Solomon said, “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” (Proverbs 23:7)
Let me introduce you to my favorite little tool called, "The Mood Elevator."1
I have this taped in the cover of my daily journal. It's one of the most helpful and practical tools I have ever come across, and it has become a part of my daily reflection time. It helps me know when I'm not at my best, when my thinking is "off" or unreliable. I helps me to identify the quality of my thinking. I make better choices and I avoid less-than-effective behaviors.
The moment-to-moment fluctuations in the quality of our thinking affect the way we feel, or our moods. When we are at our best, and the quality of our thinking is high, we have feelings at the higher end of the elevator, such as gratitude, wisdom, creativity, insight, appreciation, compassion and understanding. We have the ability to learn.
When we are experiencing lower-quality thinking, we have feelings like impatience, frustration, anxiety, blaming and judgment. We stop learning and simply rehearse the past in our heads. This leads to being judgmental and depressed. In this state we are not wise and we make poor decisions. If you've ever said, "What was I thinking?" You're probably right, you weren't. Higher brain functions like wisdom, creativity, and common sense were actually turned off. When are at the lower end of the mood elevetor, we only have access to lower brain functions like anxiety, analysis and memory. That's why when you're depressed you can't stop over-analyzing and rehearsing everything that is wrong with your life. In this state we are not able to be wise. We feel a lack of strength and energy.
Energy is a feeling. You can actually use the Mood Elevator as an energy gauge. The higher you move up the elevator, the greater energy and emotional intelligence you will have.
We’re all human. We all ride up and down the Mood Elevator. We cannot always be at the top of our game, nor will we always be at the bottom. We may visit a level like "judgmental" or "frustrated," because it's human to feel. Sometimes we feel good and sometimes we don't. But if it’s just a feeling, I can choose different thoughts to dwell on that will move me up a few levels.
Unfortunately, you've probably met people who seem to have permanently set up shop on these lower levels. Being aware can help us avoid being "trapped" at the bottom of the Mood Elevator, and is the first step in being able to positively impact behavior and get better results.
One of the most useful levels in the Mood Elevator is " curious." If someone does something we don't understand, we often become irritated and judgmental. How much more effective could we be if we directed the energy we have to being curious: "I wonder why they see it that way?" This one thought will move you from the bottom levels and give you access to higher brain functioning.
Over time, staying at the bottom levels will cost you in your relationships and the opportunities that come across your path.
There was a person I used to work with. She was a good person, smart, intelligent, and a hard worker. The problem was, you never know what she was going to be like, whether she was having a good day or a bad day. It caused people to walk on eggshells. I often found myself apologizing for her behavior. Eventually she lost her opportunity to serve our organization because of how unpredictable the atmosphere became. In that kind of environment there’s no peace, and a whole lot of instability.
That’s what happens when we live according to our feelings. We will miss out on God-given opportunities. Doors will close for us that should have been opened.
Ultimately, the goal is to get to gratitude as quickly as possible. Counting your blessings will actually make you more intellient and give you more energy. Gratitude is the healthiest state of mind to be in.
This is why having a sabbath is smart! Take your day off and relax. Stop working. Recreation renews curiosity and gives you some distance and perspective. If you burn the candle at both ends you’re not as bright as you think you are.
What is one thing you can do to be more grateful today?
1 Source: Senn, Larry. The Human Operating System: An Owner's Manual. Long Beach, CA: Senn Delaney Leadership Consulting, 2010