Factors That Influence Your Mood: Part 2
How is your mood right now?
Are you above zero or below?
Remember, from yesterday’s lesson, the neurochemicals associated with mood stay in your system for only 90 seconds. If your mood continues, it means that you are feeding it with your thoughts.
Set a timer for 90 seconds, and during this time, make a list of everything that you are grateful for in your life. If your attention wanders, bring it back to your list. This is an excellent way to stop the thoughts that are keeping you down.
Moods Are Infectious
What do you do when you hear a baby’s laughter? Do you find yourself laughing with him or her? Most of us do.
Laughter is contagious.
Even when the laughter ends, your feel-good mood stays high. On the other hand, when people around you are in a bad or negative mood, it can bring down your mood and vice versa. You feel bad long afterward.
This is called “social contagion.”
The idea of social contagion was first noticed two centuries ago when a wave of suicides in Europe was attributed to the publication of Johann von Goethe’s The Sorrows of Young Werther. Since then, research on social contagion has shown that attitudes, beliefs, behaviors, moods, and so on, can be transmitted throughout an environment and infect people just as a virus can.
You don’t have to be around negative people to “catch a bad mood.” Here are some sneaky ways of it happening:
• Following a steady diet of complaining, negative, fearful social media posts, and comments.
• Listening and/or viewing graphic or violent news or videos.
• Regular exposure to issues that you feel strongly about, but have no or little control over, such as the environment, politics, religion, and so on.
Each of these can lead to feelings of helplessness and hopelessness, and you may even experience rage over them.
Choose the Positivity Antidote
Move out of a negative environment if you can and, if you can’t, refuse to let it drag you down.
According to Professor Barbara Frederickson, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, choosing positivity mitigates the effects of negative emotions on your brain and body. It also pays dividends in overall well-being. Her research shows that positive emotions heighten your creativity, innovation, and perceptions.
Remember, misery loves company, so refuse to get caught up in a woe-is-me monologue. Instead, find something positive to say and keep adding to your positive narrative. Compliment someone on their outfit, hair, handwriting, the weather, anything that shifts the focus.
Clean up your social media feed, limit exposure to news that upsets you or leaves you feeling helpless and hopeless, and refuse to watch upsetting, depressing or violent videos, and news reports.
Just say no. You don’t need nitty-gritty, full-color, Dolby-sound to understand how bad some things are. Do what you can in your small part of the world to make things better.
For a long-term immunization, Frederickson and her team recommend learning and practicing the Buddhist loving-kindness meditation, such as the one created by Emma Seppala, Science Director, Stanford University, Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education.
Keep in mind that meditation works only with practice, so if you work in a negative environment or if you are regularly around negative people, cultivating a regular meditation practice can produce long-term, positive resilience. You will learn more about the power of meditation for your mood in a later lesson.
“Exercise, prayer, and meditation are examples of calming rituals. They have been shown to induce a happier mood and provide a positive pathway through life’s daily frustrations.” —Chuck Norris
1. Check out the laughing baby video when you need a quick, positive pick-me-up.
2. Try the loving-kindness meditation by Emma Seppala sometime today. Note your mood before and after doing the meditation.
What’s coming tomorrow? You will discover how your mindset contributes to your mood. Until then, have a good-mood day.
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