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The Whole Human

How to manage your mood

Are you currently in a good mood or a bad mood?

Now, let me ask you another question: How is your day? I bet that you’re having a bad day if you’re in a bad mood, and a good day if you’re in a good mood.

That’s obvious, right? But here’s the thing; since it has such a big impact on the quality of our lives, why aren’t we managing our mood better? Because let’s face it, we shouldn’t let a bad mood ruin our day.

And yet, I never hear people about managing their mood. We all assume that our mood is influenced by outside factors. Things that we do not control.

The Stoics often write about not letting other people get under our skin. They remind us that we can’t control other people’s actions or outside events.

But no matter how you live your life, at some point, you deal with annoying people or events that piss you off — things that ruin your mood.

So how do you avoid staying in a bad mood, caused by external things? And how do you even generate a good mood? Let’s discuss those two challenges.

1. How to manage a negative mood

Have you ever tried logging how often you’re in a bad mood? I did. I’ll tell you this. If you’re anything like me, you’re probably more often in a bad mood than you think!

Shit happens my friend. Things will never go your way all the time. Even the most wealthy, healthy, and happy people deal with the perils of humanity.

Like almost every process that’s focused on improving something bad, to manage a negative mood, we must become aware of our problem first.

And no, it’s not a problem that bad things happen. I’m not saying that we should avoid things that destroy our mood. That’s what weak people do.

It’s not the event that’s harmful, it’s our negative reaction that’s the problem.

Remember that negative emotions can be very useful. We have them for a reason. However, we must recognize that staying in a negative state of mind is a problem.

So for the next two weeks, just like keeping an activity log, record your mood. Try to find out exactly what triggers your negative mood.

That’s all there is. Again, we’re not trying to avoid getting in a bad mood. We’re trying to raise awareness. That’s the only way to snap out of it.

2. How to generate a positive mood

Once you have better self-awareness and you know what triggers a negative emotional state, it’s time to focus on the next step.

And that is … Can I get a drum roll, please???

The next step is ….

Do nothing.

“Wow, dude. That’s a huge anticlimax.”

Do yourself a favor and don’t follow your first instinct. It’s almost always bad.

Sometimes I get nasty emails, comments, or tweets from people who don’t mean well.

This morning, I received an email from someone who called me a liar because he couldn’t download a free eBook from Amazon that I shared. It’s not my fault that he doesn’t know his way around Amazon. Calling me a liar because of that pisses me off.

My first response was to shrug it off. But then, I told him to fuck off (and if people write me back to judge my writing style, I tell them the same).

I admit it’s not a perfect response. But if I don’t respond, I get in a bad mood because I feel like I didn’t stand up for myself. I take my values seriously and protect them at all costs.

You see, our first reaction is always an emotional one. In this case, my first response was to ignore it.

However, I’m also not saying you should react to everything. All we need to do is take a few seconds and look at the stakes. Is your integrity or relationship at stake? Then, action is necessary.

Let’s say you start getting annoyed by your girlfriend or boyfriend. You can think:

“So if I get angry, she’ll get disappointed. Then, I will get even angrier since she can’t talk to me when I’m angry. So it’s best if I don’t allow my emotions to escalate.”

If you value your relationship, it’s better to not lash out—even if that makes you feel better at the moment.

Managing our mood is hard. And we don’t get this right on the first try. But if you give it time and keep practicing, you’ll be much more in control of what influences your mood.

But let’s say something happens that triggers a bad mood. What now?

Do this: Visualize good things.

Get the serotonin flowing. See the bigger picture. Set a goal for yourself to never be stuck in a bad mood for more than 10 minutes.

Soak in your own sorrow. Respond. Feel bad for yourself.

Then, move on

Look, I can’t sit here and tell you I never get in a bad mood. Life’s unpredictable, and circumstances often spiral us in a negative mindset.

But what separates the positive people from the negative people is that positive folks never STAY in a bad mood. Sometimes I’m in a bad mood for a whole day. But I will never accept that.

Life is too short to drown in your own misery. Get over yourself and enjoy this one life you have. And while you’re at it, try to be in a good mood as much as you can.

Do you want to get tips to improve your mood? 🎧 Listen to my podcast episode about it.

This article first appeared on Darius Foroux.

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