don’t Just Stand There, DO Something!
One of the most powerful and simple ways to change your mood is to take action. A simple shift in your posture (look up, stand tall, chin up) will lift your mood. Moving your body, i.e. exercise or dancing, will elevate your mood, even if it’s not strenuous. Play upbeat music, and watch what happens to your mood. Or, sing a song yourself!
Take It On and Feel the Difference
You can retrain your predominant mood by making some or all of these suggestions standard daily practices. Start your day by reciting or writing what you’re grateful for. Before you start working, and throughout the day, stand up, look up, even jump up, and pick up your mood. Acknowledge and appreciate others at every opportunity. Play music in the background as you work, or clean, or cook. Exercise every day. Breath deeply and enjoy the moment. One of my favorites – hold my hands under the water and enjoy how it feels each time I wash up in the bathroom – quick, easy, uplifting.
Play with it, find your favorites, and lift your mood. It’s up to you to take charge of the quality of your life.