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Well, that's a bit of an overstatement.

But the point is our bad moods do not have to lead to problems unless we allow them to!

That is not an overstatement.

What is a mood?

It is simply a temporary state of mind or feeling. The key word is "temporary." Our moods generally do not last. When a negative mood does last, it is no longer considered a mood, it is condition that usually requires outside help to shake.

Regular moods pass, however their impact on others can stick around much longer than could be imagined.

Moods are triggered by many things: good fortune, hormonal shifts, a long bike ride, too many weeks of cloudy weather, a peaceful night's sleep or lingering back pain. Sometimes we are able to pinpoint the cause of our mood, often we cannot. From month-to-month, day-to day, moment-to-moment, moods fluctuate. They take us joyfully upward or tumble us into misery.

This is the part I want to address.

Moods can provide us with reasons, even excuses, for our negative actions. We explain defensively, "I was exhausted." "You didn't do the dishes." "This job is killing me." "I didn't take my medicine." Situations surely influence our thoughts and feelings. But they are never the cause of our actions!

Never!

Here are some tested ideas for managing moods:

• Identify them for what they are...a mood. Name it. We can confidently call it a mood when nearly every thought is negative. It's like a storm cloud overhead. We think or say things like: "This will never work." "He's a jerk." "I'm a total wreck." Blah, blah, blah.

When nothing is positive, that's a mood. Again, if it doesn't pass, please get some help.

• Take a gentle, loving breath into your belly. Take a few more. These impede our downward spiral and assist our impending ascent. Remember, the first word in the dictionary under the word spirit is breath. Think about it!

• Remind yourself of what you already know: this mood is a passing cloud, a temporary condition. A mood is not who we are or will be even a few hours from now. Take a breath. Not one of us escapes moods.

• Express gratitude, even if you aren't feeling it. We are blessed in too many ways to ever realize. Begin your list. Go slowly and feel each one. Family. Friends. Work. Music. Rainfall. Take another breath. Trees. Oceans. Fruit. Doctors and nurses. Our life.

Our expression of gratitude returns us to reality.

• Make a solemn pledge to hurt no one, regardless of your mood!

• Apologize from your heart whenever you violate this pledge. Then put all your effort into never doing it again.

Moods come and moods go.

You and I are the captain of our ship.

Sail on!

Burt Gershater is a counselor, author and motivational speaker living in Flagstaff. Visit www.burtgershater.com or contact him at info@burtgershater.com.

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