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What is the key to elevating your mood?

Image credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10521005

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Povilas S
Povilas S Sep 21, 2020
9
Creative contributions

Bad mood as a comprehension booster

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J
Juran Sep 21, 2020
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Povilas S
Povilas S5 months ago
I think that the argument of most valuable art being created out of suffering is a meme-like myth or at least a misconception. There are countless examples of positive songs, paintings, movies, etc., that have been created out of good emotions and that are of great value both subjectively and objectively (if we can talk about objectivity in valuing art at all). I agree that negative experiences might be necessary to bring a certain depth to life or catharsis and revelation that comes after them, but that catharsis and revelation is already a positive emotion and beautiful things are then born out of it. So it's the transformation of negativity into positivity that brings the merits rather than negativity itself. Or it might be a wish to bring a change to negativity, like making the world a better place, etc. The important question here I think is if it's possible to maintain happiness more constantly without experiencing negativity or are the two inseparable from one another like yin and yang? It's also not quite true that positive mood is experienced mostly in safe-non challenging environments. That's more comfort and security, but it's just the passive aspects of positive mood. Safe non-challenging environments might just be very boring and give a lazy feel. People engage in extreme sports and all kinds of intentionally challenging experiences to get a boost of hormones. In fact if life is not at all challenging it's not a very fulfilling life. It's hard to believe that negative mood could increase motivation and performance, would be interesting to see the actual publications. There's an inverse proportion between the two - dopamine regulates motivation, when its levels drop, we feel bad, when we feel good - we are up for many things. Once again, this might be because of the contrast of things, like "the weather is bad, I'm going to take the opportunity to study", so this is already a shift in mood and motivation, but if you're in an ongoing down mood and would sit down to study, the results wouldn't be very good.
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J
Juran5 months ago
Maybe my thought was misunderstood and I apologize. I wanted to introduce the usefulness of a bad mood. Of course, there are plenty of masterpieces that have been created out of good emotions, but we both agree that the negative experiences are "the downs" we sometimes need. There is no catharsis without negative feelings. Considering the other argument on safe non-challenging environments, I could use your strategy now. Maybe people engage in extreme sports and challenging experiences to change their safe and non-dangerous routine life to something riskier, just so they could have "the comeback" you mentioned - mood boost. Referring to your "ying-yang question", I believe the nature functions in the circular form here, too, but there is still plenty of unanswered questions.
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Povilas S
Povilas S5 months ago
In a nutshell - there is no catharsis without negative feelings, but you don't need catharsis when you feel good anyway. Catharsis is a kind of remedy transforming negative feelings into positive, emotional healing process, so it might be considered a mood lifter on its own. About the other thing - there's a difference when people engage in challenging activities out of free will and when they can't or don't know how to get out of negative emotions. In the latter case, some form of remedy or technique would be very useful. Emotions induced by challenging activities are usually not negative, they are more exciting unless you are pushed into that against your own will. When creating this session I had in mind more low energy emotions like lingering sadness, self-pity, laziness, depression, apathy, etc., rather than stress. A bit of stress sometimes might be useful to get out of those, so it might serve as a mood-lifting key. We cycle through shorter or longer periods of those low-energy emotions almost every day and I don't see how they serve us in any beneficial way. At least this doesn't serve me and I would like to eliminate that, but it's a rather slow process of self-development. I know it might sound unnatural to always feel good, but I'm not talking about not being able to experience anything else, like sadness or grief, I'm more talking about that how you feel would be your own choice.

Do we need to really 'elevate' the mood?

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Subash Chapagain
Subash Chapagain Sep 21, 2020

"System" as a curious word

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Anja M
Anja M Oct 07, 2020

[1]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noonday_Demon

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Michael Dembinski
Michael Dembinskia month ago
Great to see this subject tackled so seriously.

I'd like to start by reflecting on the profound difference between 'joy' and 'pleasure'; the former being what we should aim for in terms of lifting mood; the second as something more material and fleeting. 'Retail therapy' or driving a car way too fast down a winding road is pleasure, rather than joy.

I have asked myself often how to create those moments of joy repeatably, reliably.

Too often, the answer is related to weather - like many people in the Northern Hemisphere, I get Subsyndromal Seasonal Affective Disorder, a milder form of SAD; brought on by the Hammer of Darkness as I call it, after the clocks go back in late October, lack of sunlight brings me down. Sunny days in midwinter, however, lift my mood - especially when snow on the ground reflects that brightness.

Anyway, more about the search for repeatable moments of joy...

https://jeziorki.blogspot.com/2020/09/repeatable-moments-of-joy.html
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Povilas S
Povilas Sa month ago
Hi Michael. Thanks for contributing to the topic:) It's a very important subject indeed. Even the most important, if you'd ask me.

I agree with what you said about joy vs. pleasure in the sense that the latter one is more physical/physiological and the former is more psychological/emotional/spiritual. But I would add that it's hard and perhaps too complicated and unnecessary to try distinguishing the two, because they are usually intertwined and hardly separable from one another, just like physiology is influencing your emotions and emotions your physiology.

Those two terms are also subjective in a personal sense, for example, for me, driving a car for fun associates much more with joy rather than pleasure. Also shopping, for me, most of the time is not a very joyful neither pleasant activity, but in some cases, it could be joyful and for some people, I believe it might be joyful in general.

I also agree with weather and especially sunny days having a huge influence. Although from personal experience I'd say being in predominantly sunny geographical locations you get used to it quite quickly and just can't tell that it's affecting you, so I believe you develop a certain tolerance, like with everything that's enjoyable. The effect is the greatest/most noticeable and perhaps the most enjoyable when you can experience contrast - e.g. after a week of cloudy days get a few days or a week of sunny ones. Or just fly to a southern hemisphere in winter.

I like your blog post about repeatable joy. Two things that stood out the most for me - "failing to plan is planning to fail" (I usually improvise more than plan, so maybe need more balance on that). On the other hand, this reminded me of the opposite saying - "best plan no plan". Also the closing paragraph about money not buying happiness, but buying options and that it's up to you what you are going to do with those options - very true.
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Povilas S
Povilas S5 months ago
Wow, that's a whole extensive article on the topic, thanks a lot, I appreciate it:) Approaching this from a spiritual/philosophical perspective - yes, uncertainty seems to be at the core of "depressive episodes" not only for those with diagnosed mental illnesses but for everyone and it's probably right to state that in general, it's responsible for most if not all psychological suffering.

It seems to me that this is what Buddhists mean by stating that ignorance is the cause of suffering - your knowledge (and I'm not talking about intellectual knowledge, although it might play a significant part also) is not deep or full enough and therefore you don't feel grounded and confident at the core of your being and this keeps resurfacing from your subconscious manifesting as emotional "pits". A way out of this seems to be by turning your interest to existential questions and seeking to know the truth by whatever means possible. Usually, those means turn to be various spiritual practices, but not necessarily.

But there are different approaches, one of them, which I’m interested in is scientific-technological or something in between that and spiritual-psychological one. You may try to find objective reasons behind your negative emotions and this sometimes may be the best approach, but you might look at it the other way around too – that emotions themselves are the primary cause of how you perceive and in the end create your circumstances.

And really when you feel good “bad things” happening to you don’t seem so (if at all) bad anymore and when you feel down even the most benign and peaceful circumstances may appear irritating. So your own emotional energy seems to be responsible for this. In this approach, the best way is to try to influence your emotions directly rather than digging for reasons and trying to influence your circumstances. When you are in a good emotional state you can also think more clearly and real reasons and effective methods to deal with things will more likely come to you then.

So in this approach “the system” to directly and effectively influence your mood is a very helpful thing to develop. But I personally don’t have in mind a rational step-by-step system, I envision it as either technological or a self-help one, but in the latter case it would be to more develop your intuition and creativity and learn to adapt something suitable for each different situation rather than clinging to the same methods/habits, it should be something quite the opposite – trying to break out of those each time:)

My personal ways of coping: balance acceptance and distraction

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Nivari Van der Voorde
Nivari Van der Voorde Nov 11, 2020

[1]Johanna M. Gostner & all, Coffee Extracts Suppress Tryptophan Breakdown in Mitogen-Stimulated Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cells, Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 2015

[2]Joanna Rymaszewska & all, Whole-body cryotherapy – promising add-on treatment of depressive disorders, psychiatria Polska, 2019

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Povilas S
Povilas S3 months ago
Same here. In the past, I tried mostly to feel the emotions all the way through, as long as they lasted, but this has a downside that you start lingering on them and attract more negative thoughts and get stuck in a cycle, so it's important to do whatever you can, actively, to try to get out of the negative mood at the same time not suppressing or pushing away the negative feelings while they're still there. Although this balance is hard to maintain. You might bend a bit towards one side or the other. When I'm active I tend to suppress negative emotions a bit, and when I feel like I'm tired of everything and just giving up then I feel more, but at the same time find excuses for laziness and negative thoughts. So this "cycle" in life kind of goes back and forth to keep you in balance I guess:)
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Nivari Van der Voorde
Nivari Van der Voorde3 months ago
Povilas S Yes, very recognizable. I had a period where I forced myself to be content with no distractions at all, trying to find peace within. I even thought that working was a way of distraction, which it actually is, but that is not a negative thing necessarily.

Anyway, now I see things differently. I do believe it is in our nature to progress and that we feel fulfilled if we experience this progression. But also connection and inspiration are ingredients, for me at least, to feel happy. I made a 'model' on this, with ingredients of aspects in life that I need to maintain to keep feeling good. Maybe worth sharing.

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Povilas S
Povilas S3 months ago
Nivari Van der Voorde Yes, of course, if you don't mind:) I catch myself working on the same model sometimes, but can't say I've finished it. It's probably very unique for each individual, but still worth sharing I think, cause others might find effective elements to place in their models:)

The feelgood neurotransmitters Dopamine, Serotonin, Oxytocin and Endorphins

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Darko Savic
Darko Savic Oct 08, 2020

[1]Happy Brain Chemicals by Loretta Breuning https://youtu.be/ldPuBk7a9V4

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Povilas S
Povilas S5 months ago
There's a good article proposing a model to explain all emotions by different concentrations of 3 main monoamine neurotransmitters in the brain: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/51863789_A_new_three-dimensional_model_for_emotions_and_monoamine_neurotransmitters. Apart from dopamine and serotonin there's also nor-adrenaline. The model is simplified and many neurotransmitters (including a couple which you mentioned) are left out, but the arguments presented for those three being the main ones involved are quite convincing and the model is nicely visualized as a cube with each neurotransmitter concentration being its composing vector. Excitement is presented as an emotion felt when concentrations of all three are the highest, and really - excitement seems to be life-driving emotion.
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Darko Savic
Darko Savic5 months ago
Was it this? https://i0.wp.com/www.anxietyhack.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/DOPAMINE.png
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Povilas S
Povilas S5 months ago
Yes, that's it. It's either derived from the same article or the theory developed since.. Do you have some background info to read about it? Where it was originally taken from? I can't find anything on that anxiety page..

Mood oriented search engine

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Povilas S
Povilas S Sep 21, 2020

What makes you happy?

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Muhammad M Rahman
Muhammad M Rahman Feb 19, 2021

It's quite a personal experience for everyone.

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Jamila
Jamila Sep 22, 2020

Imagination

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Povilas S
Povilas S Dec 10, 2020

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