Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Your Mood

By: Joseph Norman

Recently, I was having a conversation with a friend of mine at the gym I work out at in Rochester and he mentioned a family trip he just went on to Florida. I responded with a similar story about my business trip there a week or so ago. Inevitably, we talked about the sun and the weather.

If you live in Western New York you know that right now it is a little gloomy out there. Although it's getting warmer, many of the days are grey and dull. Warm days it might rain while the occasional cold spell still bites us with chilly winds and a March or April flurry.

Now, my friend is a successful businessman with an attitude and positive energy that is simply unstoppable. But, we reflected on the fact that sometimes it's tough to keep a great mood up in the final days of winter with the grey skies looming. And, this got me thinking...

There is definitely a difference between your attitude and your mood. You can meet a predominantly positive person that could still be moody just as some people with poor attitudes sometimes have great days.

So, what's the difference between your attitude and your mood?

Your attitude is like your foundation. It's what makes you who you are and what carries you through the day, no matter the circumstances. Meanwhile, your mood is your reaction to the moment. It seems like a minor thing but it's actually a big difference.

Everyday we hear the Dr. Phil's of the world talk about attitude, but how often do we consider our own control over our mood?

The truth is we can change our moods instantly. Are you in a bad mood? All you have to do to change it is make a decision to be happy and make your bad mood a good one. Because your mood is more or less a surface reaction to what's happening in the "right now" of your life, you can change your mood quickly. That's a powerful thing to think about.

When was the last time you said or heard the phrase, "Oh, I just woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning?" You've probably heard it at least once in the last week. Have you ever thought about what that phrase even means? It's completely ridiculous.

What is the wrong side of the bed anyway? Left side or right side? Does it really matter? Nope.

No matter which "side of the bed" you woke up on, you decide your mood. Here are a few strategies to immediately change your state if you find the "wrong side of the bed" syndrome creeping into your day.

Make peace with whatever is bothering you. Accept it and move on. Or, take a few moments to devise a plan to tackle the problem, than put that plan into action.

Compartmentalize when you can. The truth is you can't always control what is happening around you. This holds particularly true if you are listening to someone else venting about their issues or if you're down because of the weather. If you want to, be there for them and empathize with them, but don't let it ruin your mood after the conversation is over. In addition, you'll never be able to manage Mother Nature. Simply box it up and pack it away because you can only solve problems you have control over.

Think about a song you really like. Music has a tremendous power over us. A good piece of music can lift us right up. Use that to your advantage!

Smile. It's amazing what forcing yourself to smile can do. Your body associates good feelings with smiling, so use a little trickery to boost your mood. When I was running competitively in high school and college, I would pick spots on the course before a race where I would plan to smile. No matter how much pain I was in when I reached those points I would always get a little boost from making myself smile. I still use this strategy in competition.

Use props. Carry something small with you at all times which you associate with good feelings. It could be a piece of jewelry with spiritual significance to you or even a pebble from a beach you went to on vacation. Whatever it is, use it! When you're feeling down, just grab your "prop" for a moment and remind yourself that ultimately life is good and you are in control.

If every one of us took a little time to think about how to effectively change our inevitable bad moods into good ones, our homes, workplaces, and communities would be a much more positive place. Give yourself the gift of a good mood today!