The Principle of Moods
Richard Carlson

  
Just as we are constantly thinking as human beings, our level of awareness that we are doing the thinking is constantly changing.  This constant shifting in our awareness of ourselves as the thinker is what is known as changing "moods."  Up, down, up, down, every minute, every day, our mood level is on the go.  For some people, mood shifts are slight--for others, extreme.

In either case, the fact remains:  we are never in one place emotionally for too long.  Just when it seems like life is going smoothly, bam, our mood level drops and life again seems rocky.  Or, just when life seems hopeless, our mood lifts and everything seems all right again.

When you're in a high mood, life looks good.  You have perspective and common sense.  In high moods, things don't feel so hard, problems seem less formidable and easier to solve.  In a high mood, relationships flow easily and communication is easy and graceful.  In low moods, life looks unbearably serious and hard.  You have little perspective; it seems as if people are out to get you.  Life seems to be all about you.  You take things personally and often misinterpret those around you.

These characteristics of moods are universal.  They are true for everyone.  There isn't a person alive who is happy, fun to be around, and easygoing in a low mood, or who can stay bummed out, defensive, angry, and stubborn in a high mood.

Our Moods Are Always Changing

People don't realize their moods are always on the run.  They think instead that their life has suddenly become worse in the past day, or the last hour.  Take the example of a client who came to me initially because he perceived himself to have serious relationship problems with his wife.  He came to my office on two consecutive days.  On the first day he was glowing, even bragging, about how much fun he'd had with his wife over the weekend.  As he described it, they had laughed, played, talked, and taken romantic walks.  Clearly, he was in a high mood.  The next day he came in complaining about the lack of gratitude he felt from his wife for all he was doing for her.  "She never appreciates anything I do," he said.  "She is the most ungrateful person I've ever met."

"What about yesterday?" I asked.  "Weren't you telling me how wonderful everything was between you?"

"I was, but I was dead wrong.  I was deceiving myself and have been for our entire marriage.  I think I want a divorce."

Such a quick and complete contrast may seem absurd, even funny--but we're all like that.  In low moods we lose our ability to listen, and our perspective flies out the window.  Life seems serious, important, and urgent.

Moods Are Part of the Human Condition

Moods are a human condition.  You can't avoid them.  You aren't going to stop changing moods by reading this book--that can't happen.  What can happen is that you can understand that moods are a part of being human.  Rather than staying stuck in a low mood, convinced you are seeing life realistically, you can learn to question your judgment when you're in this state.  You will always see life and the events in it differently, in different moods.  When you are in a low mood, learn to pass it off as simply that:  an unavoidable human condition that will pass with time, if you leave it alone and avoid giving it too much attention.

With an understanding of moods, we can learn to be appreciative of our highs and graceful in our lows.  This contrasts sharply with what most of us do in a low mood--where we try to think, figure, or force our way out of it.  But you can't force your way out of a low mood any more than you can force yourself to have a good time doing something you don't like.  The more force (or thought) you put into it, the lower you sink. . . . When we understand the power that our moods have on our perspective, we will no longer need to react to or be victims of them.  Things will eventually appear to us very differently if we just let them be, for now.
   

Many people believe they can only be happy when their problems are solved, relationships improve, and goals are achieved. In this simple guide, Dr. Richard Carlson shows readers how to be happy right now — no matter the situation. His plan, based on the principles of Thought (thoughts are voluntary); Mood (thinking is a voluntary function that varies from moment to moment and these variances are called moods); Separate Realities (everyone thinks in a unique way and lives in separate psychological realities); Feelings (feelings and emotions serve as a barometer for when one is “off-track” and headed for unhappiness); and the Present Moment (the only time when genuine contentment, satisfaction, and happiness are possible).

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How do I change?
If I feel depressed I will sing.
If I feel sad I will laugh.
If I feel ill I will double my labor.
If I feel fear I will plunge ahead.
If I feel inferior I will wear new garments.
If I feel uncertain I will raise my voice.
If I feel poverty I will think of wealth to come.
If I feel incompetent I will think of past success.
If I feel insignificant I will remember my goals.
Today I will be the master of my emotions.

Og Mandino