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An unlikely-sounding trick for shortening everyday bad moods

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Like all creatures, the ultimate ambition of a Bad Mood is to live forever. Once it finds its way into a host, it wants to bed down and arrange its surroundings for a long stay. The Mood does this by discouraging initiative of any kind. It applauds couch-sitting and movie-watching and between-meal eating, because this keeps it alive as long as possible.

Skilled Bad Moods also encourage the host to interact badly with others. If it can get the host to scowl and criticize others, those others will react with faces and criticisms of their own, justifying the BM’s existence to its host, thereby giving it a better chance of long-term survival, and giving it a chance to reproduce.

As it gains experience with a particular host, a successful Bad Mood gradually masters the controls. It can keep its administration going for days, or even weeks, once it’s learned which buttons to push. Some especially talented Bad Moods are able to stay in office for the entire lifetime of their host.

The primary strategy of such Moods is to convince the host that it shouldn’t change anything about its environment or its behavior. The Bad Mood feels threatened by changes in physical surroundings, new habits, curiosity, and any effort by the host to move life forward in any way.

Unaware of these covert motives, the host often responds to the Bad Mood by doing the very things that keep it alive. 

Know a bad mood when you see it

I’m an advocate of acknowledging bad moods when they do happen, and letting them hang out for a bit instead of trying to force them away. Just being aware that you’re sporting a bad mood goes a long way to thwarting its survival strategies.

A bad mood does its most insidious work when it’s unseen, having convinced you that your mood isn’t distorting anything — the outside world really is boring, or evil, or trite, and you really are flawed and destined for perpetual disappointment, and that you are currently seeing this all with particular clarity. This is a masterful bad mood at work.

In a sense, you’re helpless as long as you don’t know you’re having a “mood.” But once you’ve recognized that a bad mood is indeed in the building, there are things you can do.

I’ve read over a hundred books from the category we can call “self-help.” Most of them are heavy on inspiration and encouragement, and a little light on workable instructions. But if a book leaves me with even one tool I can use (and remember to use) for the rest of my life, then it makes it a more-than-worthwhile read. One of the best ones is from Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project.

It’s so straightforward that it sounds almost insulting at first, and whenever I present the idea in real life I get eyes rolled at me. People in the throes of crappy feelings don’t like to be told that they may have power over those feelings. I understand that, because often that person is me. So I’m hoping to catch you in a decent-enough mood that you will be receptive to the idea.

It’s very simple:

When you notice you don’t feel like you want to feel, act the way you want to feel.

I mentioned this as one of my 16 things I know are true but haven’t quite learned yet. It works almost every time I try it, I just haven’t learned to try it often enough. It takes a bit of resolve, but nothing beyond what any improvement-inclined person could summon in any non-hysterical bad mood.

From Gretchen:

“If I feel shy, I act friendly. If I feel irritated, I act lovingly.”

It sounds too simple to work, but it does. The brilliant William James explains why: “Action seems to follow feeling, but really action and feeling go together; and by regulating the action, which is under the more direct control of the will, we can indirectly regulate the feeling, which is not.” [Emphasis mine -D.]

Acting how you want to feel doesn’t automatically create the feeling you’re looking for, but that’s not the point. Bad feelings and actions reinforce each other. So crummy feelings beget crummy actions, which create more crummy feelings and so on. You have more control over your body than your mind, so by doing the unthinkable and acting outgoing when you feel insular, it’s the outgoing feelings that get reinforced and not the insular ones.

Bad moods are often just security blankets

There are also external feedback loops that get interrupted. Say you’re in a funk where you feel small and shy, and you have an evening class in two hours. Part of you wants to skip it, and you know that that will only make you feel worse. You want to feel outgoing, so you decide you’ll go to the class acting like you are feeling that way: standing up straight, making eye contact and starting conversations with people. The reactions you’ll get will reinforce your outgoingness, and actually make it hard to continue to feel shy and evasive.

People mirror the vibes they’re getting from other people. Visible anxiousness makes other people anxious, visible discomfort makes people uncomfortable, visible optimism makes people feel optimistic, and friendliness makes people friendly. This is a very powerful principle of human interaction, and it works very predictably.

Usually, once I’ve begun to act how I want to feel, it makes my funk seem silly, because it’s not doing anything for me anymore. It makes the bad mood feel irrelevant and even a little embarrassing. It’s like noticing you’re still holding an umbrella even though it’s not raining any more.

Whenever I do this I’m struck by the fact that part of me was quite attached to staying grumpy (or shy or judgmental or pessimistic.) It feels as if you were maintaining the mood almost voluntarily, to protect you from something. Acting like someone who feels differently reveals (usually in a minute or two) that the crappy mood was just a security blanket, and losing it doesn’t expose you to anything dangerous.

How to make it work

One requirement is that you’re able to articulate how you feel. “Bad” isn’t specific enough, you need a more precise adjective: irritated, shy, selfish, lonely, unlucky, ungrateful. Then you need to decide how you want to feel, and give it an adjective too: loving, lucky, grateful. Then decide you’re going to go into the next part of your day acting like a loving, lucky or grateful person. Don’t overthink the question of how to act that way. You’ve been loving, lucky and grateful before.

It’s important to understand that deciding to act the way you want to feel is not the same as deciding to feel the way you want to feel. You can’t just will yourself to feel a particular way. But you can move your body and your mouth in ways consistent with how you might if you were feeling the way you want to feel. The change in feelings comes as a side-effect of your conduct.

You are not repressing feelings here. Repressing feelings is trying to will them into something else. You’re applying your will to your behavior, because you have way more control over your behavior than your feelings, and the two reinforce each other.

In my experience this works reliably for mild-to-medium bouts of unwanted feelings. If you’re completely distraught, then you probably need to ride that out at least until you get to a less intense part of your bad trip.

It also doesn’t work if there isn’t a particular way you do want to feel. So it’s quite useful for doing things you want done but you don’t currently feel like doing (think attending social events, exercising, getting work done) but it’s not so useful for putting an end to dedicated moping or calculated passive-aggressive behavior.

Most imporantly, it doesn’t work if you don’t actually do it. It’s not a huge effort but it is an effort, and it’s easy to forget that you decided to act a particular way.

I’m aware that this sounds far-fetched and I don’t expect anyone to believe that it works just by reading this blog post. But I know some of you will be convinced that it’s worth trying. As usual, the doing is more important than the believing here.

***

In other news:

I’ve been excited to announce this for a while. This coming August, I’ll be presenting at a week-long chautauqua in the mountains of Ecuador.

A chautauqua is a small gathering of people for the purpose of exchanging ideas, which help each other grow as individuals. In this case, the theme is creating happiness and freedom in your life. The group will be about fifteen people plus three presenters. Aside from me, there will be:

J.D. Roth — The Portland-based blogger responsible for More Than Money and for founding the mega-popular personal finance site Get Rich Slowly.

Cheryl Reed — Founder of Above the Clouds Retreats and the organizer of this chautauqua.

Aside from the presentations, there will one-on-one sessions with the presenters, plus excursions to the city of Quito, Cheryl’s coffee farm, pre-Incan ruins, and a lot more. I am told there is also a zip-line involved.

The event was a big hit last year, and this time there are two chautauquas. The first one is August 9-16, featuring Mr Money Mustache, Jesse Mecham, and Jim Collins. I’ll be at the second one, August 23-30, with J.D and Cheryl.

If this is something you might be interested in, you can read a lot more about it here.

Also, this time Cheryl is also organizing an optional trip to visit the nearby Galapagos Islands, for attendees who want to extend their stay in South America. The dates are tentative but I imagine it will be the week between the two chautauquas.

Here are a few accounts (and photos) of what the retreat was like last year:

From J.D. Roth
From Jim Collins
From Mr. Money Mustache

quito_mountain

***

Photo of couch by Dierk Schaefer
Agnes March 3, 2014 at 2:21 am

It is 3.20 am in the morning in my corner of the earth, and I can’t sleep because I am having a severe attack of bad mood. I open my ipad and I see this: exactly what I needed to hear right now! My bad mood has been worsening in the past few weeks, and now I know just why, and just what to do. Thank you.

David Cain March 3, 2014 at 8:32 am

I hope you’re able to get some sleep, Agnes.

Is this site displaying okay in your iPad? Someone else mentioned an issue with certain characters.

Ragnar March 3, 2014 at 3:00 am

It’s funny how taking the first step is simultaneously the hardest and the easiest part of doing something. I discovered that all it really took to propel me to write was disconnect from the network and open up a blank/preexisting document. And somehow when I procrastinate I project how I’m currently feeling on the me in the imminent future, and conclude that it won’t work this time. Yet, when I simply do it, 5 minutes later I’m often churning out 30 words per minute.

And man I had planned to do South America next year…. maybe things will turn out in a way that I can go, but as it stands I’m not sure. Love the concept of a chautauqua.

David Cain March 3, 2014 at 8:37 am

It’s funny how taking the first step is simultaneously the hardest and the easiest part of doing something.

It is, and that’s something to take advantage of. The majority of the resistance is in the few moments it takes to change direction. Think of all the “walls” we’ve butted up against in life up to this point… We probably could have done most of the things we thought we couldn’t do.

Jonny Hung March 3, 2014 at 3:17 am

//bad mood loop
while (mood == badmood) {
negativity++;
feelworthless( );
mood = badmood;
//insert function here – breakbadmood (mood);
}

//function for shortening bad moods
null breakbadmood (Emotion mood) {
if (mood == badmood) {
awareness(badmood);
add(patience, unattachment);
mood.addswag( );
persistence( );
}
}

David Cain March 3, 2014 at 8:38 am

Getting caught up in a negativity++ loop is the worst

Kerry March 12, 2014 at 8:30 am

There is a book called: How emotions work in humans and equations, and the author does a great job of breaking down all emotions into an equation.
It gave me great insight for my own emotions, but it also has become invaluable when faced with other people’s emotions as well.

Angelina Brighton March 3, 2014 at 3:20 am

Hi David,

You caught me right in the middle of the aftermath of a horrible life-blow. Thanks for the brilliant insight as usual. Not sure if I can pull out of this one easily, but your advice is definitely worth a shot.

AB

David Cain March 3, 2014 at 8:40 am

Good luck with dealing with your situation Angelina. *hug*

Gael Blanchemain March 3, 2014 at 7:54 am

I find it funny how we need to identify the type of bad mood we’re in and apply a strategy…When in the end we realize that the “mood” didn’t exist in the first place.

I guess the clinical part of this technique (identify, then chose an antidote) is the only thing that deters me from taking action, yet, if I dare to move forward, it always works for me.

If somebody makes you laugh when you don’t want to, it’s an aggression and a gift in the same time :)

Thanks for the clarity of your post, I need these reminders everyday…

David Cain March 3, 2014 at 8:51 am

Yeah… the mood is really just a thinking pattern, and when your thinking changes a bit it can dissolve surprisingly quickly.

But it does require taking an action that most people have some resistance to. It’s well worth experimenting with though — what is there to lose?

Jackie C March 3, 2014 at 8:07 am

Thank you for this post! I’ve been enjoying your writing for a little while now, and it’s funny how a good many of your posts are so spot on for what is happening in my life right at that moment. I suppose that says something about the universality of human existence…..

Anyhow, I’m in the middle of writing my doctoral dissertation, and I have been getting through it each day by acting like someone who is motivated and interested in writing about science, when in fact I have been teetering on the edge of burnout for a long time now. The end is in sight, and I just have to get through a few more weeks.

Thank you for your insights and your words of wisdom. They are both inspirational and a comfort.

David Cain March 3, 2014 at 8:54 am

…and it’s funny how a good many of your posts are so spot on for what is happening in my life right at that moment. I suppose that says something about the universality of human existence

That’s my sneaky secret: I write about the broadest possible topic so it’s always relevant.

I’m glad that’s working for you. It can definitely make the difference between getting through something and getting hung up on it.

Kristin March 3, 2014 at 10:24 am

Hi Jackie,
I felt compelled to leave a comment for you as I can relate very much to what you wrote.
The more I open myself up to others the more I see we all struggle with similar issues. (I have been thinking for years it was just me, but now I know better). Which is comforting but also sobering. However, not everyone likes to think or talk about these topics, we all have very different brains/minds. That is what I like about David’s writings, it feels like coming home. His approach is quite liberating and pure.
From my experience and many others writing a dissertation can be a torture for various reasons. It could possibly also be helpful to bring some compassionate mindful elements to your experience.
Trying to be focused on science can be hard when you are not feeling positive about yourself or your situation, but at the same time, science can be a neutral island you can escape to. It is normal to feel fed up after years of focusing on possibly “a detail of a detail in science”, overcoming many hurdles day after day, trying to keep yourself motivated, when you are feeling less and less energy, but I hope for you that once you can finish some sections, you might be able to feel like you have achieved something. I think in this case being able to finish it is more important than striving for perfection. Good luck with your creative process, you are almost there! XX

Jackie C March 4, 2014 at 5:35 am

Thanks for the kind words, Kristin! I’m hanging in there!

Kenneth March 3, 2014 at 8:35 am

I disagree with David that you have to give a specific and precise adjective to your bad mood. Abraham teaches us that you are either feeling good, neutral or bad – the adjectives don’t matter – which represents the state of our connection to Source Energy.

I love the reference to people mirroring our moods and actions. Including ourselves! So I’d rather be around happy, enthusiastic, excited, loving, having fun people, wouldn’t you? And if I’m not – well I want to change that right away, because I’d rather be around a happy version of myself!

David Cain March 3, 2014 at 9:00 am

If you can do it without specifying how you want to feel, then that’s excellent. I find I need to be able to tell myself “I want to feel outgoing” in order to be clear on how to act. “I want to feel good” doesn’t provide that clarity for me.

Ric March 3, 2014 at 9:13 am

Great post (naturally!) Thanks.

This bit I already know to be true, as I use it nearly every day when family or friends are on a low, or for whatever reason:

“People mirror the vibes they’re getting from other people. Visible anxiousness makes other people anxious, visible discomfort makes people uncomfortable, visible optimism makes people feel optimistic, and friendliness makes people friendly. This is a very powerful principle of human interaction, and it works very predictably.”

It therefore stands to reason, if I improve someone else’s mood because they mirror positive vibes from me, then whatever my mood, I will end up feeling better, since I will naturally end up mirroring the newly created positive vibes from them (and so we have a virtuous circle).

I think human interactions are a fascinating area and very powerful in a positive way when you know some of the rules!

David Cain March 4, 2014 at 8:25 am

If you can bring yourself to try to improve someone’s mood even though your own mood needs improvement, then you can see the kind of alchemy I’m getting at here ;)

Genevieve Hawkins March 3, 2014 at 11:04 am

The broadest subject matters possible? You have a knack for it, certainly.
My problem with bad moods is how hard it is for me to recognize the feeling I’m having. Frequently I’ll be feeling thoughtful or introspective (say, after reading your blog and pondering a response) and my husband will tell me I have a scowl on my face and ask me what is wrong. Or is that mood just being too self absorbed?

David Cain March 4, 2014 at 8:33 am

Is he right? When he says you have a scowl, are you really scowling? Many people’s pensive faces look a bit serious, but that doesn’t really matter.

Gustavo March 3, 2014 at 11:35 am

Hey David! Even though I don’t live in Quito, I live close enough. I have a lot of dear friends in Quito who won’t hesitate to help if you get into trouble. So, if you do, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I hope I can get to invite you a cup of coffee.

David Cain March 4, 2014 at 8:34 am

Hi Gustavo! That’s wonderful, I will be in touch via email.

Tim March 3, 2014 at 12:15 pm

David, thanks as always for your wonderful insights! I’ve kind of learned what you’re talking about, though I’ve never practiced it systematically. I have found, however, that if I’m in a generalized bad mood and I smile at myself in the mirror for a few seconds, the dark clouds do start to break up. Even if I know full well that it’s a fake smile, the very physical act of making my face form a smile seems to help.

David Cain March 4, 2014 at 8:35 am

Strangely, it does. I find just softening my body goes a long way — bad moods often create muscle tension in the body, and if you take a second to locate and release it, the mood softens too.

Edward March 3, 2014 at 2:00 pm

Great article! Bonus points for actually putting into words ideas and emotional states that are extremely difficult to put into words.
Here’s something I’ve found related.. I attend the occasional sci-fi convention and have a few different costumes. (Yes, geek!) I’ve noticed when people wear a costume (usually one of their fictional heroes) after an hour or two they begin to behave like the character. Quite people slowly become outgoing, confident wisecrackers, with a swashbuckling walk. The transformation is truly amazing. The change in one of my friends (from reserved university professor to sci-fi shotgun toting space goddess) was so dramatic that several times I actually called her by the character’s name instead of her own.
I was also an extra once when they filmed a “Kids in The Hall” TV show in my city. After only one day of wearing the cop uniform, I found I actually started behaving like a cop! Holding my thumbs in my belt, walking around with an air of authority, eyeing people with suspicion. It felt good. And the other extras treated me with a little too much automatic respect.
…We’re such a strange species. If you painted a zebra a different colour, it would probably still behave like a zebra, wouldn’t it?

Adam March 3, 2014 at 2:52 pm

“I’ve noticed when people wear a costume (usually one of their fictional heroes) after an hour or two they begin to behave like the character. Quite people slowly become outgoing, confident wisecrackers, with a swashbuckling walk.”
So which character is real? The “quiet person” person or the confident “fictional hero”? Goes to show how fragile our identities really are. I think this idea is behind some eastern traditions practice of taking on the role of archetypal deities.

David Cain March 4, 2014 at 8:37 am

This reminds me of an experience friend of mine had on Halloween. She dressed up like a clown and found that she was more playful and jovial. A friend even said, “I like when you’re a clown, it takes your edge off.”

StephInBerkeley March 3, 2014 at 3:56 pm

okay…good stuff and entertaining…but as i read the quote about acting friendly when feeling shy, all i could think was i usually do that (feeling i have no choice), and all i feel is more anxious and like a fraud. –now, i think i (seriously) have asperger’s, so maybe my reaction is more extreme than most (as in i’ve had panic attacks and sprinted out of parties before), but don’t you think that feeling like a fraud and thus more isolated is sometimes the result of acting in ways that contradict our feelings?

David Cain March 4, 2014 at 8:49 am

Well I think all moods are ultimately just patterns of feeling that come and go, and I don’t really think there’s any kind of honor in “airing out” a bad mood. I still advocate letting your mood be what it will, just that you experiment with doing things that might not be the first impulse of a person in a bad mood.

I suspect it wouldn’t really make you feel like a fraud if you tried it, as long as you keep your attention on the behavior. Asperger’s may complicate things, but it is worth trying.

d.s March 3, 2014 at 4:18 pm

Very good advice. Particularly the “Know a bad mood when you see it” and “act the way you want to feel” (so long as these are positive) and “articulate how you feel” parts.

But there are some possible pitfalls in a negative character development of Bad Mood:

First, Bad Mood is way smarter than we are, and will outflank any effort to mentally resist or defeat it as a phenomenon – eventually progressing into Debilitating Depression or Existential Crisis (no joke – I’ve met these characters and remembered Bad Mood fondly). Bad Mood is more real than our thoughts about it, and will beat us about the head until we give it the respect it deserves.

Second, Bad Mood is actually an ally – a -speak only the truth- friend trying to tell us something really important: “Stop ignoring the miracle of your existence!” We get mad at such friends but it never helps to reject them – they’re the best friends we’ve got.

Intentionally acting out a positive attitude while in the midst of a negative one is wonderful advice, but keep in mind that Funk doesn’t go away because we’ve outmaneuvered it for the time being, but because at the moment we don’t need its visceral advice: We’re behaving, mentally and physically, in a way that demonstrates an appreciation for being alive – and sharing it with those around us. The long-term goal is to live compassionately, and Bad Mood is there to demonstrate which way not to go.

I wish you a wonderful trip to Ecuador! – I hear it’s beautiful and soulful country.

David Cain March 4, 2014 at 8:51 am

I was pretty clear that this is appropriate for mild to moderate bad moods, not debilitating depression.

Second, Bad Mood is actually an ally – a -speak only the truth- friend trying to tell us something really important: “Stop ignoring the miracle of your existence!”

I don’t think this is true in most cases, and I don’t think the resolution of an everyday bad mood is necessarily going to require recognizing the miracle of one’s existence.

d.s March 5, 2014 at 12:58 pm

Yes, you were clear about dealing with mild to moderate bad moods. And yes dealing with these as they happen, as per your article, is an effective way to prevent them from developing into something far worse.

And you are also correct, sadly, that in most cases we don’t consider a bad mood to be an ally while suffering one. This is because a bad mood precludes the recognition of one’s miraculous existence – these mind-frames are mutually exclusive. Resolution of the bad mood doesn’t require this recognition – it simply begs it. Yes it’s difficult to make the shift away from ingratitude, but recognizing the bad mood as part of that miraculous existence is a good first step. It has a chance to become a good bad mood. I guarantee – it’s impossible to be in a bad mood while genuinely appreciating the opportunity to be in any mood at all. Try it!

The excellent point I take from your article is that it’s much easier to alleviate a bad mood, and appreciate being alive, while actively and purposefully engaged in said miracle.

Dan March 4, 2014 at 12:39 pm

Great article! Two quotes from Alan Watts immediately popped to mind:

“The way things are is the way you feel.”

“The only way to find it is to be it.”

Would also like to recommend a couple other relevant sources worth checking out. The first is a long-read that really helps you examine your feelings and how to break out of habitual feedback loops:

The Rounder We Go, The Stucker We Get
http://www.learningmethods.com/circular.htm

The other is the work of Robert Anton Wilson, which shines a light on the “isness” of identity and how that goes a long way towards affixing our negative feelings and emotions (and thoughts, in general). For example, it’s fairly common practice to say something like, “John is unhappy and grouchy.” But, to break free of these concrete conceptual bonds (and make a better assessment on reality in general), we would reframe the statement. So, one might add qualifiers in saying, “John appears unhappy and grouchy in the office.” This can obviously be done in a more personal way by speaking about yourself (rather than another person). And, in doing so, it reveals these feelings as the contextual and fleeting moments that they are (as flowing patterns, rather than fixed and permanent things). Here, Wilson offers a more thorough rundown:

E and E-Prime
http://www.rawilson.com/quantum.html

Amber March 5, 2014 at 6:53 am

This was quite an interesting read, I think it will be helpful to try, especially considering I work in hospitality and sometimes get affected by so many other peoples moods (customers, workmates etc) when I should really be concentrating on taking control of my own moods and emotions and subconsciously have them mirror my happy/friendly/relaxed mood…it’s really a win-win for everyone :-)

David Cain March 6, 2014 at 9:41 am

It really is. Let us know how your experiments go, if you think of it.

Dustin March 5, 2014 at 2:33 pm

David,

I love the way you personify (or animalify?) “Bad Mood”. It’s a great strategy for getting rid of anything. Have you read Steven Pressfield’s book, “The War of Art”? He personifies Resistance and uses the same technique you did in this post. Once you’re able to single out a feeling, name it, and take note of it when it appears, it’s so much easier to stop it.

You said “You can’t just will yourself to feel a particular way.” I have to disagree. When I’m aware of a feeling that I don’t want to be there (i.e. anger, sadness, jealousy), I meditate and use visualization to get myself into a happier mindset. It works pretty well, but it takes a lot of work. But sometimes, this is easier than changing your actions first, because negative moods NEVER want to go away. Damn Misery and its love for company!

Anyway, thank you for another beautifully written post. Have a good one.

David Cain March 8, 2014 at 5:43 pm

Yes, I loved the War of Art. I think it’s one I’ll read a number of times.

If you can will yourself to feel a particular way, then that is a super-excellent skill. Visualization is very powerful, but I’m not that good at it.

oddstray March 5, 2014 at 10:37 pm

One of my favorite stories from 9/11. There was a couple living in NYC who loved to dance. After 9/11, they agreed they couldn’t dance with so much grief in them. Then one of them put on some music and started moving with it. The other asked, “what are you doing?”. The one replied, “I can’t dance, but I want to. So until I can, I’m pretending.”

John March 6, 2014 at 4:53 pm

This sounds like a tough one to implement. But as always, our minds will always try to talk us out of anything that is beyond what we normally do :). In my business networking group, I’ve noticed how positive energy and vibes from smiling people are so contagious, it’s incredible. Whenever I go, I’m starting to realize what a great blessing it is to be in the presence of people who have similar goals/desires. I always leave feeling better about the day than I did before.

David Cain March 8, 2014 at 5:41 pm

Often it’s a case of “tougher not to implement.” You don’t have much to lose except a crap mood :)

Seana - Sydney, Kids, Food + Travel March 6, 2014 at 9:27 pm

I definitely use that ‘fake it til you make it’ idea… putting a smile on my dial does help shift the old brain cells.

Zaire March 9, 2014 at 1:39 am

Though I haven’t read Gretchen’s work, I think I heard somewhere that when you smile, the muscle movement releases endorphins and you feel happier. So I guess I am doing something similar, when I deliberately smile when I feel horrible, and bounce up and down to get my blood pumping and body relaxed! So yah, I’m sure what you said works. Because I often fear regret and will force my moody self to for social gatherings and soon I will have laughed so much my BM is long gone. And I feel a little guilty (caused by BM) that I was so inconsistent with my feelings) :P

Sandra Cross March 9, 2014 at 10:50 am

This is incredibly well written, David – especially the introduction. I think that overcoming bad moods can be done in a ‘fake it till you make it’ kind of way; while I was reading this, it reminded me of how smiling can improve mood effectively, at least short term.
It’s true that often we’re in a way attached to our moods, I really like how you used the umbrella metaphor there.
Thanks for writing this, this is very useful advice and absolutely worth a try!

M March 9, 2014 at 11:28 am

In 12-step parlance, this is called, “Acting as if.” It works, too. Good stuff, David.

Dalia March 11, 2014 at 1:14 am

All of my bad moods stem from external forces. I choose to let those external forces dictate my mood and that really grinds my gears. My life is great, it has its challenges but I am happy with it; in comes an external force with its negativity and I allow it to damper my happiness. Really annoying. So I breathe in and breathe out and acknowledge I cannot control external forces- I can influence but I cannot change them. Headache goes away and I feel a bit lighter, like I have just done a purge. My time and life is not worth the bad moods when I look at all the good I have.

Great post about a pesky subject affecting a lot of us folks.

Fluffy March 15, 2014 at 5:26 pm

This post could be summarized as “feel bad? fake it till you feel better”.

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