It's all in the mood!
by Paul Smetana
(Wollongong - Australia)
Now here’s a funny thing!
Here I am, one moment feeling all good and chirpy, and in the next, I’m in the armpit of despair. This keeps on happening, not the armpit, the despair.
Even though I see myself as being a ”know it all” about the ups and downs of life and even having the wonderful access to feeling good at will, the roller coaster of moodiness just keeps on rolling along.
And I’m starting to think that it’s your fault. Did you have anything to do with it. Did you swerve in traffic to drive me deliberately crazy? Did you start mowing the grass next door, because you knew I was home?
Did You set up floods of rain on the one day I’m in the car ALL day long? Well of course you aren’t to blame, although I’d like to think so. It would make everything, easier somehow, … Oh well!
So why am I so easily affected. Why do so many things make me mad, drive me crazy, and affect my moods so fast? Is it just me, or do I need to adjust my medication?
Having spent my whole life in the pursuit of happiness, and now able to produce waves of happiness almost at will, I still get driven to distraction by the mood tides. So what’s going on?
So I’ve come up with an idea. It’s the ”Pavlov’s Dog” proposition. Pavlov, as you will no doubt remember, is famous for getting dogs to salivate for no better reason than a bell rings.
My idea is that the flood of moods, magically appears for another astoundingly good reason, with no bells added. I told you I was smart. And while no one rings any bells, they may as well have, because the effect is no less startling for that.
I think that events made us moody, and that they took place a long time ago. And then got repeated many times. And now they are totally linked to a particular mood.
Consider how a loud noise could cause a young child to be anxious. If there was anxiety at the time of the noise, and that combination of event and mood got repeated often enough, that loud noise for the rest of time could continue to cause anxiety.
The noise doesn’t even have to be unpleasant. It may even have been a good noise that got connected to anxiety, like Mozart, or a trickling stream, or a marching band. It doesn’t really matter, because from then on, they’re connected.
Multiply every event we have ever had, to the moods we were in at the time, and you’d find again and again, this weird mood altering magic, so much so that our moods of the moment, seem to come out of nowhere. Hey Presto!
If we can have a phobic reaction to ”Cheese”, elevators and hamburgers”, (not necessarily in that order), then we can get huge moods swings from exposure to anything, and something else, … Nobody else will have the same event wiring to moods, as you do. Do you see that? Do you???, … Oh well.
So one person will love the dulcet tones of lawn mowers, while another wants to commit murder. Guess which one is me. One person flourishes under stress, while another becomes cross eyed and hyperventilating. Again guess.
So it seems, we all are lumbered with this history of linking moods with events, it’s a wonder we can function at all. Some might comment, ”You call this functioning?” not me, I’d never say it. Too polite!
Look, I’m not saying that, ”that’s the way it is”, well actually I am. And, I’m also saying that we can re condition our moods if we wanted to. So I guess I’m not, …ehh?
Perhaps, that’s what the whole positive focus movement is all about. Making the change to a better place. Exploring all the very many ways to get a better balance in our moods, and to be more selectively reactive to events, that are more in line with our wishes, or something. I’ll leave it with you.