Practicing emotional alchemy

keys to the heartI had a “revelation” about transforming bad moods on Tuesday afternoon.

For some reason I was feeling a little blah. Not at all energetic and not the least enthusiastic.

At some point I lolled on my bed thinking about how to spend the rest of the day – wouldn’t it be better to spend the rest of the day reading and watching telly and hope that the next day I would feel more energetic?

Even though it’s true I might’ve stepped out of my bed in a better mood on Wednesday morning, I wasn’t satisfied with my proposed solution. I started my happiness project because I want my life to get better, which includes acting energetic not lethargic. Also, one of  Gretchen’s twelve commandments kept running through my mind: “Act the way you want to feel. “

So I bit the bullet, sat down to tackle my thought distortions (in this case I listed the advantages and disadvantages of spending the rest of the day reading and watching telly). Then I got up and vacuumed my apartment thoroughly, went for a long brisk walk and when I got back home I was energized and ready to do something constructive.

Ta-da. My day was ”magically” transformed from blah to energetic. 🙂

This is hardly anything I haven’t done before (I mean changing my emotions by changing my actions) but for so reason it felt like a big revelation. Why is it so hard to remember that you can actually change the way you feel by changing the way you act, especially when you need it most?

I suspect I will have the very same revelation many times in the future. But maybe one day it doesn’t take such a long time to remember I have a choice about my moods.


There is one passage in Gretchen’s book that I find very exciting.

“One helpful consequence of my happiness project was that even when I had a bad day, it was a good bad day. If I was feeling blue, I’d run through with my mood boosting strategies: go to the gym, get some work done, keep myself from getting too hungry, cross a nagging task off my to-do list, connect with other people, spend some time having fun with my family. Sometimes nothing really worked but the nice thing about trying to ameliorate a bad mood by taking those kinds of constructive steps was that when even when a day was bad, it had bright spots, and I could look back on a good bad day with satisfaction. [The happiness project, p. 278]

I want to have more good bad days too.

Now I’m going to get my daily dose of my guaranteed satisfaction and go clean my bathroom. Then I’m going to practice some salsa steps. 🙂

Question: How do you tackle bad moods?