Have you ever been in a bad mood that you just can't shake? Or had a pile of homework but realized you're not in the mood to get it done? Sometimes we feel at the mercy of our moods — but moods aren't things that just happen to us. We can influence and change them.
Being able to choose the mood that's best suited to a situation is one of the skills of emotional intelligence. Choosing the right mood can help you control whatever situation you're in.
Moods can influence how well we do in certain situations, but so can something else: our mindset. What's the difference between a mood and a mindset? Moods are the emotions we feel. A mindset is the thoughts and ideas that go along with that mood.
Mood and mindset go hand in hand because our thoughts can influence our mood. Here's an example:
Imagine you're competing in a swim meet this afternoon. Which mood and mindset helps you do your best?
Of course, you're likely to do your best with the mood and mindset in option C. But what if you're feeling A or B and worry that those moods might affect your performance? Luckily, you can change your mood.
Step 1: Identify your mood. To switch moods, you need to check in with what you're currently thinking and feeling. That way you can decide if you need to change your mood to one that's more suited to your situation — or if you're in the best mood to begin with.
To identify a mood, stop and think about what you're feeling and why. Put those feelings into words, like, "Wow, I'm really sad right now" or "I'm feeling really alone." You can say this silently to yourself, out loud, or to someone else.
Step 2: Accept what you feel. After you name your emotion, show yourself some understanding for feeling the way you do. It's perfectly OK (and natural!) to feel bored on a rainy Saturday or annoyed about having to study when everyone else is going out. All emotions are acceptable and understandable. But you don't have to hold on to feeling that way. Notice your mood, then choose to move past it.
Step 3: Identify the mood that's best for the situation you're in. If you're competing in a swim meet, it's best to be pumped up and confident. If you need to get down to some serious studying, it's better to feel interested, alert, and confident (and not so helpful to feel grumpy, annoyed, and self-defeated). Take a minute to think about which emotions will help you accomplish your goal.
After you imagine the mood that's best suited for your task or situation, it's time to get into that mood. Think "P for positive" and focus on these 6 things that can help you reset your mood:
To get out of a mood that's unpleasant or unhelpful, think "U for U-turn." Try these mood changers:
You've probably chosen your mood before without even realizing it — many times people choose a mood naturally without thinking about it. But practicing ways to choose your mood intentionally can help you get good at it.
So next time you feel a strong mood, stop and name it. Ask yourself if it's the ideal mood for what you're trying to accomplish. Sometimes, even the happiest of moods might not be right for a particular situation (as anyone who's excited about weekend plans during Friday afternoon classes knows).
Reviewed by: D'Arcy Lyness, PhD
Date reviewed: March 2013
|American Psychological Association (APA) The APA provides information and education about a variety of mental health issues for people of all ages.|
|Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS) CMHS is a federal agency that provides information about mental health to users of mental health services, their families, the general public, policy makers, providers, and the media.|
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|Understanding Your Emotions Emotions help us relate to other people, know what we want, and make choices. Even "negative" emotions are useful. Find out how to understand emotions and use them effectively.|
|5 Ways to Be More Aware of Your Emotions Emotional awareness (knowing what we feel and why) helps us learn about ourselves and build good relationships. Here are 5 ways to get more in touch with your emotions.|
|About Stressful Feelings Negative emotions are impossible to avoid and everyone feels them from time to time. They may be difficult, but they don't have to be stressful. Find out how to deal with stressful feelings.|
|Emotional Intelligence Just as IQ is a way of being academically smart, emotional intelligence (EQ) is a way of being people-smart. But unlike IQ, we can work on improving our EQ. Here are some tips.|
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