How To Get Out Of A Bad Mood? Recognize It’s Transient
Nothing lasts forever.
Be it good or bad, the only thing we can say for sure is that our mental state will change.
Just reflect on your own experience. It testifies to this truth.
Imagine you’re angry because you’re running late to work. Subsequently, you almost cause a massive car accident due to your reckless speeding. Does your rage continue?
How about this, envision that you’re upset due to people gossiping about you at work. Yet, somehow a mysterious amusement park fairy dumps you onto a rollercoaster. Do you still experience that specific discomfort after a few loops and drops?
Have you ever gone on a treadmill in one mood and came off in another?
Or better yet, ever go into a conversation in one mood and exit in another?
Or even better, can your mood simply sustain a damn meal?
Ironically, each time your mood changes so does your world.
Don’t miss this insight, it’s crucial for landing safely on the other side.
If you’re in a bad mood and someone is late to your appointment you label them as selfish and inconsiderate.
On the contrary, if you’re in a good mood you identify their tardiness as a symptom of their free spirited and spontaneous nature.
If you’re in a bad mood and someone wants love from you, they’re needy. If your mood is good, they’re nurturing.
If your mood is low and you want love from someone but they resist, they are distant and cold. If your mood is high, you admire their courage to be vulnerable and transparent about how they feel.
In a high mood the antique car is a classic; when you’re low it’s a clunker.
In a high mood you’re the hero. In a low mood you’re the victim. I’m confident you’re picking up what I’m putting down.
The whole world is built upon one giant context and that context is the mood!
A mood is just a feeling state.
And nothing is more finicky than a human being’s feeling state.
Now, this is important, you can’t really force change a feeling state.
Apart from the amusement park fairy, or serious rushes of adrenaline, it’s not something you can control very easily.
Truthfully, any attempt to intentionally escape it makes it worse.
The Hot Pepper Incident
It reminds me of the time I ate an extremely hot pepper. Granted, mild salsa is hot to me, so it doesn’t take much, but the metaphor holds some weight.
So, my wife is Dominican and loves spice. She once jokingly gave me a pepper to try and I, not understanding she was playing, moronically bit into it. Within moments my entire body went up in flames.
I was panicking and just wanted to escape the heat.
Naturally, I grabbed water to extinguish the fire. Alas, that made it a million times worse. I just had to breathe and wait it out.
Any attempt to counteract the flames with water, even ice water, just turned up the heat!
However, once I settled into it and took some deep diaphragmatic breaths, it vanished in no time.
Moods are just like this. When we try to fix, manage, or control the world around us in order to change them, it just turns up the volume on the mood we are trying to rid ourselves of.
Another beautiful illustration is the day my mother took my children to catch butterflies.
She had a four-step objective for the kiddos.
Step one: go to the sand dunes near my childhood home that happens to be the home to a million butterflies.
Step two: give the kids jars.
Step three: instruct them to catch as many as possible.
Step four: revel is the glory of enslaved butterflies.
Only, some unexpected hiccups arose. My two oldest children feverishly swung and scooped with their jars but right at the cusp of the containers the butterflies would escape to freedom. Close, but no cigar.
So, they tried harder and harder.
They put their minds together in an effort to strategize and capture these winged escapologists, as Confucius said, “many hands make for light work.”
Unfortunately, fate had other plans in mind. The effort they exerted was met with equal effort by the butterflies.
As I watched this unfold I found my attention falling upon my youngest daughter, a one year old at the time, just standing there with literally zero effort and clue yet a jar full of butterflies.
That’s when insight ultimately crashed the party. It hit me like a bag of bricks.
Trying to force a change in mood is like trying to catch butterflies.
The harder and harder you try to fix, manage, and control your environment to “feel” a specific way only results in an increase in the feeling you’re trying to escape.
It’s like the saying, “what you resist, persists.”
When a low mood strikes, don’t resist it, flow with it, surf it out, and let the butterflies come to you.
In any event, next time your neurons start firing off the idea that your current state is permanent. Just give it a minute. Your body is no more capable of remaining in one consistent mood than a bottomless cup is capable of retaining fluid.
Observe The Thought
Moods don’t emerge in a vacuum.
They may seem frequently random, but the truth is they are intimately connected to thoughts.
In fact, all feelings are born of thought.
Along these lines the mood is the best barometer for the quality of your thoughts.
The reason your mood changes after the near fatal accident is because your thoughts change.
It’s the same with the rollercoaster, the treadmill, the conversation, and the meal.
Mood will direct you to the content of your thoughts. Subsequently, this will lead you to what you’re paying attention to.
You Are What You Pay Attention To
The fact of the matter is that your brain can only observe one thing at a time. Yes, it’s an unparalleled supercomputer, but your attention is singular and cannot see two separate things simultaneously.
If you don’t believe me, look at the optical illusion below.
Do you see a young woman or an older woman? They both coexist in the picture, but they cannot coexist in your attention.
You can only see the young woman when you stop seeing the old woman and vice versa.
The maxim here is that where your attention goes your energy flows.
What you’re seeing in the world isn’t the only thing existing, but it’s all you’re paying attention to at that moment.
Moreover, your feelings about whatever you paying attention to are directly proportional to your thoughts about it.
If you look at the young woman and notice she reminds you of your high school sweetheart that cheated on and demoralized you, your feelings will likely be sad, angry, lonely and/or apathetic.
However, if she reminds you of your spouse, your thoughts might turn to the beautiful family and life you’ve built. Correspondingly, that will produce feelings of joy, contentment, and perhaps hopeful anticipation.
The moral of the story is the color of your current world is shaded by the story you’re telling yourself about it.
In this sense, it’s not even real! Yes, it feels real, but you’ve created 100% it.
In other words, not only is your experience impermanent, but it’s informed by a story you’ve created.
Sydney Banks On How To Get Out Of A Bad Mood
Sydney Banks, a renowned philosopher, author, and lecturer, had a transformative insight into the mind and consciousness that led to the development of the Three Principles (Mind, Consciousness, Thought) philosophy.
According to this philosophy, ‘mood’ is reflective of the quality of our thinking.
Banks emphasized that our feelings are a reflection of our thoughts: positive thoughts often result in good feelings or high moods, whereas negative thoughts result in uncomfortable feelings or low moods.
He proposed that by understanding the nature of our thoughts and not seeing them as a fixed reality, we have the capacity to change our experience and thus our mood.
Banks encouraged individuals not to pay serious attention to their thinking when in a low mood, because their perception and judgment may be distorted. Instead, they should wait for their mood to naturally elevate, bringing more clarity and perspective.
For more detailed teachings, please refer to Sydney Banks’ work directly. His books, including “The Missing Link: Reflections on Philosophy and Spirit” and “The Enlightened Gardener”, provide a deeper understanding of his philosophy and its application to real-life circumstances.
Click to access our Mind Over Mood Worksheet!
George Pransky, one of the early pioneers of the 3 Principles, wrote:
“Moods are the constant shifts in perspective built into our experience of life. Our thinking and therefore our perceptions of life are a function of mood changes. Our thoughts are more optimistic, lighthearted, and wise when we are in a high mood…
Often people think of feelings as things to work through or deal with. But feelings were meant to be a barometer to help us maintain our emotional equilibrium. Feelings provide our moment-to-moment experience of life. They tell us the extent to which our perceptions are distorted by our moods and thought systems”
Its up to you. Will your mood be to your advantage or your downfall? The choice is yours!