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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 October 22, 2020

11 Tips for Maintaining a Positive Attitude Every Day

11 Tips for Maintaining a Positive Attitude Every Day

Maintaining a positive attitude is critical when you want to achieve anything or simply improve the quality of your life. Most success literature will talk about the power of positive thinking and how important it is, but it’s often easier said than done.

In this article, you’ll find 11 tips for maintaining your positive attitude no matter what’s going on in your life.

1. You Determine Your Reality

It’s important to realize that you determine your reality by the way you react to the outside world. When something happens, you get to choose whether it’s a positive or negative situation and react accordingly.

For example, if you lose your job, your first reaction will likely be one of anger, frustration, and hopelessness. However, what if you were able to turn those emotions around and look at that experience as an opportunity.

You now have the chance to find a job where you will be able to learn new skills and perhaps even be happier. And in the meantime, you have some free time to analyze what direction you want the next stage of your life to go in.

2. Start Your Day Strong

Most people have to drag themselves out of bed, and this sets a negative state of mind for their entire day. Positive people create a long-term morning ritual that reinforces how great life is and how happy they are to be alive.

I used to wake up and immediately turn on Bon Jovi’s “It’s My Life to get me into a positive mood. Now I start my day by reading or listening to something positive. Whether you have 1 minute, 15 minutes, or an hour to dedicate to your ritual, you can start the day in a way that helps you feel relaxed and ready for the day ahead.

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Cultivate a positive attitude with a great morning routine.

    3. Exercise Is the Natural Feel-Good Drug

    Exercise is a great way to maintain a good attitude because of all the positive chemicals it releases into the bloodstream.

    One study found that between groups who participated in high-intensity interval training, moderate continuous training, and no exercise, those in the second group experienced the greatest drop in depressive symptoms and stress[1]. Therefore, if you’re looking to exercise to help you feel good, get your heart rate up, but don’t push too hard or you may increase overall stress.

    Also, remember that exercise can include many activities. If you don’t like running, try dancing or kickboxing instead. Put on some upbeat music to kick up the positive vibes even more.

    4. Use Books, Audio and Videos to Overload Your Brain with Positivity

    There are millions of amazing books, podcasts, and videos for you to absorb from people who are inspiring and living the life of their dreams. Tap into their positive emotions and their experience by learning how they think and what they do to create the lives they want.

    You can do this in the morning or while exercising, eating, commuting, cooking, cleaning… there’s always time for positivity.

    5. Your Language Shapes Your Thoughts

    Little changes in your language can change the way you think and how you act. Whenever someone greets you and asks how you’re doing, do you answer with “fine” or “not too bad”? Think about just what this language is communicating to others… and yourself.

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    I always answer with “great,” “fantastic,” or “amazing.” Not only does this remind me that life really is great, but it usually helps the other person shift toward a positive attitude as well.

    Also, take some time to look at the way your inner voice talks to you. Is that language positive or negative? If it’s overly critical or negative, it may be time to tap into some mindfulness meditation in order to shift your inner critic to an inner cheerleader.

    6. Hang out With Positive People

    It is often said that you will have a similar level of health, income and lifestyle as the five people you spend the most time with.

    So if you want to be fit, then start to hang out with fit people. Want to start a business? Then hang out with business owners. And if you want to be positive, make sure you’re hanging out with positive people[2].

    7. Show Your Appreciation for Others

    By appreciating others for a job well done, their outfit, or their smile, you start to cause a positive chain reaction. Stop complaining and focus on all the good others are doing around you.

    Don’t you feel great when you receive a compliment from someone else? Well, if you want to receive more, then start giving them out and watch what happens to the people around you.

    One particular study found that people who sent letters of gratitude experienced significant increases in happiness scores[3]. If you don’t feel like writing a letter, send a nice text to someone who recently helped you out, or send an email thanking your coworker for always helping pick up the slack around the office. Whatever it is, take some time to show gratitude.

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    8. Garbage In, Garbage Out

    This is an expression from programming where the result is only as good as the input. If you’re feeding yourself with negativity all day long, then it’s pretty obvious you’re going to be feeling negative as well.

    A great deal of the media thrives on negativity. Put yourself on a negativity diet (including people) and watch how much easier it is to maintain your positive attitude.

    9. Stop Negative Thoughts in Their Tracks

    It’s hard to be a constantly positive person, and negative thoughts are going to bubble up from time to time. These will be more frequent in the beginning but can decrease as you practice the tips we’re talking about. When you start to notice negative thoughts, you can use a pattern interrupt to stop them in their tracks.

    The idea is to interrupt your current thought pattern and shift to a more positive outlook. One way to do this is to set a visual or auditory cue. It can be something as simple as a bracelet you wear each day or the sound of a car passing outside your window. Whenever you see or hear the cue, use it to shift your thoughts to something positive.

    You can learn more on how to shift your mindset and negative attitudes in the following video:

    10. Live With Gratitude

    So many positive things happen during our day, and we often ignore them while letting one negative comment or event ruin our mood. It can help to keep a gratitude journal where you jot down things you are grateful for each night or during the day.

    If you’re reading this, then you probably live with a roof over your head and food in your belly, which is a daily struggle for a large portion of the world. However, we often take these things for granted and don’t realize just how great we have it.

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    Try refocusing your thoughts towards everything you do have instead of what you don’t. One study found that reflecting on past experiences with a sense of gratitude can lead to increases in both hope and happiness[4]. That’s a great reason to give it a go today.

    You can find more ways to practice gratitude in this article.

    11. Recharge Your Batteries

    One key to adopting a positive attitude is taking the time to recharge your batteries. This might mean taking a few hours on the weekend to read a positive book or taking a few weeks for a holiday.

    If you’re not in the position to travel, you can take a staycation, or have a “home holiday” where you simply switch off from the outside world and spend time doing things you love.

    Final Thoughts

    You now have 11 tips for maintaining your positive attitude, but they are no use to you unless you implement them into your life.

    Start small, and pick the easiest tip or the one that you really love and introduce it into your life starting right now. Then, over time, start implementing the other tips and watch your positivity soar.

    More Tips About Staying Positive

    Featured photo credit: Pepe Cast Zam via unsplash.com

    Reference

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