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6 Surprising Things That Affect Your Mood

6 Surprising Things That Affect Your Mood

Wouldn’t it be fantastic if everybody was in a good mood all the time? But all sorts of things like insomnia, too much coffee, a nagging doubt or an unresolved argument seems to play havoc with your mood. But there are surprising things that can affect your mood too. Read on to discover if they can help you understand your mood meter.

1. Sleep in total darkness – you will love it

Did you know your wake sleep cycle can be disrupted if you are not sleeping in total darkness? Studies show light pollution coming from neighboring houses, street lighting, and poorly made curtains plus the absence of shutters, can affect sleep quality negatively. It may also be a precursor for depression. Here are some tips to make sure you can sleep in total darkness:

  • Cover up digital clocks and any appliances with a LED
  • Forget about night lights
  • Use blackout curtains over your window
  • Consider using a face-mask if you can’t block light pollution
  • Don’t fall asleep with the light or TV on, if possible

Not just your mood but your overall health can improve. Poor sleep quality has been linked to heart disease, diabetes, aging and mental disorders. This was revealed in the book by T.S. Wiley, called “Lights Out: Sleep, Sugar and Survival.”

2. Your posture reveals everything about you

When I was a kid, I remember the words of the song by Val Doonican which went like this: “Walk tall, walk straight and / Look the world right in the eye / She said ‘Son, be a proud man’ / And hold your head up high.” Sound advice and I still remember those words today and I am nearly 70 years of age! Watch the video if you want to see what I grew up on.

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Was Val Doonican’s songwriter on to something? Well, he was, because when you walk confidently and hold your spine correctly, you are immediately conveying to yourself and others around you that you are confident, optimistic and self-assured. I have never met anybody who slouched or sat hunched at his or her desk who was nothing less than miserable, pessimistic and a loser.

Are there any studies to show this is really the case?  Professor Erik Peper at San Francisco State University asked over 100 students to note their energy levels when they slouched down a corridor. They were then asked to skip down the corridor. Of course, they noted in the questionnaires afterwards, they had decreased energy levels when slouching. Now, the next time you attend a job interview, tell the world with your posture you are the right person for the job. You can thank me later!

3. The weather affects your mood… and the stock market 

We all know we feel much happier, healthier and more confident on a sunny day. There are countless studies to show we are essentially a meteoropathic species.

But did you know the sunshine can affect the stock market too? Traders are more bullish and more likely to take calculated risks on a sunny day. This is the result of a study which took 15 years to complete and studied the effects of the weather on stock exchanges in 26 countries!

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4. Don’t wear black, please!

I live in Italy and the most popular color in fashion at the moment is black! Absolutely funereal in a sunny country. But it is associated with an elegant lifestyle, such as ‘black tie’ and ‘black limousine.’ The only relief for me is when I see Indian women in the street with their lovely, brightly-colored saris.

Color affects our mood and there are sound anthropological reasons for this. Our ancestors regarded red as a color of danger in that it represented danger from fire but also heat and energy. Even now, our hearts beat faster when we see red and naturally it has become the color for emergency services, anger and stop signs.

Our language is full of colors as well. Reflect on these examples:

  • I am really browned off
  • This is a golden opportunity
  • He is green with envy
  • She was as white as a sheet
  • Like a red rag to a bull
  • He has a yellow streak
  • He was the black sheep of the family

The psychology of color is a fascinating area and used extensively in marketing. There are many anecdotal references and studies subjective in nature. More rigorous scientific studies are needed here. But, if changing your outfit to a brighter color lifts your mood, go for it.

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5. Use social media sparingly

Have you updated your Facebook today? If you have, you are probably feeling better. Facebook can help reduce loneliness, boost friendship and increase self-esteem. How many times have we laughed at a funny video posted on our Facebook page!

The bad news is when Facebook and other social media start to take over they may result in depression, break up marriages and may be a contributory cause of eating disorders.

“Everything in moderation, including moderation.” Oscar Wilde

6. Money makes the world go round

Is money the root of all evil? Money can’t buy happiness. Lottery winners are not happier than the rest of us and often encounter endless problems with managing their money and relationships.

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Research now shows when we start to donate to charity and help the needy with cash, we are much happier than when we might spend that money on ourselves. This was described in a recent TED talk by Michael Norton, a Harvard business professor. The other side of the coin is when people get into debt and suffer from depression, they sometimes commit suicide.

The secret is to realize money only temporarily leads to pleasure. The most important thing is to learn how to manage our finances wisely.

“I cannot think of a more personally rewarding and appropriate use of wealth than to give while one is living—to personally devote oneself to meaningful efforts to improve the human condition.” Chuck Feeney

What things really affect your mood?  Let us hear about them in the comments below.

Featured photo credit: If you want a rainbow/Jessica Keating Photography via flickr.com

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 March 14, 2019

7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

Recruiters might hold thousands of interviews in their careers and a lot of them are reporting the same thing—that most candidates play it safe with the questions they ask, or have no questions to ask in a job interview at all.

For job applicants, this approach is crazy! This is a job that you’re going to dedicate a lot of hours to and that might have a huge impact on your future career. Don’t throw away the chance to figure out if the position is perfect for you.

Here are 7 killer questions to ask in a job interview that will both impress your counterpart and give you some really useful insights into whether this job will be a dream … or a nightmare.

1. What are some challenges I might come up against this role?

A lesser candidate might ask, “what does a typical day look like in this role?” While this is a perfectly reasonable question to ask in an interview, focusing on potential challenges takes you much further because it indicates that you already are visualizing yourself in the role.

It’s impressive because it shows that you are not afraid of challenges, and you are prepared to strategize a game plan upfront to make sure you succeed if you get the job.

It can also open up a conversation about how you’ve solved problems in the past which can be a reassuring exercise for both you and the hiring manager.

How it helps you:

If you ask the interviewer to describe a typical day, you may get a vibrant picture of all the lovely things you’ll get to do in this job and all the lovely people you’ll get to do them with.

Asking about potential roadblocks means you hear the other side of the story—dysfunctional teams, internal politics, difficult clients, bootstrap budgets and so on. This can help you decide if you’re up for the challenge or whether, for the sake of your sanity, you should respectfully decline the job offer.

2. What are the qualities of really successful people in this role?

Employers don’t want to hire someone who goes through the motions; they want to hire someone who will excel.

Asking this question shows that you care about success, too. How could they not hire you with a dragon-slayer attitude like that?

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How it helps you:

Interviewers hire people who are great people to work with, but the definition of “great people” differs from person to person.

Does this company hire and promote people with a specific attitude, approach, worth ethic or communication style? Are the most successful people in this role strong extroverts who love to talk and socialize when you are studious and reserved? Does the company reward those who work insane hours when you’re happiest in a more relaxed environment?

If so, then this may not be the right match for you.

Whatever the answer is, you can decide whether you have what it takes for the manager to be happy with your performance in this role. And if the interviewer has no idea what success looks like for this position, this is a sign to proceed with extreme caution.

3. From the research I did on your company, I noticed the culture really supports XYZ. Can you tell me more about that element of the culture and how it impacts this job role?

Of course, you could just ask “what is the culture like here? ” but then you would miss a great opportunity to show that you’ve done your research!

Interviewers give BIG bonus point to those who read up and pay attention, and you’ve just pointed out that (a) you’re diligent in your research (b) you care about the company culture and (c) you’re committed to finding a great cultural fit.

How it helps you:

This question is so useful because it lets you pick an element of the culture that you really care about and that will have the most impact on whether you are happy with the organization.

For example, if training and development is important to you, then you need to know what’s on offer so you don’t end up in a dead-end job with no learning opportunities.

Companies often talk a good talk, and their press releases may be full of shiny CSR initiatives and all the headline-grabbing diversity programs they’re putting in place. This is your opportunity to look under the hood and see if the company lives its values on the ground.

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A company that says it is committed to doing the right thing by customers should not judge success by the number of up-sells an employee makes, for instance. Look for consistency, so you aren’t in for a culture shock after you start.

4. What is the promotion path for this role, and how would my performance on that path be measured?

To be clear, you are not asking when you will get promoted. Don’t go there—it’s presumptuous, and it indicates that you think you are better than the role you have applied for.

A career-minded candidate, on the other hand, usually has a plan that she’s working towards. This question shows you have a great drive toward growth and advancement and an intention to stick with the company beyond your current state.

How it helps you:

One word: hierarchy.

All organizations have levels of work and authority—executives, upper managers, line managers, the workforce, and so on. Understanding the hierarchical structure gives you power, because you can decide if you can work within it and are capable of climbing through its ranks, or whether it will be endlessly frustrating to you.

In a traditional pyramid hierarchy, for example, the people at the bottom tend to have very little autonomy to make decisions. This gets better as you rise up through the pyramid, but even middle managers have little power to create policy; they are more concerned with enforcing the rules the top leaders make.

If having a high degree of autonomy and accountability is important to you, you may do better in a flat hierarchy where work teams can design their own way of achieving the corporate goals.

5. What’s the most important thing the successful candidate could accomplish in their first 3 months/6 months/year?

Of all the questions to ask in a job interview, this one is impressive because it shows that you identify with and want to be a successful performer, and not just an average one.

Here, you’re drilling down into what the company needs, and needs quite urgently, proving that you’re all about adding value to the organization and not just about what’s in it for you.

How it helps you:

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Most job descriptions come with 8, 10 or 12 different job responsibilities and a lot of them with be boilerplate or responsibilities that someone in HR thinks are associated with this role. This question gives you a better sense of which responsibilities are the most important—and they may not be what initially attracted you to the role.

If you like the idea of training juniors, for example, but success is judged purely on your sales figures, then is this really the job you thought you were applying for?

This question will also give you an idea of what kind of learning curve you’re expected to have and whether you’ll get any ramp-up time before getting down to business. If you’re the type of person who likes to jump right in and get things done, for instance, you may not be thrilled to hear that you’re going to spend the first three months shadowing a peer.

6. What do you like about working here?

This simple question is all about building rapport with the interviewer. People like to talk about themselves, and the interviewer will be flattered that you’re interested in her opinions.

Hopefully, you’ll find some great connection points that the two of you share. What similar things drive you head into the office each day? How will you fit into the culture?

How it helps you:

You can learn a lot from this question. Someone who genuinely enjoys his job will be able to list several things they like, and their answers will sound passionate and sincere. If not….well, you might consider that a red flag.

Since you potentially can learn a lot about the company culture from this question, it’s a good idea to figure out upfront what’s important to you. Maybe you’re looking for a hands-off boss who values independent thought and creativity? Maybe you work better in environments that move at a rapid, exciting pace?

Whatever’s important to you, listen carefully and see if you can find any common ground.

7. Based on this interview, do you have any questions or concerns about my qualifications for the role?

What a great closing question to ask in a job interview! It shows that you’re not afraid of feedback—in fact, you are inviting it. Not being able to take criticism is a red flag for employers, who need to know that you’ll act on any “coaching moments” with a good heart.

As a bonus, asking this question shows that you are really interested in the position and wish to clear up anything that may be holding the company back from hiring you.

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How it helps you:

What a devious beast this question is! On the surface, it looks straightforward, but it’s actually giving you four key pieces of information.

First, is the manager capable of giving you feedback when put on the spot like this? Some managers are scared of giving feedback, or don’t think it’s important enough to bother outside of a formal performance appraisal. Do you want to work for a boss like that? How will you improve if no one is telling you what you did wrong?

Second, can the manager give feedback in a constructive way without being too pillowy or too confrontational? It’s unfair to expect the interviewer to have figured out your preferred way of receiving feedback in the space of an interview, but if she come back with a machine-gun fire of shortcomings or one of those corporate feedback “sandwiches” (the doozy slipped between two slices of compliment), then you need to ask yourself, can you work with someone who gives feedback like that?

Third, you get to learn the things the hiring manager is concerned about before you leave the interview. This gives you the chance to make a final, tailored sales pitch so you can convince the interviewer that she should not be worried about those things.

Fourth, you get to learn the things the hiring manager is concerned about period. If turnover is keeping him up at night, then your frequent job hopping might get a lot of additional scrutiny. If he’s facing some issues with conflict or communication, then he might raise concerns regarding your performance in this area.

Listen carefully: the concerns that are being raised about you might actually be a proxy for problems in the wider organization.

Making Your Interview Work for You

Interviews are a two-way street. While it is important to differentiate yourself from every other candidate, understand that convincing the interviewer you’re the right person for the role goes hand-in-hand with figuring out if the job is the right fit for you.

Would you feel happy in a work environment where the people, priorities, culture and management style were completely at odds with the way you work? Didn’t think so!

More Resources About Job Interviews

Featured photo credit: Amy Hirschi via unsplash.com

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