Have you ever awoken in a kind of haze of sleepy distraction, wandering through your morning routine half-aware of your environment and vaguely thankful that the coffee pot didn't move during the night? Have you ever found yourself, an hour later, returning to self-awareness only to find that you're in a mood?
Not a good one.
One of those moods.
Where do these dark and stormy moods come from? Could it be that the dark and stormy night planted its seed into your brain? Or is the seed nurtured along by the lingering grey, rumbling clouds visible outside every window in your house? Could it be the two o'clock wake-up by a tween who was in a mood of his own? Could it go back even further to your bedtime routine and the frustration of realizing that your Nook battery had been drained by too many games of Angry Birds Rio played not by you but by your youngest who snuck the Nook during the day when you weren't looking?
Angry bird, indeed.
Perhaps I'm looking for explanations in the wrong places. Perhaps the mood arises not from my environment but from inside me. Perhaps it has to do with hormones, brain chemistry, pesky little molecules and electrical impulses screwing with my head. Perhaps we are all simply victims, innocent automatons fulfilling our genetic programming, which includes a detailed sub-routine that gives us the mere illusion that we have free will and can control our moods.
Whether the mood springs from environment or chemical soup, I find it unacceptable in myself and almost as soon as I became aware of it, I began brainstorming ways of shaking it. (Sub-routine of illusion be damned.) Being generally happy is addictive, and when happiness eludes me, I chase after it with determination.
1. Pray. In these moods, I find it helpful to be grateful, and thanking God for this wonderful life can push away those grey clouds in my brain. List your blessings in gratitude to the Creator. It helps.
2. Seek out a temporary pleasure. The idea is to jump-start a better mood by distracting myself from the bad one. It's best to keep these temporary pleasures innocent and non-fat. Guilt is a grey-mood generator of insidious power. I checked out a couple of funny blogs and websites this morning. Seeing a giant cake of the space shuttle that looked like a p*nis helped. Not sure what that says about me, actually, but whatever works.
3. Reframe the situation. In the old days, this was called "looking for the silver lining" but metaphorical language doesn't sound professional enough for psychologists, so now it's "reframe the situation."
I was lazy last night and didn't water our yard, even though it really needed it. During the night, we experienced a rather alarming storm which, when it woke me, made me worry about the recycling bin I'd put out last night. Was the trash blowing all over the road and our yard? Would I have to start my day picking it up. Grrrr.
This morning, however, I sought to reframe that negative thought by reminding myself that the storm took care of watering the yard far more effectively than our tripod sprinkler could have done...and at no cost to us. That storm and the others hovering off to our west are blessings to our parched earth and our water bill. Bring them on!
4. Exercise. Our bodies were made to move, not to sit at a computer typing. After I drop Jack at summer school this morning, I will hop onto the rowing machine and get the endorphins flowing. They have the power to kick the bad chemicals' asses.
Body, mind, and soul. We are all three of these at once, and bringing all three out of a bad mood takes conscious, deliberate, and determined effort. As long as our brain chemistry isn't truly messed up by serious mental illness, we can change our mood in a number of different ways: doing something kind to help another person, reading the Bible or other inspiring books or blogs, getting a job finished (even if it's just cleaning the crumbs out of the toaster or picking up trash from a storm), watching something funny on television, listening to and singing along with happy music, petting a dog or cat, meditating on some blessing or happy thought...the possibilities are endless.
What do you do to kick a bad mood's ass?