The Rhythm of Mood

“I’m thinking.”

I find myself inadvertently blurting this out when I get mental overload. Most times I’m alone with nobody around to hear it. We all go through different moods, but the involuntary phrases intrigue me. Surely they’re a reflection of my mental state.

This week it’s been “I’m thinking.” This one tends to happen when my brain gets going too quickly and my thoughts start to race. It was brought on by back to back long sessions of online poker. I haven’t played much in the past year, so trying to jump back in full speed probably wasn’t the best play. 

When I fall into this mood, it tends to linger for a while. One second I’m writing an article, then all of the sudden I’m down a rabbit hole. The questions instantly begin to mount and I have to remind myself:

I’m thinking.

I’m not sure if saying that snaps me out of my rabbit hole trance or just reminds me not to take the thoughts too seriously. Normally it’s not a big deal, but when my brain is fried, I need to remind myself to slow down.

I guess that’s why I do it.

But that’s just one of my go-to phrases. Another one is, 

“That’s interesting.” 

It’s super simple, but sometimes I find myself stuck on this expression too. Whether in conversation or in reaction to seeing something. And I’ll admit, when I’m in this mood, I definitely find things to be more interesting than normal. Maybe even classifying things that really aren’t that interesting as interesting. But For whatever reason, it’s just the rhythm I fall into. 

I’ll have to pay attention next time I find myself in one of these episodes and see if I can find the trigger. If I can cultivate this mindset and be able to do this intentionally, I can see a lot of value in that. 

“****.”

To be honest, I don’t know if I have similar negative negative or pessimistic cycles as well. I’m sure that I do – I’m just not as good at recognizing them yet, or maybe I don’t have any phrases.

All of these slips are like involuntary windows into my mental state. Aside from being a bit transparent, I don’t see any real issues with them. I think that it’s interesting and provides me with insights I may otherwise miss.

Mood manipulation

Onto the topic of mood manipulation. I have two lines of thinking here.

On one hand, I think there’s something to be said about the ebb and flow of moods and necessity to go through all states of mind, not just the good ones. How you feel is a reflection of what’s going on in your life. If everything is going well, you’re bound to feel great. If things aren’t going so great, it might be manifested through sadness, depression, nervousness, or anxiety. Because sure, I never want to be sad, but sometimes in order to address the underlying issues or feelings, I have to be sad. The negative feelings are our red flags. They’re an indication that something’s wrong and that we need to address it. We need to slow down, take a step back, and reassess.

On the other hand, if we have ways to ‘hack’ our moods and go from feeling sad to feeling inspired why wouldn’t we? It seems like a no-brainer. Being inspired obviously feels much better and I would posit we’re more likely to make progress and find solutions too. 

Which leads us to the crux of the argument thus far: the value of negative emotions and negative states of mind. 

The negatives?

Negative emotions are objectively less enjoyable than their positive counterparts. They’re tougher to deal with, less desirable, and come with less obvious benefits. 

Hypothetically, let’s say you had a magic button that when pressed, your mood would instantly shift to inspiration. Would you use it?

Do you think there would be any negative ramifications from doing so?

This gets me thinking about emotions and what it means to process them. Throughout life, we will all go through some extremely difficult times. Death, tragedy and loss are some obvious examples. A loved one dying is a time when we would be most tempted to press our button. 

The more important it is for us to process, the less we want to do it. 

Because it sucks! It’s sad, it’s difficult, and it hurts. It’s a painful process that only subsides with time. It’s varies among people, but the grieving process requires time, sadness, and reflection. So I think by using this button, we would miss out on the process which could lead to some very messy and unresolved feelings.

Well then

That said, would you still use the button?

Maybe only for occasional inspiration? Maybe we never use it to escape a negative state of mind? Or maybe we only use to escape boredom?

I don’t know. 

I know for me personally, everything seems to work together as one giant complex system. My mood is some combination of my thoughts, actions, beliefs, and feelings mixed with other people, situations, circumstances, and feedback. There’s a lot that goes into it and it’s not always obvious what exactly’s going on. But I’ve found that with a little digging, I can find clues and signs that point me in the right direction. There’s a lot of value to be gained by processing and trying to understand all of our emotions.

If I do find a way to hack my mood though, I’ll be sure to let you guys know.

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7 comments

  1. sometimes perhaps the “hacking” comes from not trying to hack it, just sit with it and watch it pass…accepting it, it shall dissipate faster…

      1. 🙂 i agree it can feel very scary. trying to control it is our mental instinct. but letting go might bring surprising results. the challenge is to fight the urge to struggle when you feel like you are drowning. when you think you have “sunk in” the sand, you might wake up to find you can breathe after all.

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