Monday, November 28, 2011

Lift Your Mood

You spill a cup of coffee all over your desk. How do you react? If you're chatting on the phone with a new love interest, you shrug and chalk it up to giddy distraction. If it's right before an important meeting, you feel annoyed, even angry with yourself. Why the difference? In one scenario, it's just an accident. In the other, it goes to prove your day is doomed.

There's a reason for this: We view the world through mood-colored glasses, interpreting events according to how we feel at the time. But while we may swear that the guy who cuts us off in traffic ruined our morning, it's the way we respond that creates our experience. Life's little annoyances themselves don't sour a day; they serve as a reflection of the mood we're already in. "When you focus on negative thoughts or memories, you begin to interpret events around you through that lens, which generates more negative thoughts," says cognitive psychologist John Selby, coauthor of "Take Charge of Your Mind." It's a vicious cycle -- and one that can cause even the best of moods to plummet.

Research in cognitive psychology shows that our thoughts determine the quality of our emotions, moods, actions, and life experiences. "So nothing is more urgent or more important than learning how to take charge of our thinking," says Selby. He created a technique to break "thought addiction," or an inability to let go of past regrets and future worries in order to enjoy the present moment. The approach uses "cognitive shifting," which helps you move between states of mind and optimize your mental performance. In pairing that mental shift with specific phrases you say to yourself, you build a powerful habit that can overcome the tendency to "read" events in a negative way. In short: You stop letting little things upend entire days.

Although his sequence of exercises is deceptively simple, like any good skill, it requires practice. "You'll feel the effects right away, but if you continue to do it for two or three weeks, you will experience even more powerful results," he says. Then those flat tires, missed appointments, insensitive emails, and torn hems won't rankle you as they once did.

Click here to read the entire article written by Terri Trespicio for


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