Is it Worth It to Improve Your Moods by All Means?
Most of us do not like being in a bad mood and will do almost anything to improve it.
I think of moods as having no exact starting or ending. Moods, unlike emotions, are not targeted or aimed at anything or anyone in particular. However, they do affect how we compose ourselves. They also tend to last longer than emotions. For example, a good mood – such as when I listen to jazz uninterrupted – tends to make me be more open to outside people and things. A bad mood tends to make me focus on me and me alone.
I suppose that there is an evolutionary reason for the association between mood/emotional states and the environment.
In my great, jazzy moods, I feel safe, secure, and unafraid to share and experience my world with the others. The key term here is ‘experience’, or what scientists call a “heuristic mode of information processing”. In layman’s terms, when I am in a good mood I am loving, accepting, tolerant, and patient. But when the negative mood takes up residence, I hesitate and put up a guard as a response to potential danger. This fosters over-analytical, detail-oriented behavior. I also become anxious, tense, nervous and worried.
There are lots of ways we employ to improve our bad moods. Junk food, overeating, video games, Internet surfing, excessive drinking, or over-shopping come to mind as the typical pleasure-seeking activities. Anyone who has ever engaged in one or more of those behaviors can tell you that they simply do not improve bad moods. Still, there could be some serious health and social consequences to self-indulging activities.
So, if such attempts to improve you moods are ineffective, why would you even try to lift your adverse mood? Would it not be more expedient to just put up with it?
If being in a bad mood makes you more analytical and rational, should you refrain from wanting to improve your negative mood especially when confronted with making important decisions? Studies show that in a bad mood, our attention is more selective and we tend to make fewer errors. Conversely, the study participants who were in a good mood often acted very quickly and without thinking which caused them to make more errors.
Maybe we should embrace our bad, poor moods. Or, perhaps, we ought to learn to avoid certain responsibilities depending on the mood we are in.
I would love to hear from you about how you navigate your moods.