Sometimes we decide to be in a particular mood. You may be the first to arrive in an empty classroom and start thinking about the dull lesson ahead and feel bored. Then a person you really fancy walks in and you quickly decide to be in a different mood – happy and excited (or nervous). Hearing post drop through the letterbox and hearing a telephone or mobile phone seems to snap most of us into a curious mood the instant we hear the ring.
Mostly, we change moods without thinking about it. One of the most important things you can learn in life is that you can control your mood! And it’s not even very hard to do. You just need to think of the mood you’d like to be in, the mood most likely to get you the result you desire.
Then think about a time you were in that mood. Remember it in vivid detail, see what you saw, the colours, shapes, people and/or objects. Hear the sounds and let the feeling overwhelm you. Imagine you’re sitting watching yourself on a huge cinema screen having this positive feeling, then step into the picture, sounds and feeling fully.
Then capture the feeling by anchoring it. Choose different anchors for different moods.
You drive me mad!
Some people let other people control their moods. This is really daft! They say things, such as:
■ ‘You make me so angry.’
■ ‘You drive me mad.’
There are times when this can be OK. Some people, TV programmes and songs can take us to positive moods, such as ‘in love’, ‘happy’ and ‘excited’.
But it is generally best to be in control of your own moods, especially when you are around ‘mood hoovers’.
Research links many problems to bad moods: sleep problems, skin complaints, asthma, colds and flu, being tired and run down, headaches and digestive troubles and even more serious illnesses have been linked to remaining in bad moods. Perhaps they are our body’s way of asking
us to move in a positive direction.
A negative direction: mood hoovers!
Have you noticed how some people are miserable? Most of the time they tend to have a frown on their face. When these people head our way, we think, ‘Oh no, not him (or her)!’ and we hope they didn’t see us because we know that, as soon as they start talking, they’ll make us feel as miserable as they are.
I used to work with a really miserable woman. On my way to my office, I’d pass a kitchen and, if she was in it, I’d tiptoe quietly past, hoping she wouldn’t hear me. If she did, she would start talking and it felt as if she were sucking out all of my life force and energy. If she’d won the Lotto, she’d still be miserable: she’d whine, ‘Well it wasn’t a Rollover, I only won three million.’ They leave us feeling hoovered empty, like a squeezed-out lemon skin.
These people talk in a voice like fingernails scraping their way down a blackboard or the Child Catcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. They love saying things like, ‘I told you so’: ‘That’s ruined my day, that has’; ‘I hate Mondays’; ‘I can’t wait until I retire!’
We can all feel negative sometimes but some people stay there their whole life. What a hole to be in! Pity. Research suggests these people have poorer health, fewer friends and less happiness and success than those of us who aim in a positive direction.
Mood hoovers try to stamp on our dreams. Worse, they stamp on their own dreams.
A positive direction: mood movers
Other people seem to be happier, brighter and more cheerful. When they enter the room you’re in, you think, ‘Great, they’re fun!’ and you smile inside, feeling good. These are great people to be around because moods spread, and we’re kind of drawn towards them naturally, probably because these people tend to be happier and more successful and some of it rubs off on us and inside of us. This is the basis of charisma. If you want more charisma, move in a positive direction.
I worked with someone who had a great effect on those he worked with. He was able to laugh at himself and make us feel good about ourselves. He had a bad back – enough to make some people very miserable – but he made the best of it because he thought life was too short. He once had to go for a CAT scan (a whole-body X-ray). The next day, we asked him how he got on. He told us he’d found the room OK. The nurse told him to go behind the screen, take off his clothes and put on the gown.
‘I went behind the screen, took off all my clothes and put on the gown,’ he told us. ‘I noticed the gown only came down to just below my bellybutton. I thought, “Oh, this doesn’t cover my modesty.” Then I thought, “Oh, well, they’re medical people: they know what they’re doing.” So I walked out from behind the screen. The nurse then looked at me and said, “Aren’t you going to put on the trousers?” I went behind the screen, where the trousers had fallen behind a chair.’
Another time, he was at an important meeting and thought everyone was staring at him. When he went to the toilet and saw himself in the mirror, he realised the pen he had been chewing
had leaked blue ink all over his mouth. It looked awful. It looked worse after he tried to scrub
it off and left a big red mark around the blue one.
Laughter: the shortest distance between
This colleague was happy to share all of his experiences and enjoy them with us. Life is about having experiences and not being so boring that we do nothing for fear of looking silly. Don’t worry: if you do, people will identify with you and laugh with you. They laugh at us only when we try to cover things up, lying to others or ourselves.
Smile. It may happen. Victor Borge said laughter is the shortest distance between two people. Laughing is also the quickest way to get from negative to positive, from hoover to groover. A smile not only lights up your own face, inside and out, but also delights those around us. Wow, what a bonus!
Hoovers say, ‘I’ll laugh about this in ten years’ time.’
Groovers say, ‘I’ll laugh about it now and avoid wasting ten whole years of my life.’
Moving in a positive direction
If a positive direction and positive moods are so good, why would anyone ever point in a negative direction?
One answer comes from the way we learn. To learn, we need to try, have a go and be prepared not to master every skill first time round. David Beckham probably didn’t get his first-ever free kick in the top corner of the net. He didn’t give up, but practised and practised. Most things we learn take lot of practice – learning to talk, walk, tie our shoelaces, read, write, catch a ball, drive, fly a plane are all big achievements.
When a baby first starts to make gurgling word sounds, we offer encouragement, not criticism. We don’t shout at them to stop. We don’t yell, ‘Shut up! Speak properly! It’s a cup, a cup! Not a phut-phut! You stupid baby! You can’t talk! You’re a disgrace to yourself and your family! Crawl to your room – now!’
That would be silly, going in a negative direction, but that’s what most children and adults get
used to as they get older.
Researchers have found that for every positive comment a parent makes to their children, they make nine negative comments. Parents are surprised, because they think the balance is around half and half. Parents, teachers and friends don’t mean to be so mean. Smile as you encounter negative comments; use the bubble technique (see ‘Energy bubble’ on Page 117) to make them bounce off you. Years of hearing that we’re not good enough can be enough to ensure we stay that way throughout our whole lives.
Sea squirts are interesting animals. As babies they swim along the ocean floor until they find a rock. Then they latch on to it and stay there for the rest of their lives. Once stuck on a rock, they eat their own brains, because they don’t need one any more – they’ve settled somewhere. They are also called dead man’s fingers. Some people behave in the same way: they settle in a negative place, using negative behaviour and getting negative results. Some people stay there for years. Some form bands and sing about it. If someone sings to you, ‘I feel like a cat in a bag waiting to drown’ or ‘Why does it always rain on me?’ reply, ‘Because you’re pointing in a negative direction, mate!’