Fleshing out some personal thoughts:
What exactly is “mood”? Why does it shift? Why are we sometimes in a “good” mood, versus a “bad” mood? Is mood a physiological thing? Is there an “ideal” mood to be in?
Mood is physiology?
Often we attribute everything to the mind/mental. But what if much of our mental moods could be attributed to our bodies — our physiology?
Let me give you an example — when I’m sleep deprived, of course I feel shitty. But should I let my mood (when sleep deprived or jet lagged) be an accurate judge of the quality of my life? Obviously not! Thus the tantamount importance of getting a good night sleep for ones “mood” or general physiological well-being.
Mood is hormonal
Whenever I get angry, I feel my mood shift. I feel adrenaline course through my veins. My blood boils. I start getting headaches. My breathing increases, and I literally see my eyes and my eyebrows furrow. When I look in the mirror when I’m angry, I look like a wild wolf.
Obviously, I shouldn’t use my angry state or mood be the judge of my entire life. And generally with mood, it shifts. If I’m angry, and I allow 24 hours to elapse, I’m obviously not angry anymore (unless there are additional agitants which spur my anger).
Time is key.
Probably the best aphorism I’ve read on mood is from Nassim Taleb (The Bed of Procrustes):
If you get angrier over time, you’ve been wronged. If you become less angry over time, you’ve done the wrong.
I generally think that time is the ultimate counselor. Thus, “purposeful procrastination” is useful and wise.
For example, if I’m angry, my general rule is to withhold action and speech for 24 hours, until I can speak rationally and level-beaded. I don’t think it is possible to act, think, or speak wisely when one is under the effect of an abnormal mood.
Is there an ideal mood?
If we think mood is physiology — obviously we want to feel strong, vigorous, inspired, positive, optimistic, and excited. A state of overflowing strength and vigor is desirable.
Now, is it possible to permanently have an elevated mood, or sense of strength? Perhaps not. We need challenge, agitation, difficulties, and obstacles to spur ourselves into feeling more powerful — mood (and hormones) cannot permanently be elevated. Just ask anyone who is a cocaine, crack, heroin, or coffee addict (me).
Your mood is in your stomach or micro-biome?
Crazy theory— I wonder if the microbes in our stomach affect our moods. Very possible!
I know my diet (what I eat) affects my mood to an insane degree.
For example, if I have food poisoning, it is probably one of the worst pains I can experience (100x more painful than a headache).
Or another extreme example — let us say I eat an organic food substance (cows milk). I am lactose intolerant, thus when I consume dairy products I will become weakened. My stomach hurts, I feel more frail, and I have less vigor. Even one day back home when I stupidly ate cheese during the daytime, and I went to do deadlifts later that day, I was actually physically weaker! (I couldn’t deadlift as much weight).
Thus perhaps if we want to have a better “mood”, we must be extremely picky with the food items we consume! Everyone’s body is different — thus, you must experiment with your own body and stomach, to figure out:
What types of food make me stronger, and what kind of foods make me weaker?
Then eat more of what makes you feel stronger, and eat (none) of what makes you feel weak!
How to sleep better
- When the sun goes down, be strict with yourself on not consuming stimulants (no coffee, caffeine tea, cocoa powder, etc).
- Don’t force yourself to “work” after dinner. Use the evening to relax from the toils of the day. Read a book, watch a film or something that doesn’t stimulate you into insomnia.
- Eat a very fatty meal in the evening: If you consume a pound of pork belly in the evening — how can you stay awake? You will inevitably fall victim to “food coma” (in a good way). The ideal goal is to fall into food coma before sleeping, to sleep deeper!
- No screens before sleeping.
Once you’ve slept well, then you should judge your own appraisal or your own life.
Should we take our mood seriously?
Yes and no.
Obviously if for days on end (beyond 24 hours), you’re in a shitty or depressed mood, something needs to be changed in your life. I generally first prescribe a physiological solution: 8 hours of sleep, 2 hours of walking during the day, physical activity, abstinence from alcohol or intoxicants, and healthful food.
Obviously we must listen to our body — it is probably a wiser barometer than our minds. If anything I think the mind is just a manifestation of our body.
Put more trust in your body than mind.
Drink more water
“The best soul is a wet soul (Souls delight the most when they are wet)” – Heraclitus? (or some other pre-Socratic philosopher)
The other day, I had a pretty shitty mood — but upon drinking around 6 glasses of water I realized:
Perhaps the cause of my shitty mood was just because I was dehydrated?
Considering that water is the source of our life (water is more important to our body than food)— perhaps we can improve our mood, vigor, energy, and personal power?
Prioritize your mood — but perhaps “mood” should be reinterpreted as:
Mood is the barometer of your own body’s physiology.
More faith in the body, less in the mind.