Guest Post: The Mood Elevator by Larry Senn


We could all do with an increased ability to handle life and all that it throws at us more effectively.  One of the more comprehensive, but readable books of late which attempts to show us how to do exactly that is The Mood Elevator:  Take Charge of Your Feelings, Become a Better You by Larry Senn.

Larry writes clearly and comprehensively about the factors that influence our daily well-being and the importance of choice in how our days and nights go.  His perspectives are well-supported and valuable for application in both our professional lives and our personal arenas.

 In honor of the launch of this useful book this week, a guest post from the author is below.  If you find this helpful, you will love the whole book.  I will have more to say about its value to me later in the week.

HOW TO DEAL WITH DOWN DAYS

by Dr. Larry Senn

There are countless pointers, tools, and books on how to be happy- and rightfully so, we’d all love to be happy and at the top of our Mood Elevator all the time.

Unfortunately, being happy all the time is just not reality. We will all spend times in the emotional basement since having low moods is a natural and normal part of life.  Human beings are unique in the animal kingdom because we have the power of thought. This allows us to imagine the future, plan for things yet to come, muse about possibilities, and analyze and interpret everything that is going on around us.

That same power to imagine through thought can also cause to us to worry excessively and unnecessarily, experience periods of depression about real or imagined problems, have moments of paranoia based on our assumptions about other’s motives, be self-righteous and judgmental, and even experience fits of anger and rage.

Because we take this ride on the Mood Elevator every day, it’s important to also have some tools on how to do well when you’re “in the red”. It’s not a bad thing to be in a bad mood, but it’s best to minimize the damage you cause when you’re having “one of those days”.

The best thing to remember when you wake up on the wrong side of the bed is to remember that you woke up on the wrong side of the bed. Having the awareness that you’re not at your best will help you proceed with caution throughout your day. Imagine when you’re driving somewhere on a cold, icy road at night. You’ll do the drive, but you’ll proceed with caution. You’ll drive slowly, take turns gently, and leave plenty of space between you and any other drivers on the road.

Think about that same tactic the next off day you’re having. If possible, reschedule that meeting with your coworker you butt heads with. The reason it’s so important to proceed with caution when you’re in the lower mood states is because our thinking becomes very unreliable when we’re down there.

Have you ever said something to a friend or loved one in the heat of the moment that you wished you could take back? Have you ever hit the send button to transmit an email that you later realized was a terrible mistake? If either of these has happened to you, think back to the circumstances. Where were you on the Mood Elevator map when this occurred? Most likely, you were somewhere in the lower half.

Imagine these two scenarios that are common in our everyday life and how we might get ourselves in trouble if we don’t recognize that our thinking is unreliable.

The first is getting an email that “pushes our buttons”. It might be accusatory, aggressive, or downright rude. After reading it we drop down to irritation, anger, or anxiety and our instinct is to write an email back giving the person a piece of our mind. These are the kind of situations when we’ll likely regret what we write. An alternative solution would be to write an email, and instead of hitting send, hit save as draft. Wait at least a few hours. If possible wait 24 hours and come back to it once we’ve had some time to cool off. Chances are we’ll be happy we didn’t send it. And, we might be at a higher level on the Mood Elevator the next day and are capable of sending a much more effective email, with a much better outcome.

The second scenario is the common one of having a disagreement with your spouse. My wife and I first got together in the 1970’s, the era of the human potential movement. The conventional wisdom at the time was encapsulated in saying like, “Tell it like it is, let it all hang out, and don’t go to bed with anything left unsaid.” As a result, there were a few times we struggled unproductively until all hours of the night, fighting over issues that, in retrospect, were usually not worth the time and energy.

As we both started understanding how our minds worked, we decided to set a ground rule that we don’t take on any significant relationship issues when either one of us are in the lower Mood Elevator states. It might look something like this:

Larry: It looks like something is bothering you. Is it something you want to talk about?

Bernadette: No, not now. My thinking is not clear. If I need to talk about it, I’ll let you know later.

Using the Mood Elevator as your guide and not acting on low-level thoughts and impulses when you are feeling down is one of the key principles to doing less damage to yourself-and to others.

About Dr. Larry Senn

Dr. Larry Senn pioneered the field of corporate culture and founded in 1978, Senn Delaney, the culture shaping unit of Heidrick & Struggles. A sought-after speaker, Senn has authored or co-authored several books, including two best-sellers. His newest is The Mood Elevator (August 2017), the follow up to his 2012 book, Up the Mood Elevator. You can learn more about Larry and his work at his website, www.themoodelevator.com.

 

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Getting It Right …


No MistakesGoing back to my roots for this one …

At one time, I was quite enamored of all things Richard Bach … yes, even the seagull:)  It was a thing we did, if we were of a certain age at a certain time in certain places and contexts.  

However, Bach wrote more than just Jonathan Livingstone Seagull.  This quotation comes from one of his other works, as I remember.

So to business …

NO MISTAKES?  This seems a bit much to accept, doesn’t it?

I can list a number of events from my life that definitely felt like mistakes, at the time and usually long afterward.   I have hurt others with my words and actions.  I have cost myself and others money, time, and energy.  I have failed to do what I know is right on more occasions than I am comfortable thinking about.

Over the course of things, I would imagine most of us make more “mistakes” than we get it right.

This is not surprising when you take into account a reality:  

EVERYONE IS LIVING THEIR LIVES FOR THE VERY FIRST TIME

Unless you ascribe to reincarnation or some other philosophy that allows multiple changes to get it right, we only get one chance to do each thing.  Now we might get another chance tomorrow to do that same thing, but it is not the chance we have today, but a new round at the same issue or topic.

Bach’s main point seems that we learn from our mistakes, so they are not mistakes in the eternal sense of the word, but rather “life adjustments“.  You know, those conversations that usually begin with some form of “I’m sorry …” or “You know, that didn’t work out like I wanted it to …”

Those of us who have attempted to create strong and intimate relationships through marriage, alliance, parenting, or friendship should welcome the news that we get to make adjustments.   The mistakes we make with one person or situation are part of what allows us to get it right in another situation or with another person.

I know of NO perfect relationships or situations, so we are all works in progress.

A quick note to the younger folks in the audience:

AGE DOES NOT EQUAL ABSENCE OF MISTAKES

I know older folks often seem like they have achieved that blissful state where all goes well every day because they know how to live without problems, but that is an act in itself.

We’re just calmer about making our mistakes now, because we recognize they are continual pop quizzes on how to do life and are essential to getting the right answers at the end.

How have you made and how are you making mistakes?

What are you learning from your mistakes?

What mistakes do you wish you had made?

You can catch up with Richard Bach HERE and you will not regret spending a few minutes with this thoughtful truth seeker.

Trying both to remember and forget all my past and current mistakes at the same time in the Heartland …

John

Image:  Gratisography.com – A great source of creative and unique photographs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paying Attention …


Who Are You - Presenter MediaNot a new thought, but valuable enough to bear consistent repeating…

FIRST QUESTION:  What and Who Do You Pay Attention To?

Think about those things and people who capture your interest or demand your energy.  Consider what is happening to your time and energy every day, over a week, and through the seasons.

Sometimes we have no choice, but to pay attention to something.  Our work may require this of us, and we cannot choose not to pay attention without risking significant job actions.  Of course, sometimes we talk ourselves into thinking that we “have to” focus on some work-related issue, when no particular evidence other than our own thinking supports this.

Other times, when we are honest, we choose the level and quality of our focus in an area and on a person.   We probably have much more freedom to change in these instances than we might think. 

FOLLOW-UP QUESTION: How Does What You Pay Attention To Help You?

Here are some common topics under which activities and individuals can be grouped.  Please note that in some cases, we pay attention to a person because of a goal or the reverse.  In those cases, consider the tangible value that derives from your investment of time and energy in that person or activity.

Please add any other major areas not included below to your Focus list.

FINANCIAL:  You focus on making and using money through earnings, investments, and the acquisition of valuable things.

CAREER:  You concentrate on building professional experiences and reputation in a workplace environment.  Titles and authority are important to you.

FAMILY:  You nurture familial relationships with children, parents, cousins, and other relatives, along with people you feel close to.

EMOTIONAL:  Your concern is primarily about how you feel about others and events, with a goal of healthy interactions and emotional stability.

STRUCTURAL: You work to develop a pleasant and safe environment for yourself and your loved ones.

Also remember that items on your list may overlap with more than one topic.  

For example, I used to run 4-5 miles per day and often started my weekend with a race at some local event.  As my children grew, I began to enter them in the short races which often accompanied my longer races, producing both health benefits and shared relationships with my children.

ANOTHER QUESTION:   How Well Does What Is On Your Focus List Align With What You Really Value?

This is the most important step and the hardest for most of us to do, since it involves really getting clear about what we want out of life.

I would say this is the place where you need some objective help.  You alone know best what you concentrate on doing or thinking , as well as what you truly value.  

However, a professionally prepared helper can make the process of determining the fit between what you do and what you want much easier than when you slog through the process alone.   There’s a reason why professional coaches are coming into the public eye more frequently.

FINAL QUESTION (Two-Parter):  1)  What Are You Going To Reduce Or Stop Doing, and 2) What Are You Going To Start Or Increase Doing?

Well, you knew I had to ask this one, right?

Not much point consider your current state of focus, unless you also create specific plans with measurable milestones and clear goals to change your focus where it does not align with your values or goals.  

These plans should include something like a “Stop or Reduce” list and a “Start or Increase” list of actions to help you devote more of your focus, and your energy, to the things which matter most.

Having lots of fun asking some very useful questions in the Heartland ….

John

 

Image :  Presenter Media

Dangerous Desks …


Dangerous Desks - Presenter Media

… and who am I to argue with a best-selling author, whose works continue to sell and be made into films and television series?

For some people, a desk is something other people have to sit behind, but for many of us, it is an essential piece of furniture, whether we toil in a cubicle, open office, or in our den at home.  The basic elements apply, even if you just spread out in a booth at a BreadCo or Starbucks.

I do wonder if some additional information is necessary, though.  Here are some quick diagnostic questions to ponder as you go about your daily work.  If you do not have a desk, take a few minutes to create a visual image of a desk that you might use, then answer the questions:

HOW DO YOU PHYSICALLY USE YOUR DESK?

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Reflections on Old Men and McDonald’s …


CoffeeTHE COFFEE AND THE CONVERSATIONS FLOW FREELY …

Every once in a while, a woman or a slightly younger man shows up, but this is almost exclusively an old man’s world.

Men of a certain maturity sit and chat, about the weather, about goings-on in their lives, their children and grandchildren, the state of the world, sometimes about politics, but that is often restricted to the local level or a chorus of people who all see things pretty much the same. 

Every tongue is loose and words flow freely … I wonder if they are this verbose in other situations or at home.  I imagine not …

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