I wrote this back in 2015, and yet, it’s still true today.
Yes, it can be done–you can choose your mood! I know from experience that often when I’m having a pissy day, some stubborn little root inside my heart likes that pissy day, and doesn’t want to let it go. It’s the kind of indulgence that feels great at the time; afterward, not so much. There is a perverse pleasure in being Crabby von Crabbenstein for a few minutes, hours, or days. It’s like eating potato chips and chocolate ice cream for two days straight–-it’s fun for a while, but it isn’t sustainable.
Contrary to popular belief, bad moods don’t just drop down on us from the sky. Suffice it to say that they exist and that we all have them from time to time. The hard part is deciding if we want to stay in that bad mood, or lift ourselves out of it.
For years I couldn’t understand how to do that; how to make myself happy, or at least less miserable. But it is surprisingly simple to make that change. The longer I live, the more I realize that our mental pain comes from fear or resentment or just plain loneliness; we often feel that no one seems to want to be with us or appreciate us. That’s when it’s time to haul out the cheerleader pom-poms (and no–I never was a cheerleader in high school) and cheer for OURSELVES.
So here’s what I’ve been doing to at least show myself that I am still somewhat on the ball: I make a mental list each day. By the end of the day, there may only be things on it such as “I made the bed,” “I emptied the dishwasher,” “I made a pitcher of iced tea,” “I did a load of laundry,” and “I wrote and sent a letter to my uncle.” But they are accomplishments, little as they might be. That list cheers me up. Even though I still feel like I haven’t done much of anything, that list makes me feel that I am still in the game, and still doing something each day.
One of my favorite sayings comes from the wonderful Scottish folk: “many a mickle makes a muckle.” This means that many little things add up to big things, and that’s GOOD.
Additionally, I have learned to talk myself out of bad moods. There is an amazing power to hearing your own voice say, “now c’mon, that’s enough of being negative. Start thinking about all the many good things in your life.” Then what starts out as a little trickle of goodness becomes a flood of good things. Another trick in my tool bag is saying out loud (and it works so much better when you DO say it out loud), “I am NOT going to be in this bad mood! I’m going to have a GREAT day, and nothing is going to stop me from having it!”
Oh sure, if you’re doing this while driving (which I often do), people will probably stare at you, but so what? You are the one who is going to have a great day, no matter what their day is going to be. When some impatient twerp behind me roars by and gets one car length ahead of me, I say (again, out loud), “Good–I’d a whole lot rather have you ahead of me than behind me!” Wish them well and go on with your day.
So can it be that simple to change moods? Yup–it is, it truly is that simple. And if a cranky old crabasaurus like me can do it, so can you.