Where Your Moods Really Come From: The Answer Might Surprise You by Dr. Larry Senn


Ever feel moody or irritated but you don't know why? Do you work with people who have mood swings and it impacts your day? This guest post by Dr. Senn is a must read. Pick up his book Mood Elevator and learn not only how to control your mood but tose around you.

If you ask someone who is in a bad mood to tell you why they aren’t feeling happy, they’ll usually rattle off different reasons that may sound like “my wife and I got into a fight, my work didn’t grant me the vacation time I asked for, I haven’t been sleeping well, etc.” The list could go on and on. Most people think that their feelings and moods are connected to outside circumstances that are out of their control.

What most people don’t realize is that our moods don’t come from the outside world, they come from our thinking. This explains why two people who go through the same circumstance have completely different reactions. A seemingly bad situation could cause one person to go into a tailspin and for the other person it’s barely a bump in the road. On the outside, they experienced the same thing but on the inside it was almost as if it was two separate events.

Good thoughts, bad thoughts, scary thoughts, and worried thoughts will all pop into our head daily. We can’t necessarily control the thoughts that come into our heads. We can however, make a decision of how we are going to deal with those thoughts.

Let’s take worry for an example; a thought like worry can pass through our mind like a car passing on the highway. On the other hand, we can also take a thought like worry and nurture it, feed it, and embellish it, and that’s where we can get into trouble. The point is not that worry is necessarily all bad, worry can have some benefits when it comes to motivating us or planning for the future. When worry gets to a point that it’s consuming you, causing you extended periods of unhappiness or affecting your work or personal life it’s time to take some action. Sometimes that action is simply telling yourself, “Don’t go there.”

There are some thoughts that are good to nurture. Thoughts of gratitude, happiness, appreciation, and creativity are great to stay in for a while- you can do things like making a gratitude list or sharing thoughts of appreciation to remain with those thoughts and feelings. It’s the thoughts that evoke the feelings on the bottom of the Mood Elevator that we need to starve.

Ask yourself the following questions:

·       Are there certain things or people that make you impatient or frustrated? If so, do you find yourself brooding about those experiences, savoring the details and stoking the flames of your annoyance?

·       Do you frequently feel irritated or bothered? If so, do you feed those emotions by complaining about them to friends and family?

·       Are you habitually defensive or insecure? If so, do you feed those emotions by constantly reminding yourself of your weaknesses, failings, and mistakes while forgetting about your strengths, victories, and accomplishments?

If you’re like most people, you do any number of these things. These are the kinds of actions that will keep you in your negative thoughts and feelings. Instead of embellishing worry or insecurity, you can acknowledge you feel that way and then take the next indicated action step. Sometimes the most important thing is to take some action instead of staying in your head. There is a saying that you can “act yourself into right thinking but it’s very difficult to think your way into right action.”

Now on the flipside, ask yourself these questions on how to be towards the top of the Mood Elevator more often:

·       Would you like to be more creative and innovative? If so, try giving yourself permission to expand your thinking to embrace more non-routine, out of the box concepts, whether on the job or in your personal life. Set aside time to brainstorm, daydream, and play with ideas.

·       Would you like to be more hopeful and optimistic? If so, make time every day to think about your future in a positive, upbeat way. Imagine something you’d like to achieve, then take one concrete step toward making it happen.

·       Would you like to be more patient and understanding? If so, strengthen these traits by practicing them whenever they are needed. When stuck in line at the bank, use the time for a quiet moment of mini-meditation; when annoyed by a colleague’s careless errors, offer to demonstrate a better way to get the job done.

Remember, you don’t have to be a passive passenger on the Mood Elevator. You can make a conscious decision where you want to spend more time and take the steps to feed the thoughts that will take you there.

About Dr. Larry Senn

Dr. Larry Senn pioneered the field of corporate culture and founded in 1978, Senn Delaney, the culture shaping unit of Heidrick & Struggles. A sought-after speaker, Senn has authored or co-authored several books, including two best-sellers. His newest is The Mood Elevator (August 2017), the follow up to his 2012 book, Up the Mood Elevator. You can learn more about Larry and his work at his website, www.themoodelevator.com.