So, I recently did some reading about emotions and thought of practical way to manage my mood which I would like to share with you all.
What I learned from the book, Emotions Revealed by Paul Ekman, was that our moods are created by dense experiences. This is defined as a bunch of emotionally similar experiences occurring in a very short period of time. For instance, imagine you are walking out the door of your house on the way to your car; you are going to the grocery store. On the way out the door, your jacket pocket gets caught on the door handle and rips. Anger. Then, as you get in your car and turn the key, it doesn’t start. Anger. So, you go back in the house, grab a set of jumper cables only to realize that the person you live with has them in THEIR car. Anger. So you call them and they don’t answer. Anger… am I making my point here? It is highly likely that for the rest of that day, or maybe even longer, you would be in a bad mood. I mean, I know I would.
Dense experiences like these can occur for any emotion, not just anger. In fact, think of moods simply as prolonged emotions. Emotions fluctuate but are drastically influenced by the mood that one is in at the time the emotions are experienced. To clarify this concept, take a look at the graph I have drawn here:
The Mood-line in blue is gradually changing. This shows how our moods often last a long time and fluctuate over hours or days. The Emotion-line in green is centered around the Mood-line to show how our emotions go up an down depending on our mood. Have you ever snapped at someone when you shouldn’t have because you were in an angry mood? Or have you ever left a much larger tip than normal at a restaurant because you were in a happy mood? If so, then you have experienced this effect.
How to manage your mood?
Every time you are in a bad mood, this should be an indicator that you need to do something to turn it around. I know this may sound intuitive, but I can’t tell you how many times I have been caught up in an angry mood and let it go on for hours or even days, without doing anything about it.
Doing something about it is the first step toward changing your mood. But, you may ask, what should I do? Well, since we know that moods are generated by dense experiences, put yourself in a positive dense experience! Take some time to do a few things that make you happy. It doesn’t really matter how long or short it takes you to do this. For me, when I am pressed for time, I call someone in my family to see how they are doing, or I go see a friend that always makes me laugh. Then maybe I’ll watch an interesting video online or go play basketball. Before I know it, I’m in a better mood.
Please, give this a try in your daily life and leave me a comment letting me know how it goes! If you have trouble fitting it into your routine or can’t seem to grasp the concept, let me know and I’d be happy to discuss with you.
THE TAKEAWAY: Your mood is entirely under your control, if you know how to control it. Use the fact that moods are created by dense experiences to your advantage. Fill those “bad days” with good things. Life is what you make it, so make it what you want!