The Big Idea
You can’t control everything, but you can control your reaction.
Questions I Answer
- What does mindset have to do with productivity?
- How can I get out of a bad mood?
- What is emotional intelligence?
Actions to Take
- Create a mood log to track each time your mood shifts from positive to negative (and vice versa). Then, jot a quick note next to each entry about when the shift occurred, what was happening around you, and start to examine the patterns, events, or people that are triggering these mood changes.
Key Topics in the Show
Rethinking your mindset and how you deal with setbacks
Taking control over your moods and learning to manage them more effectively
Developing your emotional intelligence and mood management muscles
Pinpointing shifts in your mood to get to the root cause of what you’re feeling
Resources and Links
- Related Episodes: 158: Looking Backwards to Move Forward
This is Productivity Paradox with Tanya Dalton, a podcast focused on using productivity not just to do more but to achieve what’s truly important to you, and this season is all about you, You 2.0. To learn more about yourself, take Tanya‘s
free quiz and discover your own productivity style at Tanyadalton.com.
And now get ready. Here’s your host, Tanya Dalton.
Hello, hello everyone. Welcome to Productivity Paradox. I’m your host, Tanya Dalton, and this is episode 161, managing your mood. And I know you might be
thinking mood? What in the world does this have to do with productivity? Well, i would challenge that and say, “Just about everything.” Because let me ask you a
question, have you ever had one of those days where you’ve either woken up in a bad mood that you just couldn’t shake or maybe you were having a day where things were running really smoothly until out of nowhere, life threw a curve ball that
completely threw you and your good mood totally off course? The whole day feels shot just because of one little thing and you can’t get back on track. Mm-hmm (affirmative), well if you’re like every other human being in the world today, I’m going to bet that at some point or another, something like this has happened to you. Because these small setbacks, these weird, unexplainably bad days or shifts in our mood, they happen from time to time, don’t they?
And it can be so frustrating to navigate, especially when it happens out of the blue. And on this show, we have talked about learning how to embrace changes that life throws at us and how we can use them for growth. We’ve talked about that before and we’ve talked about mindset before, but what we really haven’t dived into is your mood and how that affects us as we navigate these shifts. Today, as we continue our season long topic of you 2.0, which of course is all about making those small tweaks in our lives that will enable us to become our very best version of ourselves that we can be, I want us to lean into this idea of our changing moods and how we can manage them better through these small adjustments that we’ve been exploring. Because learning how to embrace change, whether it comes from the outside world or the inside, where our emotions lie and where our mood comes from, is crucial.
In The Joy of Missing Out, I share this idea that it’s not reality that makes us feel stuck. It’s our lens we use to view the world. It’s how we set our chin when we get out of bed. It’s how we slough off the traffic on the way to work. It’s how we don’t allow the barbs and the snares of other people’s reactions control how we feel. Our mood is tied to our mindset. Have you ever gotten out of bed, stubbed your toe, and then thought, oh, it’s going to be one of those days? And yep, sure enough it is. But that’s because you’ve set your day up to see the negative. You’ve decided before the day has really even started even, that it’s going to be bad. And so it is. Your mood affects your mindset, your mindset affects how you deal with changes and shifts. It’s all connected.
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Here’s the hard truth, change is at the heart of all the growth we experience through our lives, right? What’s important to take into consideration here is that our mood helps set the stage for how we experience change from the get go. Our mood
is what takes the slight setback at work or at home from slightly disappointing to downright terrible, right? But it’s also what makes a positive change like a promotion during a routine day from ah, okay, to absolutely earth shattering, right? It’s our moods. After all, our moods are in and of themselves, a reflection of our emotions, of
our feelings. And when we don’t learn how to take control over them or how to manage them better, we run the risk of falling behind or even failing to act on our
goals or other ambitions every time we experience a negative mood swing.
Let’s talk about how we can learn to be a little more comfortable when we go through these shifts in our moods so that we don’t feel like they have so much control and power over us. And I also want to touch on the ways that we can rise above the negative mood changes that we experience and why having the tools to manage our mood is important to have at our disposal as we continue to take steps forward
towards achieving our goals, our biggest dreams and the happiness we really want in life. As we begin to focus in and narrow in on our mood management, I want to first touch on what lies at the heart of it, which is the concept of emotional intelligence.
Now this is a term that’s been around for a very long time, since the 1930s, and it’s evolved quite a bit. Early on, sociologists and psychologists dubbed emotional intelligence as nothing more than social intelligence. But today that term encompasses a lot of other ideas. Now I know what you might be thinking. Okay, sure, All that sounds great, but what does this have to do with me? Exactly. Oftentimes we hear a term like emotional intelligence, and we think, well that has something to do with people who work in psychology or sociology, but it’s not really true. And it’s important to recognize as we move further into our chat today.
For starters, emotional intelligence in good old plain English is a combination of our self-awareness, how we recognize and understand our emotions and the ways that we react to them. It’s our self-awareness. Our self-management, which is how we manage, how we can control and adapt our emotions, our moods and responses. And our motivation, our empathy and our social skills. All of it is tied into our emotions and the way that we regulate our moods. Emotional intelligence is a gateway to the harmonious life we’re all working for. It’s that key ingredient that we need to help us
take the steps we need to take in order to lead the life we want.
And why is that? Well, emotions play a vital part in the overall quality of our lives, both professionally and personally. In fact, it’s been found to be more critical than even brain intelligence. Let me say that again. Emotional intelligence has been found to be more critical than brain intelligence, especially when it comes to our happiness and our overall life satisfaction. If it’s the gateway to this harmonious life, that sounds like something we all want, right? Yeah, I think so too. I want to dive into this. Why is it that it affects us?
Well, if you think about it, our moods dictate every aspect of our lives, how we deal with conflict, how we manage relationships, how we lead others, even our
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physical health. Think about it. The ability to take care of our bodies and to manage our stress has a powerful impact on our overall physical wellness. And how we experience stress most certainly plays into the different emotions that we experience and the moods we go through throughout the day. The same holds true for our mental wellbeing. Our emotional intelligence affects our mood, which plays into the way that we look at life positively or negatively. And it’s also what helps us alleviate anxiety, avoid depression and mood swings. So much so that studies have shown that a high level of emotional intelligence directly correlates to having a positive attitude and a happier outlook on life in general,
Emotional intelligence is not something that we’re all just born with in equal measure. Instead, it’s something that we either develop fully or we don’t. Kind of like a muscle. And mood management is exactly the same. What did I just say there? It’s not
something we’re born with. You can’t just be like, well, I’m the type of person who’s always in a bad mood or I’m always happy. It’s not true because it’s something we have to develop or we have to choose not to. I want you to think back a couple of weeks ago to that conversation that we had with Megan Murphy about the fully
charged life back in episode, I think it was 159. Now, you might remember that I said she is hands down one of the most positive people I know, but remember what she said, you’ll recall that she said she’s not naturally an optimist. It’s something she worked at and worked at and worked at. Starting by finding gratitude and looking at the positive spin on things.
All of that stemmed out of her grief over losing her dad. She developed that muscle and I’m guessing it took some work, some intentionality. She had to redirect her thinking. And now she slips into positivity so easily. And man, that woman grabs happiness out of every day and lives that fully charged life. Seriously. And it’s something she has created for herself. It’s a muscle she has strengthened and worked on and conditioned to grow.
Here’s the good news. You are in charge of you. That includes your emotions and your moods. You have to stop blaming anything and everything for why you feel the way you do. You can’t control what happens to you, but you can only control the way you respond. And I get it. It may feel really hard. It might feel so damn hard that you don’t know how that’s possible. It’s going to take some thinking about it. It’s going to require some effort, but anything worth doing means effort. Know this, if you find yourself struggling to get yourself over the hump of feeling a certain way or out of a bad mood you’ve suddenly stumbled into, there are two ways to build up your emotional intelligence muscle, observing your emotions and tapping into your responses to them. Which to me sounds a lot like mindfulness, doesn’t it?
It’s funny, when people ask me what I do, I often tell them that I’m a productivity expert. And I say that, “Yeah, I get them in the door with the buzzword productivity and then when they come in I say, you know what? It’s really about living with intention. It’s really about mindfulness.” And it’s true. Being mindful allows you to live that life you really want and productivity just helps you get there. Productivity at its heart is really about being mindful. It really is about acknowledging the choices we’re making, acknowledging the choice we make when it comes to the big things,
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the little things, and even our moods. I want you to remember that, you have the ability to change that. You’ve probably heard me use that term mindfulness a lot if you’ve listened to this podcast. If you’re in my house on a regular basis, you’ll hear that word mindfulness a lot because it’s one of my core values.
I’m constantly preaching mindfulness to my children. Mindfulness makes all the difference in how we behave, how we make our choices, and how we set our moods. In order to give ourselves the self management tools we need to regulate our moods more effectively, it is crucial that we pay attention and take notice. Start to pay
attention to your emotions and how they evolve each day, sometimes multiple times over the course of a day, even over the course of a few hours. We all experience that little bit of a roller coaster day of emotions, happy, sad, unhappy, back to happy. It’s normal, it’s natural. It’s kind of how things work from time to time. Really being in that mindful intentional space really helps because if you think about it, that umbrella concept of emotional intelligence, it’s a very big part of becoming more and more aware of our emotions and how they affect our moods, right?
It’s giving ourselves the space we need to be more mindful of what happens inside and outside of us and how those factors play into the different moods that we experience. I want to talk about this some more. How can we become more mindful of our mood and our responses to them, especially when they change so frequently? Well, one of the basic principles of mindfulness is the impermanence of everything, Nothing in life is truly permanent and this includes the different moods that we go through. And when you really stop and think about it, you can see how true of a statement that is.
The itch that you were experiencing a few moments ago, it’s disappeared without you even needing to scratch it. The thought you had as you were waiting for the person in front of you in traffic to press on the gas pedal after the light switched from red to green, it’s been replaced by the hope that you’ll get a good parking space at the office or the store or wherever it is you’re going. The sadness or the loneliness you experienced last week has been replaced by excitement about getting together with friends or family over the next weekend. Nothing is permanent. Not the physical sensations we experience, not the thoughts that creep into our brains, not the moods we go through as we move through our days.
How can we bring mindfulness into the equation as we explore these different ways to manage our moods? Well, I want to take a look at that, but first I want to give a quick word for today’s sponsor,
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All right, let’s get back to this idea of managing our moods because we need to acknowledge a hard truth about our moods. They affect our behavior and how we deal with situations in the workplace, in our personal life and everywhere else. We cannot, no matter how hard we try, escape them. We always have a mood, whether it’s positive or negative. There’s never a time where we’re just right in the middle. Like I said earlier, our moods are a direct reflection of our emotional state. And when our moods are compounded by the fact that we’re not always in touch with our feelings as much as we’d like to be at least, it can be a challenge to pick ourselves up by the bootstraps when we’re stumbling into a bad one. We’ve all had that, haven’t we? Where we stumble into a bad mood and we can’t seem to make our way out of it.
For most of us, it’s when we fail to recognize that we’re in a bad mood and finding a way to compensate accordingly, that’s when we run into issues with our productivity, with our decision making, with stress, how we deal with everybody else
and so on. You can see it just bleeds into every area of our lives. Our bad mood seeps into everything like spilled milk that creeps under the fridge and starts to spoil. It affects more than just you. The first step here as we look for ways to be more mindful of our changing moods, is to acknowledge that a shift for better or for worse has happened. And that’s okay. You’d ask yourself, what brought this new mood on? The heavy traffic you ran into because you’re running late to work? The change in weather that left you totally unprepared and in need of an umbrella? Maybe a phone call or a text from someone with bad news?
Try to pinpoint the shift in your mood to a specific incident, to a single moment if you can, and then dig a little deeper. See if there’s a root cause that maybe you hadn’t thought of. If let’s say for example, if you said that your bad mood is a result of the heavy traffic you ran into because you’re running late, then I want you to ask yourself, was it really because of the traffic or was it because you lost track of time and left for the office later than usual? Just like we talked about earlier in this season in episode 158, you need to look backwards in order to move forward. Take a minute or two, get to the heart of the emotion you’re feeling and I want to encourage you, try to be honest. Be as honest as you can with yourself as you’re looking for these answers. The more you’re willing to dig, the easier it will be to find the root of your mood swings when they occur, and that allows you to find ways around them that
leave you feeling more in control.
Now, one great way to help you through this is to keep a mood log for a week or two. Use it to track each time your mood shifts from positive to negative or negative to positive, and just jot a quick note, little note or two about when the shift occurred, what was going on around you. The more time you’re able to track your moods, the easier it will become to see the patterns, these root events, the things, or maybe even the people that are triggering some of these mood changes. And don’t be surprised at how quickly your log fills up. Remember, our moods change frequently, often more than we even realized, but that doesn’t make them unmanageable, so don’t worry. That’s okay.
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After a week or two of mood tracking, I want you to start taking notice of what patterns are occurring? Maybe you track your moods for a short time and you realize, hey, the number one reason for my bad moods is related to falling behind in my schedule. On those days maybe you hit the snooze button a few too many times before getting started on your morning routine. Or maybe you had to stop for gas because you’d forgotten to fill up your car the night before. Maybe your pattern is related to falling behind on your priorities or falling off track with a goal you set. Maybe it’s tied to your career and that’s upsetting and that’s causing some of this discomfort. How can you change the way you react to difficult or frustrating events from now on? That’s really what we want to think about. We want to feel like we have a little more control over our moods because we do. There’s an endless number of things we can do to make that shift intentionally to really change when we’re finding ourselves in a negative space and moving into a positive.
You can do things like meditation, journaling, going outside, going for a walk, reading from a book that you’re enjoying, reciting positive affirmations or even like a mantra like, this will pass. This will pass. Say it again. This will pass. Sometimes you have to say it a lot of times to remind yourself of that, but give yourself a little bit of time, a little bit of grace, and allow yourself to clear your mind. Give yourself some space to decompress and manage your mood and that’ll feel a lot better to you. I think the key is to redirect with something that brings a moment of peace and that feels good to you. I know I mentioned meditation. If meditation is one of those things that you’re like, ugh, I don’t really like, then that’s not the answer here for you. If when I said journaling, you’re like, oh, I don’t like journaling, that’s not the answer for you.
It really is going to something that feels good to you. Now for me, I’ve made it a practice in the past six months to really shift and manage my moods a lot more. I’m really seeing a big difference in it, to be honest with you. And so what I started doing was that every time I would complain about something, whether it was out loud or just in my head, I had to come up with three things that I am grateful for at that very moment, which sometimes can be a challenge, especially when you’re in a negative
I’ll share an example of how I’ve done this recently. A few weeks ago I went to the airport and I was waiting at the gate and then the gate attendant comes on and she says, and it’s cold outside because right now, it’s we’re in the middle of winter and she says, “The gangway that gets us on the plane is broken. You’re going to have to walk outside. I’m so sorry. I know it’s 30 degrees outside, but we’re going to have to walk outside and board the plane with one of those little stair things.”
Obviously, there’s an official term there, but I don’t know what it is. The main thing was we had to go outside, and I wanted to grumble and I got irritated with it. I had to stop and I took a deep breath and I thought to myself, okay, I am grateful right now that it stopped raining this morning because I’m not going to be wet. I am grateful that I have a jacket on so I’m not going to be nearly as cold. I am grateful that I am going to speak at an event that I am really excited to be at. And I found that after I repeated these three things that I was grateful for at that very moment, I no longer felt so grumbly. I no felt so cranky and irritable. I really was focusing on the positive.
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I started doing that about six months ago, really releasing the things I had no control over and embracing the things that I do. And that includes my mood. That’s what I have done and that feels good to me. If that sounds like something that feels good to you or would feel good to you, do it. I’m telling you, it has made a huge difference, but here’s all that I care about. Do what feels good and true to you. Don’t worry about what anyone else does, do what feels good to you. Whatever it is, let’s get one thing straight here. It’s not really about the event that caused your mood to change or that you were even in a bad mood at all. You are the one who’s in charge of your reactions.
Your mood is one of the very few things in this world that you do have absolute control over. There is so much that we don’t, but you can actively choose your emotions and what’s really important is to tap into our reaction to the root event, the anger, the resentment, the irritation, whatever it is that we’re experiencing as our mood shifts. That’s the ultimate focus here. As we take a mindful approach to managing our moods in the future, when we do that, we can truly become aware of the ways that we react negatively to challenging situations and how we can change that, how we can change those reactions moving forward. Because here’s the truth, you 2.0 is not always easy. Making changes, stepping out of our comfort zone, getting out of our warm comfortable space is never easy. Growth is hard. It’s going to take some work.
Trecently shared with my Facebook group that in my own personal life, I am really working towards growth and I know that for this year I am going to be stepping out of my comfort zone on a regular basis. And I thought about it and I thought about it when it came to my word of the year, what did I want my word of the year to be? And I thought, oh, I could do something like transition or metamorphosis or transformation. All of those sound amazing and beautiful, but you know what I chose? I chose discomfort. That’s my word for 2020, discomfort. You know why? Because I know I’m going to be challenging myself. I know there are going to be times where I feel uncomfortable because of change, where I feel that discomfort and instead of acting like it’s no big deal, I’m embracing it.
I’m acknowledging it and I’m taking it head on so that when I get into a spot where I feel uncomfortable or I feel like I’m stepping out of that safe, warm comfort zone, that I’m ready to embrace the discomfort because discomfort means change and I personally am ready for change. I’m ready to make some big shifts in what I’m creating and what I’m doing and what I’m putting forth into the world. And so, discomfort is my word. Now that I’ve made it my word, I’m not going to grumble when I’m uncomfortable. I’m not going to complain when things feel tough, I’m going
to embrace it because that’s my word and I choose my moods. I choose how I’m going to react to that discomfort and that’s why I’m putting it front and center in my own life. I talked about that in the Facebook group and it was so encouraging to see the reactions of everybody else when they were talking about their words of the year and how they felt about seeing that.
I’m very open in the Facebook group in sharing a lot of my own journey because I think it’s really important for people to know that just because I’m a
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productivity expert doesn’t mean I’m done. We’re never to a point where we are through with our growth, we’re done changing. We are always evolving. We are always shifting and growing. Now, if you’re not in my Facebook group, I’d love to see you in there because we do have amazing conversations. Head over to Tanyadalton.com/group, we do all kinds of amazing things there, but it is a place to find support and encouragement and when you are grumbly and you feel like you need to manage your moods, it’s a great place to find that encouragement, to make those shifts, to step out of that comfort zone and step into you 2.0. I’d love to see you there.
All right, next week we’re continuing this conversation with the idea of changing your narrative. All right, so I hope to see you here and I’d love to see you in that Facebook group. I really would. All right, until next time, have a beautiful and productive week.
Thanks for listening to Productivity Paradox, Want to learn more about your own productivity style? Simply go to Tanyadalton.com to take her free quiz and get free
resources designed just for you.
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