Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘mood’

The Emotional Calendar is not the only book to recommend tracking moods as a way of better understanding your life and improving your well meaning.

And now, Anna and my home town is tracking moods as well. Today the New York Times reports:

When they filled out the city’s census forms this spring, the people of Somerville got a new question. On a scale of 1 to 10, they were asked, “How happy do you feel right now?”

Sounds familiar! The city plans to use the data to determine whether happiness increases with improved public transport and green spaces. But as Anna and I can vouch for, 1-10 mood ratings are highly variable and depend on all sorts of factors.

“I’m glad they’re trying to use 21st-century tools to get a feel for what people want,” said Conor Brennan, the owner of P J Ryan’s, a pub in Teele Square. “Of course, any survey like this is going to depend on the mood of the person at that moment. If they filled it out in the middle of this last winter, that’s probably going to lower the score.”

Ah, winter. If only city planning officials could do something about that.

Read Full Post »

Three years ago this week I was in the Grand Canyon!

Actually, three years ago this week my life was flashing before my eyes as I tried to swallow my fear (and my pride) and slide across a frozen waterfall over a 15-foot drop at the Grand Canyon.

Yesterday was possibly the worst day ever. It was gray out and preparing to snow and it felt like one in a long line of gray days that extended not just since winter began, but across all Januaries past and future.

And then today, the sun is shining, and I’m thinking about the Grand Canyon. I went there at the end of a poorly planned trip across the country with my then-boyfriend. A few days before I left there was a snowstorm just like yesterday, and I wrote an e-mail to a friend: driving across the country is the worst idea I’ve ever had.

Then the snowstorm ended and the sun came out. I drove north to Maine between glistening piles of snow on freshly-plowed roads. I wrote an e-mail to the same friend: this is the most gorgeous place I’ve ever been. The next day I headed west. A week later, the sun was shining and I was in the Grand Canyon.

I’m not in Maine today, or in the Grand Canyon. But the sun is shining on fresh piles of snow and even though I’m sitting at the same desk as yesterday, I’m filled suddenly with a sense of adventure. Today, I’m thinking, anything could happen. I could leap over a melting waterfall above a 15-foot drop. I could write a really brilliant chapter for the book I’m working on. I could make bread.

I made bread.

I guess I can’t go on an adventure every time a storm ends and the sun comes out. But it’s nice to remember the things that are possible. And it’s nice, after a month of storms, to have a beautiful day.

When I lived in Maine I used to recite a Robert Frost poem to my students that begins like this:

Happiness Makes Up in Height for What It Lacks in Length

Oh, stormy stormy world,
The days you were not swirled
Around with mist and cloud,
Or wrapped as in a shroud,
And the sun’s brilliant ball
Was not in part or all
Obscured from mortal view—
Were days so very few
I can but wonder whence
I get the lasting sense
Of so much warmth and light.

Weather:
32 degrees and sunny!

Moods:
Hannah 7 out of 10 on the can’t get out of bed to jumping for joy scale.
Anna: 6 out of 10 and much better than yesterday, which was a 2! (our worst ever – sorry anna.)

Read Full Post »

Julia is a  colleague who is home from her first semester in college. She shared her thoughts about bad weather everywhere with us.

“This Is Nothing.”

That’s what I’ve been saying to my mom since I’ve been home from college. Trust me, Massachusetts’s blustery winds have nothing on Ohio’s howling gales.

Oberlin College (which is also Hannah’s alma mater, by the way) is situated smack dab in the middle of “The Snowbelt,” which stretches from upstate New York to Wisconsin. In terms of extreme weather — blizzards, floods and tornadoes — Ohio has seen it all.  From November to April it’s as if the Arctic Tundra has been temporarily relocated to the Midwest.

Since September, I experienced a host of tempestuous conditions — sudden heat spells, torrential downpours and harsh snowfall — all of them usually occurring within a short period of time. On top of all my schoolwork, this unpredictable weather has been a lot for me to handle.  After one particularly violent wintry day, I exasperatedly asked my hall-mate, an Ohio native, “Is it ALWAYS like this?!”

Being at home has been a nice break from unpredictable weather — up until last weekend, when a surprise cold snap rolled in and ruined my mood. It was too cold to go out and do anything, like explore the city. On top of that, I had a terrible cold that zapped me of energy.

This week, I’m still sick and growing ever more frustrated by this frosty weather. Sure, snow is pretty when it’s softly falling on cedars, but during blizzard conditions I can’t stand it. I have no desire to sit by my window and stare contemplatively into the wintry white abyss.  All I can do is curl up into a ball and wish it were spring.

If I’m trying to get somewhere in the snow, like to work so I can write this blog post, I hate the snow even more. I don’t know how to drive so I rely on public transit to get me everywhere. But in inclement weather, trains and buses are almost always hopelessly delayed and I am left in the cold, aggravated and waiting for them to arrive.

This severe weather will only worsen when I return to school in two weeks. I’m excited to start new classes and see my friends, but now more than ever part of me is wishing I went to school in California. At least there I wouldn’t be freezing from November to April.

Weather
Overcast with lots of slush on the ground.

Mood
Julia: 5/10. Could be better, could be worse… still wishing it were Spring.

Read Full Post »

Hello, blogosphere: how are you feeling today?

– “I’m feeling so guilty,” says someone from the eastern shore of Maryland

– “I’m working so hard to deal with the anger I’m feeling,” says someone in the UK.

– “I feel like I’m not doing a good enough job at anything,” says someone in Massachusetts.

– “I feel the real me within myself again,” says someone in Singapore.

– “I am allowing myself to feel and deal with what is in my heart and mind,” says someone in Kansas.

I recently received a link to the fascinating website wefeelfine.org. The site harvests “feelings” from an enormous number of blogs to create an emotional database, which it then makes manifest in a chaotic visual representation. The person who sent me the link described it as “a funky little web applet Java thingie which is remarkably profound when you realize that the little balls floating around are people’s souls laid bare yet at once coyly hidden behind the anonymity of online media forms.”

We Feel Fine is neat because you can filter by age, by city, by gender, and by weather! The top three feelings when it’s snowy? Able, lucky, and new.

The top three feelings when it’s sunny? Lazy, lucky, and ready.

Seems like for the most part, regardless of everything, people feel pretty good. Or at least that’s how they’re describing themselves on the internet. Which I find remarkable because I always thought of blogs as a dumping ground for self-pity. It makes me think that perhaps more people than we know are using the blogging world, instead, as an opportunity for positive self reflection and a chance to look toward a more hopeful future. As the authors of We Feel Fine say, “At its core, We Feel Fine is an artwork authored by everyone. … We hope it makes the world seem a little smaller, and we hope it helps people see beauty in the everyday ups and downs of life.”

Weather: Hazy and 30 degrees

Mood:

Hannah: 5 out of 10 on the “can’t get out of bed” to “jumping for joy” scale. Tired.

Anna: is in Vienna, hopefully eating chocolate cake.

Read Full Post »

Nobody likes a grinch. But no matter how hard I try, I can’t get into the holiday spirit.

Maybe it’s because I dislike shopping. Trying to make a morally justifiable purchase (fair trade? locally produced? organic? important? desirable?) can be paralyzing. Trying to select a personal, unique, and affordable gift is equally challenging. And pushing through throngs of shoppers while listening to Christmas carols gives me nightmares.

Or maybe it’s because growing up, the holidays were always a battle. In seventh grade my Spanish teacher wanted us to perform “holiday” songs at the school talent show. (“They’re not Christian!” she said. “Jesus is never mentioned!” “Feliz Navidad means merry Christmas,” I replied.) This is not really antisemitism. It’s just frustrating.

When I moved away from home, it got worse. Because of the nature of the Jewish calendar, Jewish holidays almost never fall during vacation time. So I spent my holidays alone, usually swamped with schoolwork. There’s nothing like thirty-page essays and final exams to dampen the holiday spirit.

I know that tonight is the first night of Chanukah because my non-Jewish friends have been e-mailing me all day, wishing me well. As for me, it may be grinch-like, but I’m trying to wipe Chanukah off my emotional calendar entirely.

That way, I should actually be able to enjoy the best part of the holiday. Latkes, anyone?

Weather: rainy and cool

Mood:

Hannah: 6 out of 10 on the  “so miserable I can’t get out of bed” to “jumping for joy” scale.

Anna: Staying steady at 7.

Read Full Post »

This is an exercise in mindfulness.

Bring your awareness to your mouth. Take pleasure in the sensation of rubbing your tongue against your teeth and the roof of your mouth. Swallow. This should feel good.

Now, take a clean glass. Spit into it. Now, drink your own spit.

Repulsive, isn’t it?

This exercise comes from Ellen Langer’s seminal book Mindfulness, one of the first to bring the concept of mindfulness into Western medical lexicon. I love it because no matter how many times I try, I can’t help but be totally grossed out. I know that rationally, there is no reason to dislike saliva. But I cannot break my constructed hatred of spit. It’s disgusting.

Langer’s point is that every day, we take thousands of actions that are not rational. Some of them, like not drinking our own spit, are fairly innocent. Others are more troubling: the ones that impact the way we act around disabled people, for example, or the elderly. (One of Langer’s  most laudable impacts has been in teaching nurses and families to recognize the difference between physical disability and mental disability.)

Mindfulness can also be helpful in improving the way we treat ourselves, especially at times when we are feeling particularly out of control. Anna is lucky in that she has totally overcome all of her Thanksgiving anxieties. But for the rest of us, this time of year is overloaded with emotional, cultural, and environmental stressors. There are childhood memories. Family expectations. Cultural pressures. The smell of snow on the wind.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed on Thanksgiving. It’s also easy to act on all of those anxieties without knowing why. To get angry at the turkey. To break down over the cranberry sauce. To lash out at an innocent great aunt or overly energetic toddler. All of which means, less time to enjoy a delicious dinner in the company of the people we love most.

Which is what Thanksgiving, at its best, can be about.

This holiday season, I’m going to try to be a little more mindful about where my emotions are coming from. And I’m going to hope that increased awareness will improve my ability to act, instead of just reacting.

But I’m still not drinking spit from a glass.

Wishing everyone a happy thanksgiving, with love from DTU.

Weather: 36 degrees, a bit overcast, and beautiful

Moods:

Hannah: 7 out of 10. Excited to go running this afternoon.

Anna: 7.5, and thrilled to have a few days to relax.

Read Full Post »

One glance at my mood rating over the past few posts, and it’s obvious that, perhaps, I’m (momentarily) regretting signing up for 3 committees, 2 subcommittees, and a myriad of other engagements this year!

It would be one thing if I were just going to meetings after work. That would be manageable. My plummeting mood, though, was not caused by meeting overload, but by the fact I had so many meetings while continuing to search for a new roommate. The joys of roommatehood and Craigslist…

So far, the search has lasted three weeks. The first batch of candidates seemed fun, friendly, and responsible, but alas, 75 percent of them weren’t even able to move this month! Terrible luck. During the second go-around, there were also some strong candidates, but nothing worked out. At some point, I realized the chances of getting someone in for a November 1 start were slim to none. And that’s when my stress peaked and I started to panic.

I thrive on a good dose of stress, but once I go over my personal stress threshold, I feel terrible. I still do what I need to do, but everything becomes a chore. I shed my optimistic tendencies and morph into a seemingly-eternal pessimist.

This past weekend, when I realized I would have to scrap my November 1 roommate timeline, I ventured out to run an errand and, of course!, got pelted with raindrops. Even the sky was gloomy!

During a separate super stressed out moment, I went for a walk and—instead of gray skies—witnessed the most vibrant sunset I’ve seen in months. My optimism increased, and I paused to think about how strongly my mood is tied to the weather.

For me, at least, the weather seems to impact my emotional state when I’m already experiencing a more extreme mood. If I’m closer to my default state of general contentedness, weather seems to influence it less. I’m not sure if this is typical, so I’d be curious to know, how do you think weather affects your mood?

Weather: Overcast with a strong breeze. Rain earlier in the day.

Mood:

Anna – 7 out of 10 on the “so miserable I can’t get out of bed” scale. Things are looking up since I accepted the fact a roommate by Nov. 1 is a pipe dream. Something about reframing…

Hannah – 7 out of 10. She’s lonely at the office. Does someone want to throw pebbles at her window and cheer her up?

Read Full Post »