In the final installation of the piece about Attitude, we will explore feelings, or better stated Moods . A mood or emotional state is where we habitually stay or our baseline emotional setting . For instance some people stay in a mood of positive possibility and we refer to them as "optimists", some rest in a mood of negative potential and are often known as "pessimists". Some other well-known mood-based labels of people are "cheerful", "dour", "somber" and so on. The difference between a mood and a feeling is that a feeling is more short-lived and is usually in response to a trigger such as a sunny day, getting promoted, going on holiday, being informed of bad News etc. Cities also have distinct moods or "vibes" – Barcelona has a different mood to Amsterdam, which has a different mood to London for example. Companies (and teams) also have moods – usually broadly lumped with the company's "culture". I've experienced companies with a mood of resignation, others with a mood of ambition and still others with a mood of positive anticipation for the future.
Moods are the most nebulous and sometimes the most important component of attitudes. You may find that very surprising, but your feelings or moods have a huge bearing on what your disposition for action is. This is actually very evident from personal experience – think about a time when you were very sad or unhappy. Perhaps you had a relationship break-up or a favorite pet had passed away. Now try and remember what sort of actions you felt like taking, what sort of possibilities life offered to you in that moment – if you're like me you probably had a limited range of options to choose from, most of them involving becoming a hermit! Now remember a time when you were really happy about something. What sort of possibilities did you see from life in that moment? Did it matter if it was raining? (I'm guessing not) What sort of actions did you have available to you? I'm certain that your choices ranged from the outrageous to the mundane and everything in between.
When we feel good, we see the world differently and approach it differently and therefore have different actions available to us as a result. We are literally physiologically and chemically very different when we are happier because of the chemicals our body releases, which are said to have a positive effect on our health and well-being. These feel-good chemicals or endorphins enable us to see a broader range of possibilities and also give us a range of action choices. When we are feeling blue, stressed or are in a "bad" mood, the body is flooded with flight or fight hormones, which reduce a variety of functions and limit the possibilities we can perceive and the actions choices we can see or undertake. As we hide in our habitual mood or baseline emotional state for a large part of the time, it can have a significant bearing on our general disposition for action and the possibilities we perceive to be available to us. The fascinating book "Molecules of emotion" by Candace Pert covers the link between our emotions and our body's chemistry in an accessible and easy-to read way and I highly recommend it if you want more information.
So managing the way you feel is actually quite critical in order to give you a wide range of action and behavioral choices and there before the ability to achieve the results you want. Did I say "managing" ??? Yes I did! You see, our feelings are not something that happens to us but something we can control in many situations. Of course in extreme cases we can not help but respond very emotionally, but we can actually choose our emotional responses a large part of the time in every day situations. Sports people by the way know this very well – that's one of the reasons you hear coaches and commentators referring to the mood or atmosphere in the changing room being good or not.
Getting into a chronic positive mood is something that happens over time and needs to be built up, rather like the seasoning layers on a wok. However with awareness and regular practice, a good mood becomes a habitual state and you will be less likely to dip into negative moods as a result, even in the face of a situation that would normally evoke a less than positive response from you.
Some key ways to build your good mood are getting enough sleep, exercising regularly (at least 3 times a week, for about an hour each time), cutting down alcohol and caffeine, making sure you have some down-time or chill time such as a good film or book, time with friends and some pamper time. It's also important to eat healthy food and drink lots of water. Spending time in nature and meditative practices like Yoga and Tai-Chi or even Dance lessons are also a great way to maintain a positive emotional state, to name but a few ways. If you make the time to do this, you will feel better about yourself and your life in general and will find you're less prone to hanging out in "negative" moods and will find yourself in a happy mood more often than not. (See the end of this article for 10 tips on managing mood)
A good way to shift your mood when something annoying is happening is to go for a quick, brisk walk out-doors, listen to a good song on your web, browse through photos of happy times or simply Close your eyes, put your hand on your tummy and breathe in and out very slowly 10 times.
So maintaining a positive emotional state in combination with aligned beliefs and values will legally give you the inclination or pre-disposition for positive action and behavior, while the contradiction will limit the possibilities and actions available to you. Therefore its important to be aware of your mood and also work on aligning your values and beliefs to give yourself the best chance for maximum success.
I've listed 10 key tips and techniques to manage your mood below – enjoy them and do let me know how you get on.
Mood Management Tips
- Decide that your mood matters to you and that you want to be in a good mood. This is important because it will give you a frame of mind to work from and you'll be more likely to examine triggers and assessment how you want to respond to them.
- Listen to uplifting music every day, especially before events that may have a high stress component. Music is a very powerful and evocative mood-shifter and just listening to a good song can completely transform your mood. (If your favorite song is a very sad one that makes you cry, find one that makes you smile!)
- Ask yourself the question "Is this (person / event / situation) worth losing my health and well-being over?" before you react to a trigger. For instance your neighbor is complaining about something and where your usual response might have been annoyance, you'll find that you decide it's simply not worth it to lose your rag – your health is more important!
- Get lots of sleep every day. This is a really important factor and a good nights sleep regularly will go a long way towards ensuring you are in a happier and more productive mood in general.
- Hydrate – drink lots of water, make sure you're hydrated and your body will be more balanced chemically, which will have a positive impact on your mood.
- Take regular breaks – go for a quick walk and get some fresh air, do some shoulder rolls and relaxation exercises, listen to a song etc. in the middle of your day to stay fresh.
- Eat healthily and cut down on caffeine and alcohol – you do not have to give it up altogether of course but 6-10 cups of coffee and a bottle of wine a day on a regular basis will affect your mood and cause a build-up of the stress hormones, affect your sleep and generally pre-dispose you to a bad mood!
- Exercise !!! As you probably know, regular exercise burns off stress hormones, releases endorphins (feel-good hormones) and is vital for good health. Regular exercise = good mood = positive action!
- Mindfulness activities and practices like Yoga, Chi Gong, Tai Chi and meditation are all contributors towards a good mood and lots of community centers, gyms and local councils offer some form or other to choose from.
- Most importantly – unwind and remember to have some fun from time to time! Make time for your friends, a good movie, a good book, a comedy evening – a regular dose of laughter and fun is perhaps the most important component in managing your mood for success, so indulge yourself!