17 Factors That Make Up a Mood

Positively Present - Makeup Mood
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I'm in the midst of working on a very exciting project (can't wait to tell you about it soon!), and I've been listening to makeup videos while I work. I rarely even wear makeup, but there's something about these videos that just works so well as background noise! All that makeup talk in the background has had me dying to draw makeup things so I was thrilled when I thought of the mood makeup idea the other day. 

Once I started thinking about it, I realized just how many things factor into a person's mood! It's incredible! Obviously, some of these impact some people more than others. (For example, I get super cranky if I'm hungry, but not everyone is bothered as much by an empty stomach.) I planned on just drawing the makeup and identifying the various mood influencers, but as I was working on it, I decided I wanted to explore (and explain) each one in a bit more detail. So, here we go...



    The more you know about yourself, the easier it becomes to identify (and predict) your moods. When I was young, I was quite moody and it always felt like these moods came out of nowhere. Now that I'm older (and more self-aware), I'm able to better assess why I'm feeling a certain way. Of course, I still experience a full range of moods, but knowing why they happen helps a great deal in terms of lessening or heightening (or potentially avoiding them -- for example, knowing I get cranky if I don't eat, I make sure to have snacks handy!).


    What we've experienced in life can have a tremendous impact on our moods. For example, if you once had a horrific experience at a county fair, going to an amusement park, fair, or circus might impact your mood for the worse. This is an extreme example, but our experiences shape our points of view in subtle ways too. Certain smells, sights, or sounds might trigger a recollection and you might not even realize that your mood has shifted because a certain smell wafted past! 


    The weather affects some people more than others, but a great many people I know have moods that are influenced by what's going on outside the window. Some people thrive on a hot, sunny day while others can't wait for the rain to arrive. Cloudy days (particularly if they come in week-long stretches) can bring down a mood in many people. Not to mention, some people can physically experience weather in their joints, sinuses, or other areas. Pay attention to how you feel during certain weather cycles. You can't control the weather, but you can use it to anticipate how you'll be impacted. 


    Some people (like me!) are just more prone to moods. I know some people who are typically pretty even-keeled, no big highs, no big lows. I, on the other hand, can experience a huge range of emotions (and sometimes all at once!). When considering what influences moods, it's important to factor in temperament because most people have a general range of emotions. It's not better or worse to be more "moody," but it's something worth understanding (and accepting) about yourself and those around you.  


    The more grateful you are, the easier it is to be in a better mood. (I'm pretty sure some studies have shown this to be true, but I know from personal experience that it's the truth, at least for me!) Keeping a gratitude journal can sound kind of cheesy, but ever since I started doing so years ago, I've found it to be so helpful for my mood. Whenever I feel really down, I think of what I'm fortunate to have in my life, and I immediately feel (at least a little bit!) better. 


    Hunger levels and mood seem related for a lot of people. Not everyone notices a drastic change in mood when they're hungry, but I think it's human nature to be a least a bit grumpy when we have empty stomachs. (After all, eating is part of how we survive!) As someone whose moods are definitely impacted by my hunger level, I do what I can to prevent extreme hunger (lots of little meals) so that I can at least positively impact that aspect of my mood. 


    The environment you're in plays a huge role in your mood. If you're somewhere you feel comfortable, relaxed, and at peace, it's going to be easier to be in a good mood. If you're in a place where you feel overwhelmed, hyper-stimulated, or uncomfortable, keeping an upbeat attitude is going to be trickier (though it's certainly possible!). We obviously can't avoid every environment that feels less-than-perfect, but it's worth noting where you are and what your mood is so you can at least be aware of what environments are more mood-boosting. 


    Closely tied with the environment factor is the memory you might have a certain place, person, or experience. Positive memories of a place will likely boost your mood when you're there, while negative memories might make it a bit tougher to feel happy in that place. Memories can change over time (fade, be replaced) and so they can be very complex and layered. They can't always be changed, but sometimes creating a new, happy memory in a previously mood-lowering spot can transform the way you experience it. 


    Everyone handles stress differently, but, for most of us, the more stressed we are, the harder it becomes to be in a good, relaxed mood. Stress is, unfortunately, a part of life, but if we find stress greatly impacting our moods we can work to lower stress levels or, in cases when that's not possible, we can find ways to combat the stress. I, personally, find yoga, drawing, and being around dogs to be some of the best tools in my stress-busting arsenal, but it might take some trial-and-error to figure out what works best for you! 


    Your state of mind can significantly influence your mood. If you wake up with a good attitude, sure that everything is going work out just fine, it's easier to cope when conflict and struggles arise. However, on the flip side, if you're certain everything is terrible, you're going to have a tough time making the most of even the best moments. A positive mindset takes time and practice, but learning to be optimistic makes a huge different when it comes to any emotional state.


    I could probably tell you, without a calendar, what day of the month it is based on my mood alone! Not everyone's mood is heavily influenced by their hormones, but, if you pay attention to how you feel at different times in the month, you might realize that your hormone levels do impact your mood. (While it hasn't been proven that men have monthly hormone cycles, they do apparently have daily cycles so, if you're a guy, pay attention to your moods during different times of the day.)


    Some people aren't greatly influenced by those around them, but most people are impacted in some way. Some people thrive around a lot of other people; others prefer not to have too many humans around. Some people are incredibly tuned into the moods of others (typically known as empaths) and are typically swayed a great deal by the way others are feeling. Other people are oblivious to the moods of others. Regardless of how you feel around other people, it's likely they influence your mood in some way (for better or worse!)


    Exercise is a mood-booster so the more you do of it, the easier it is to be in a good mood (unless you have an unhealthy relationship with exercise and overdo it). For the average person, even just a short walk or a few jumping jacks can lift a mood a little bit. If you're not a habitual exerciser (me: looks in mirror with raised eyebrow), it's worth incorporating into your routine for some mood-boosting benefits. It doesn't have to be a lot, but it can make a big difference (so I've heard...). 


    At any given time, we can only see from one point of view (both literally and figuratively), so this obviously impacts our mood. If you can't see the whole picture (and it's pretty hard to, since we can't look everywhere at once and we have no idea what the future will hold so even if something seems terrible now, we don't know if it'll ultimately be great), you might be missing out on something that could influence your mood. Thinking about this can be frustrating, but accepting it can make it easier to cope with your current perspective. 

  15. HEALTH

    This is a big influencer because it includes both physical and mental health (which are very connected!). If you're going through health troubles or struggling mentally, your mood is likely to be impacted significantly. While we can't control every aspect of our health, there are things we can do to take care of ourselves so that our bodies (and minds!) are in the best possible shape. What we eat, do, think, and don't do influences our health (and mood!) so it's worth at least trying to be healthy. 


    The media you consume (social media, TV, Internet, books, podcasts, etc.) can impact your mood more than you might realize. Not all media consumption is bad, so it's worth paying attention to how you feel when you're consuming different kinds of media (or when you're on different social media platforms). You have a lot of control over what you consume (you don't "have" to watch anything, unless it's part of your job to do so) and knowing how your consumption influences your mood is important! 

  17. SLEEP

    And, finally, sleep! Sleep, for most of us, significantly changes how we feel. A good night's sleep can completely transform a mood. Little to no sleep makes for very cranky, delirious, and (when driving, etc.) dangerous moods. Personally, I think the optimal amount of sleep varies a great deal from person to person (and by age group), so it's a good idea to tune into how you feel after certain amounts of sleep to know what will likely cultivate the best mood for you. 

When I first made this illustration, I really didn't consider just how many different factors go into a mood! Whenever I'm a good or bad mood, I can typically pinpoint one main reason why I feel the way I do, but now I'm starting to understand just how many aspects impact the way I'm feeling. Even though this is quite a lengthy list, I bet there are even more factors that go into a mood. If you can think of any I've missed, leave them in the comments below! 


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Regard Yourself as a Cloud

Positively Present Alan Watts Clouds


Regard yourself as a cloud.  Clouds never make mistakes.  Did you ever see a cloud that was misshapen? Did you ever see a badly designed wave? No, they always do the right thing.  And if you will treat yourself for a while as a cloud or wave, you’ll realize that you can’t make a mistake whatever you do.  Because even if you do something that appears totally bizarre, it will all come out in the wash somehow or another.  Then through this capacity you will develop a kind of confidence.  And through confidence you will be able to trust your own intuition.

Alan Watts


Over the past few months, I've been listening to a lot of Alan Watts videos on YouTube. Most of them say very similar things, but the underlying theme is the same: acceptance

You don't know what's going to happen. You don't always (ever?) know what the best decision is. The infinite number of possibilities in life can feel overwhelming. Most of us are so overwhelmed by them that we just ignore them entirely, convincing ourselves that we have no choice but to stay where we are, to do what we've always done.

But we always have a choice. And choice, odd as it might sound, can be a terrible burden. That is, until you start listening to Alan talk about clouds and water and explaining just how essential acceptance is. If you never know what's going to happen (regardless of the path you choose), how can you do anything but accept what's going to happen? 

Every struggle we face -- both internal and external -- stems from a lack of accepting what is. You don't always have to like what is, but if you don't accept it, you will be in a perpetual state of stress and anxiety (which, to be honest, is what a lot of us are in a lot of the time.) 

Rather than reading my thoughts about what Watts has said about acceptance and choice, I recommend you check out this beautifully edited video featuring his words and consider how choosing acceptance -- regardless of the other choices you make -- might improve your life. 



If you can't see the video, click here to watch. 


Choosing acceptance, even in the most positive of situations, is no easy task. We're taught from day one to always be striving, to always seek improvement, to analyze and assess, to judge ourselves and the world around us. But imagine if you could truly embrace these words...

When you look at the clouds they are not symmetrical. They do not form fours and they do not come along in cubes, but you know at once that they are not a mess. [...] They are wiggly but in a way, orderly, although it is difficult for us to describe that kind of order. Now, take a look at yourselves. You are all wiggly. [...] We are just like clouds, rocks and stars. Look at the way the stars are arranged. Do you criticize the way the stars are arranged?

Alan Watts

What would your life look like if you accepted the world (and yourself!) as it is? What would it feel like to choose acceptance over anxiety, to feel peace instead of the constant push to do or be something else? 


Thought-Tinters: 8 Things That Impact Your Thinking

Your Toughts Colored By

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Whenever I do interviews, one of the questions I get asked most frequently is, "If you could give out one piece of advice, what would it be?" It's a tough one to answer, but my instinct is almost always to say, "Pay attention to your thoughts." It sounds like simple (or perhaps even strange) advice -- after all, aren't we always paying attention to our thoughts if we're thinking them? But, if you think about it (ha!), we actually don't pay attention to our thoughts very often.

Maybe when we're infants or children we pay closer attention because many of them are so new, but as adults, we've often grown so used to the voice inside our own head that we don't give it much thought, particularly when it comes to thoughts we have frequently. And paying attention to our thoughts can actually be challenging if we're not used to it. I learned best how to do this by reading Byron Katie's Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life. That kind of grandiose subtitle is often a stretch but, in this case, it happened to be true. Reading that book, and learning how to pay attention to my thoughts, really did change my life.

If you've been wondering about how to change your own thoughts (or just curious about what it would be like to better understand your own mind), I'd highly recommend reading that book. But if you're short on time, here are a few things that might influence your thoughts. Taking note of them (and perhaps changing them if you don't find them to be positive and beneficial to you) can really help you understand more about how you see the way you think. These are just a few of the various aspects of life that can influence you (some others include your culture, time period, what you eat, who you surround yourself with, whether or not you use mind-altering substances, etc.), but these are, in my opinion, some of the most important to reflect upon in order to better understand yourself. 



What you love -- or don't love -- impacts the way you see the world. There's a reason that the phrases "rose-colored glasses" and "blinded by love" exist. What we care about (or don't) influences how we see the things and people around us. Just think about a few things you really love (right now I'm envisioning dogs, rainbows, and a big stack of books from the library). You probably feel really positive and joyful thoughts about them, don't you? Whenever you encounter those things in the world, you'll be predisposed to enjoy them because you already have positive experiences with them. This isn't to say this is a bad or a good thing. It's just something worth noticing as you go about your day-to-day life. 



Likewise, what you see is going to have a big influence on your thoughts. If you witness something horrific (or watch it on the news), you're going to be impacted by that image. If you see something outrageously wondrous, that image is likely to stay with you for awhile. You cannot control everything you see, but you do have the ability to make choices when it comes to a lot of what you look at (and surround yourself with). Pay attention to what you spend most of your time looking at and consider how it makes you feel. Do you feel uplifted? Informed? Interested? Bored? Overwhelmed? Knowing that what you look at influences your mental state can be the push you need to pay attention and look at what is positive and productive for you. 



If you've never done something, it's going to be pretty difficult to understand what it's truly like. For example, I've never had a baby, and though I ask my friends and family members for all of the details, I'll never fully understand what that experience is like (no matter how vivid the thoughts in my mind!) unless I do it for myself. Understanding this notion -- that you cannot 100% understand until you do it -- can be really helpful not only in interacting with those who have had experiences different from our own, but also when trying to share our experiences with others. Our thinking can, for better or worse, be limited. Sometimes this can be a good thing, but recognizing it can help to improve our interactions with others and help us assess what kinds of actions we want to experience first hand. What you do shapes you, so choose wisely. 



Reading ties closely with seeing, but it's worthy of its own category because it influences me so deeply. I read a lot of books. I always have and I hopefully always will! What I've read -- whether it's nonfiction, fiction, a newspaper, magazine article, back of a cereal box, etc. -- has had a humungous impact on who I am as a person. Reading makes me more empathetic and open-minded. While I cannot fully understand the experiences of others (even if I've had them myself, since we are all so incredibly different), reading allows me to have a better understand of things I will never live through myself. Reading is, in my opinion, a gateway to open-mindedness. The more you read, the more you know, I believe Dr. Seuss once said. Personally, I avoid reading things that scare or upset me, but that's my preference. Whatever you choose to read, it's helping you to think differently and in new ways. (Did this just become a PSA for reading? Yes, yes it did. Go to the library!)



Just as what you read and see contributes to how you think, so, too, does what you hear. Whether it's news, YouTube videos, podcasts, music, the voice of a loved one -- it doesn't matter. It's changing how you think about the world and about yourself. Which means it's very important to select what you listen to with care. You don't have to limit yourself (after all, the world is a really big place and there's probably all kinds of cool things to listen to that we don't even know about!), but pay attention. Every single word that you here influences you in some way. Some more than others, yes, but all of it matters. Take notice of what you listen to most and, most importantly, what you're thinking about when you listen to it. 



Feelings and thoughts are so closely intertwined that sometimes it's hard to know the difference. A thought is typically complex, while a feeling can be narrowed down to one word. A thought: "I have so much work to do that I'll never get it done." A feeling: "Overwhelmed." They're certainly linked and one can impact the other, but often the gut instincts, those feelings that arrive without us even realizing it, influence our thoughts. For example, you often feel overwhelmed -- a tenseness in the shoulders, a clenched jaw, a snippy attitude -- before you can form the thought, "I am feeling overwhelmed right now." Pay attention to the ways feelings and thoughts work together and look for the truth and root cause (Katie's book referenced above can really help with this.) Feelings aren't facts, but sometimes they can appear that way to our thinking minds, so it's vital to recognize the role feelings play in your thoughts. 



The more you know, the easier it becomes to understand the world (and the notion that so little of it can be fully explained!). The Red Hot Chili Peppers have a song lyrics that goes, "The more I see, the less I know," and it's honestly one of my favorite lines ever because it's oddly true. What you know matters (just consider how much more you understand as an adult compared to your childhood self) and that shapes who you are. What you don't know also shapes who you are. So many of the worlds biases and prejudices are based on what's not known. Knowledge is power, sure, but the most powerful knowledge you can have is recognizing how little you know and how your small amount of knowledge transforms the way you think. 



And, finally, what you want (and value) has an incredible power over how you think. If money and success is important to you, those things will be the focus of your thoughts. If you family is your focus, your thoughts will prioritize them. If desperately want a relationship, finding a partner will always be on your mind. If you desire to make a positive change in the world, your thoughts will home in on how you can do that. What you want guides the choices you make. No one thing is better than the other to want (no judgments here!), but taking note of what you want (or think you want) can be an essential element of understanding your thinking and how it shapes the way you're living. 



As you can see, there are so many factors that go into every single thought in your head. It's hard to imagine fully understanding all of it, no matter how much soul-searching we do, but it is worth paying attention to how (and why!) we think what we do. Our thinking shapes our actions, choices, feelings, relationships, and so much more. The better we know ourselves, the more we can shape our lives to live the way we'd like to. If you're struggling with self-awareness or self-love, shift your thinking with one of my workbooks, available for purchase here (or by clicking one of the images below!). 


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