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Science Says People Who Are Moody Are Not Fragile, But More Adaptable

Science Says People Who Are Moody Are Not Fragile, But More Adaptable

Moody people are often thought as difficult people to deal with. Also, there is a sneaking suspicion that they are just being childish and they are mentally fragile.

Women get a raw deal when their bad moods are noticed much more than men, as pointed out in Dr. Julie Holland’s book Moody Bitches. She argues convincingly that women’s moods are a strength, rather than a weakness. A new study from University College of London recently appearing in the Trends in Cognitive Sciences journal also confirms that moodiness is not a bad thing at all and may actually have a biological purpose.

Moods make us more adaptable

The main findings in the UCL study, led by Dr. Eran Eldar, suggest that moods have had an important role in helping us to adapt as we evolved. They are distinct advantages.

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“It’s long been known that mood biases our judgments and perceptions, but this effect has usually been regarded as irrational or disadvantageous.” – Dr. Eran Eldar.

Eldar’s work indicates that moods are a very useful tool in helping us to adapt to our surroundings. They provide the basis for useful learning experiences and prepare us better when we are faced with similar situations in the future.

Moods will change our behavior

When we are in a good mood, the positive glow affects our behavior and makes us more adaptable. An example is a stock trader who gains from an investment. His good mood now means he is more prepared to take risks which will help to respond more quickly to a rising market.

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We can think of it rather like the good mood becoming more a permanent state as the rewards gain in value. But they are also interconnected so we can see them having a ripple effect as we gain success in skills, wealth and social status, not to mention success in finding a soulmate.

“This effect of mood should be useful whenever different sources of reward are interconnected or possess an underlying momentum.” – Dr.Eran Eldar

Bad moods will be equally effective in the diminishing returns and convince us that outcomes are worse than they really are. How many times have we said to ourselves, “I knew this was going to happen.” Our expectations are an exact match of all the punishment and negative consequences raining down on us from a merciless sky. In addition, negative moods really can affect our decision making and reasoning.

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More studies in this area may lead to a better understanding of depressive and bipolar disorders.

Moods can help us adapt to change

In our evolutionary past, we had to adapt to changes in the seasons and the environment. Moods are really like an evolutionary relic. They reflect how early humans had to adapt to finding food when certain meteorological and seasonal changes were crucial to survival.

Warmer temperatures and more available food were positive factors which reinforced the rewards and chances of survival. Winter and colder temperatures were representative of declining rewards and resulted in different behavior, such as having to hibernate to survive and, of course, a lower mood.

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Moods can be reinforced by our thoughts

Another study carried out among bipolar students at the University of Lancaster in the UK, found that positive and negative thoughts were important behavior indicators. The positive thoughts such as repeating a mantra which states that you will indeed do well were influencing moods and subsequent behavior. When the negative thoughts such as fear of having a breakdown were activated, behavior and mood went into a downward spiral. Neutral thoughts, such as acknowledging that you have a lot on your plate, were not nearly as influential in determining mood.

Of course, moods are not the whole answer, fortunately. They are just one element in a complex web of tangled elements such as mind, body, diet, exercise, weather, and social relationships. The important lesson from all this is to realize how moods can help us to adapt to changes more easily. They always have and they always will.

“You cannot find peace by avoiding life.” – Virginia Woolf

More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on December 10, 2019

5 Smart Reasons to Start Journal Writing Today

5 Smart Reasons to Start Journal Writing Today

Here’s the truth: your effectiveness at life is not what it could be. You’re missing out.

Each day passes by and you have nothing to prove that it even happened. Did you achieve something? Go on a date? Have an emotional breakthrough? Who knows?

But what you do know is that you don’t want to make the same mistakes that you’ve made in the past.

Our lives are full of hidden gems of knowledge and insight, and the most recent events in our lives contain the most useful gems of all. Do you know why? It’s simple, those hidden lessons are the most up to date, meaning they have the largest impact on what we’re doing right now.

But the question is, how do you get those lessons? There’s a simple way to do it, and it doesn’t involve time machines:

Journal writing.

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Improved mental clarity, the ability to see our lives in the big picture, as well as serving as a piece of evidence cataloguing every success we’ve ever had; we are provided all of the above and more by doing some journal writing.

Journal writing is a useful and flexible tool to help shed light on achieving your goals.

Here’s 5 smart reasons why you should do journal writing:

1. Journals Help You Have a Better Connection with Your Values, Emotions, and Goals

By journaling about what you believe in, why you believe it, how you feel, and what your goals are, you understand your relationships with these things better. This is because you must sort through the mental clutter and provide details on why you do what you do and feel what you feel.

Consider this:

Perhaps you’ve spent the last year or so working at a job you don’t like. It would be easy to just suck it up and keep working with your head down, going on as if it’s supposed to be normal to not like your job. Nobody else is complaining, so why should you, right?

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But a little journal writing will set things straight for you. You don’t like your job. You feel like it’s robbing you of happiness and satisfaction, and you don’t see yourself better there in the future.

The other workers? Maybe they don’t know, maybe they don’t care. But you do, you know and care enough to do something about it. And you’re capable of fixing this problem because your journal writing allows you to finally be honest with yourself about it.

2. Journals Improve Mental Clarity and Help Improve Your Focus

If there’s one thing journal writing is good for, it’s clearing the mental clutter.

How does it work? Simply, whenever you have a problem and write about it in a journal, you transfer the problem from your head to the paper. This empties the mind, allowing allocation of precious resources to problem-solving rather than problem-storing.

Let’s say you’ve been juggling several tasks at work. You’ve got data entry, testing, e-mails, problems with the boss, and so on—enough to overwhelm you—but as you start journal writing, things become clearer and easier to understand: Data entry can actually wait till Thursday; Bill kindly offered earlier to do my testing; For e-mails, I can check them now; the boss is just upset because Becky called in sick, etc.

You become better able to focus and reason your tasks out, and this is an indispensable and useful skill to have.

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3. Journals Improve Insight and Understanding

As a positive consequence of improving your mental clarity, you become more open to insights you may have missed before. As you write your notes out, you’re essentially having a dialogue with yourself. This draws out insights that you would have missed otherwise; it’s almost as if two people are working together to better understand each other. This kind of insight is only available to the person who has taken the time to connect with and understand themselves in the form of writing.

Once you’ve gotten a few entries written down, new insights can be gleaned from reading over them. What themes do you see in your life? Do you keep switching goals halfway through? Are you constantly dating the same type of people who aren’t good for you? Have you slowly but surely pushed people out of your life for fear of being hurt?

All of these questions can be answered by simply self-reflecting, but you can only discover the answers if you’ve captured them in writing. These questions are going to be tough to answer without a journal of your actions and experiences.

4. Journals Track Your Overall Development

Life happens, and it can happen fast. Sometimes we don’t take the time to stop and look around at what’s happening to us at each moment. We don’t get to see the step-by-step progress that we’re making in our own lives. So what happens? One day it’s the future, and you have no idea how you’ve gotten there.

Journal writing allows you to see how you’ve changed over time, so you can see where you did things right, and you can see where you took a misstep and fell.

The great thing about journals is that you’ll know what that misstep was, and you can make sure it doesn’t happen again—all because you made sure to log it, allowing yourself to learn from your mistakes.

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5. Journals Facilitate Personal Growth

The best thing about journal writing is that no matter what you end up writing about, it’s hard to not grow from it. You can’t just look at a past entry in which you acted shamefully and say “that was dumb, anyway!” No, we say “I will never make a dumb choice like that again!”

It’s impossible not to grow when it comes to journal writing. That’s what makes journal writing such a powerful tool, whether it’s about achieving goals, becoming a better person, or just general personal-development. No matter what you use it for, you’ll eventually see yourself growing as a person.

Kickstart Journaling

How can journaling best be of use to you? To vent your emotions? To help achieve your goals? To help clear your mind? What do you think makes journaling such a useful life skill?

Know the answer? Then it’s about time you reap the benefits of journal writing and start putting pen to paper.

Here’s what you can do to start journaling:

Featured photo credit: Jealous Weekends via unsplash.com

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