I try to make my mood uplifting and peaceful, then watch the world around me reflect that mood.
Yaya DaCosta (actress and model)
Moods are states or frames of mind with a global effect on our thoughts, behaviour and feelings. So, although moods can have a specific trigger, they are essentially an unfocused state without an object. Some moods are pleasant (e.g. feeling happy, enthusiastic, powerful, etc.) and some are unpleasant (e.g. feeling depressed, moody, despondent, melancholic etc.). We
can’t fully control our moods, but we are not completely powerless in this respect either. Research suggests that ‘individuals who believe that negative moods can be relieved through their own actions are more likely to engage in problem-focused coping strategies and less likely to report depression and somatic complaints.’(1) So in this area we will consider what we
can do in this respect.
Why moods matter
Good moods have a positive effect on mental and physical health, work and relationships. Some unpleasant moods may be useful too. They can make you re-evaluate your situation and initiate change. They can also bring you closer to yourself and help you discover some personal depths. However, some moods can be troublesome especially if they are too intense or last too long. Even pleasant ones can have some negative effects (e.g. they can leave an impression of superficiality or reduce our capacity to connect and empathise with others). Your mood can also affect how you see your situation: we tend to perceive or interpret the situation in such a way as to match our mood (i.e. if you are in a bad mood, you are likely to see your situation in that light).(2) Furthermore, we tend to attract situations that will confirm our mood. So negative moods tend to attract negative situations that, in turn, reinforce our moods – which can become a vicious circle. The longer this goes on, the more energy and persistence is needed to alter it, so let’s see how our moods can be addressed.
The first step: awareness and acceptance
Ignoring or running away from our mood is sometimes tempting but it doesn’t do the trick. Moods affect us even if we do not pay attention to them. It is observed that ‘although our moods may often escape our attention… they can nonetheless subtly insinuate themselves into our lives’.(3) So recognising and acknowledging that we are in a particular mood may be better. This can help us locate the