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The Mood Elevator

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In his book, “The Mood Elevator,” Larry Senn writes about the commonplace reactions we all experience throughout our day – going up and down an emotional rollercoaster in response to whatever situation we are in. As the Founder of Senn Delaney, The Culture Shaping Firm, Larry has spent much of his professional life focused on helping organizations build powerful, thriving philosophies that serve as the foundations of their success and sustainability.    

The premise of Mood Elevator is based on being in control 

This book opens by framing a story that we can all relate to.  A disruptive workplace situation occurs which immediately leads to the main character’s heightened emotional state. On hearing a rumor that his division could be eliminate, John quickly goes into a tail spin. Like many of us, his thoughts jump to an immediate concern about his future and his financial stability. As a father and husband he is deeply worried that, if the gossip regarding cutting his group is true, he will not be able to support his family. This potential career crisis knocks him for a loop. 

After calming down and thinking about it logically, John eventually determines that this scenario might not be so bad after all. Perhaps he can actually use this as an excuse to make a move, find a better opportunity and even earn a higher salary. Becoming ebullient at the possible chance for a new start, his mood lightens quickly. 

Swinging through the day reacting to emotional ups and downs is exhausting 

Senn reminds us that we all ride the mood elevator – rising from depressed, angry, stressed or burned out through curious, interested and flexible until we get to the top floor where we feel wise, resourceful, creative and grateful. 

Recognizing this is common behavior, each of us needs to think about which floors are the ones where we spend the most time, which ones represent the floors where we get ‘stranded,’ seemingly unable to move on, and on which floors do we feel our best?  Most of us become more creative and innovative when we move away from anger and stress and rise up the elevator to embrace other, positive moods.  When we experience a happier, more content attitude, we find ourselves behaving differently.   We are typically more productive and more easily inspired because we are open to these positive feelings. Likewise, negative feelings breed negativity. Staying away from the downward spiral helps us create moods where we can flourish. 

Staying positive is essential 

Using an email platform to support a similar premise, Happify Daily reflects on how hard it is to remain positive when those around you are not. This is especially true when you have your own set of challenges to address. In fact, griping is contagious.  After all, don’t we all use the expression, “misery loves company,” now and then?  

Coming up with a strategy for staying at the right mood level to fend off the complaints can help. But your strategy needs to address each of three possible situations. 

  • Are you talking to an occasional complainer who needs someone safe and insightful to vent to,

  • Are you dealing with a stuck-in the-rut complainer who consistently falls into old habits of whining? In this case pointing out good outcomes might turn the conversation around.

  • Are you interacting with a chronic complainer? This is someone who always has a negative perspective (do you remember Eeyore in Winnie the Pooh?). This third type of complainer is the most devastating for those around them. They are not seeking a solution and as such you cannot fix them. Instead, you can set up boundaries and do not allow yourself to get pulled into the abyss. Steer away from these chronic complainers when you can and draw on your own strong coping skills to mitigate the impact of their sour attitude on you.   

You have choices!

So many centuries ago, Marcus Aurelius is quoted as having said, “The happiness of your life depends on the quality of your thoughts.”  Be self-aware and work to recognize that life experiences will constantly result in all types of thoughts and feelings. What you can do is take control and live your life on the floors of the mood elevator as you choose.