Moods are unusual, aren’t they? We would all like to be in a good mood all the time, but it’s not possible. Even dogs act depressed every now and then; even grumpy sometimes. I like to think that I’m usually in a good mood. Or if not a good mood, then at least an apathetic mood.
We often dissect the mood from the person. “Oh he didn’t mean it. He was in a bad mood.” As if his actions are forgivable because he wasn’t feeling chipper. Ultimately the bad mood becomes an excuse. We’ve also used the good mood as an excuse as well. “You’re lucky I’m in a good mood, otherwise…”
People’s entire lives can be changed depending on whether a person in a position of authority is in a good mood. People have been let off of traffic tickets because the police officer was in a good mood and people have been fired because they caught their boss on a bad mood day.
Another confusing aspect of the bad mood is that most people are completely aware of their good or bad mood. By labeling their mood the mood intensifies.
“Boy, you’re sure in a bad mood today.” “Fucking right! Now I’m going to say and do all the shitty things I couldn’t do when I was in a good mood!”
In order to change a mood we must first investigate the cause of the mood. The causes of good moods are easy: I just had sex, I just had good food, I got plenty of rest, good things are happening to me.
The causes of bad moods must be the counter of the good moods: I need to get laid, I’m hungry, I’m tired, shitty things keep happening to me.
Most likely, people who are in a perpetually bad mood must be consistently horny, hungry, and/or tired. Therefore, people with good attitudes must be getting plenty of food, rest, and/or sex.
Women blame their moods on their hormones. Which is logical considering that moods are psychological effects regulated by hormones. Pleasurable hormones are released to reinforce pleasurable experiences. It’s the human body’s positive reinforcement schedule. They make the person happy when they eat something sweet or fatty, or have sex in order to reinforce that person in hopes they do those things more often.
Does that mean that the body releases depression hormones during times of duress?
Body: He’s working too hard, release that hormone that made Kurt Cobain kill himself.
I don’t think that’s the case. In fact, I think depression is probably the default human mood. People feel sad when there is a lack of pleasure. We’re constantly trying to cheer ourselves up. Think about all of the decisions you make. They all have to do with making yourself feel happier.
I’m going to snooze because sleep makes me happy.
I’m going to have sugary cereal for breakfast because sugar makes me happy.
I’m going to wear the black outfit because it makes me look skinny and being skinny makes me happy.
I’m going to listen to this music in the car to make me happy.
I’m going to get coffee so the caffeine can make me happy.
I’m going to read about celebrities at their worst because watching rich people suffer makes me happy.
I’m going to go out for lunch and eat fatty foods because that’ll make me happy.
You get the picture.
Each action is a result of chasing the pleasure hormone. It’s not like we can just be robots and do the same thing, wear the same thing, eat the same thing everyday. Happiness comes from treating ourselves. Why can’t we just be happy being alive?
The happiest people are the simplest people. The happiest guy in the world isn’t the talented, rich celebrity with the perfect body – that guy’s about to crash his Ferrari and get caught in a sex scandal and he’s probably on anti-depressants. The happiest guy is the rickshaw driver who lives in a one room shack outside of Cape Town and lives on tips. He gets pleasure out of serving other people and maintaining a lifestyle where as long as he hasn’t acquired malaria or AIDS he has nothing to be sad about.
Often people lose everything they own and then realize that they don’t need any of that stuff to be happy. But before they lose everything, they’re in a bad mood because they don’t like the color of their kitchen counter tops and they can’t afford to replace them because they just went to Bora Bora on vacation.
I’ve been in a bad mood ever since I broke up with my boyfriend and my principal told me she most likely wouldn’t hire me next year. If I want to reverse this bad mood I probably need to find another job or a new boyfriend.
Those other thoughts earlier about doing all the things that make us happy. If we do them everyday, they won’t make us happy. But take away your favorite thing for a while; think about how happy it makes you when it comes back.
We never say, I’m going to eat breakfast because food keeps me from being hungry. or I’m going to wear clothes to be warm. or I’m going to go to work to earn money to pay for shelter.
The reason the rickshaw driver is happy is because if you go without basic needs, the tiniest comfort is going to make you the happiest. You give a guy everything; nature’s going to stop reinforcing at some point.
So if you want to be happy, take away something that makes you comfortable that you take for granted. Stand up at work. Drive without the A/C. Walk barefoot. Sit in silence. Turn off the electricity. Don’t use your phone for a day. Stop taking things for granted.
Or in my case, be lonely for a weekend so that way you’ll appreciate people again.