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Stress Management

The "Bad Mood" Lifestyle: 11 Ways to Turn Yours Around and Create a Powerful NewReality

You're having another bad day. Your Internet is down. You discover a past-due credit card bill. Thesalesclerk rings up your order wrong. A traffic jam makes you late to pick up your child at daycare. Oh, nothing catastrophic occurs, just a series of frustrating delays, minor mishaps, and dropped details that, cumulatively, make you crazy. All at once you realize: I'm in a terrible mood, again. In fact, it's hard to remember the last time I was in a really good mood. What am I doing wrong ... and what can I do to change it?

You're not alone. More people than ever before are bogged down in the monotony of chronic bad moods, according to Brenda Anderson, vice president for global business development for SmithBucklin, an association management company. And it tends to be the little things--rather than, say, a serious injury or the death of a friend--that set the spiral into motion. Because we have such frantic schedules, there's more opportunity for things to go wrong ... and our agitation makes every issue seem more profound.

Anderson is the author of Playing the Quantum Field: How Changing Your Choices Can Change Your Life.

"Bad moods become bad days, which become bad weeks, which become bad months and years," says Anderson. "Before you know it, you're living an unhappy life and you probably think this is 'normal.' No wonder anti-depressant use is at an all-time high. It's a shame, because life can and should be wonderful. You can transcend the circumstances that are pulling you down ... you need only to learn how."

But aren't these maddening details – cancelled flights, missed appointments, bad haircuts – just reality? No, says Anderson. Your reality depends entirely on your choices: what you choose to observe and how you choose to see it. (Most of us view a cancelled flight as "bad," and that attitude triggers a bad mood –but we could just as easily see it as a chance to meet interesting people in the airport bar or spend a few fun hours shopping.)

Anderson, whose work is based on recent scientific research and discoveries in Quantum Physics, said every single thought we entertain connects us directly to the endless potential inherent in the Quantum Field. The key to true fulfillment is making "thought choices" that yield a high ROE (return on energy) –instead of low-ROE choices that deplete your resources and create more drama in your life.

"Every little choice you make counts," she said. "The impact of your choices, no matter how insignificant they may seem, is cumulative. Over time, the results expand. If your choices are negative, negative results expand and beget more negative results. If they're positive, the converse happens."

"This is why you have days when nothing goes right and you descend into a Black Hole," Anderson explained. "You're operating in the Fear Zone, and you feel restlessness, anger, frustration, despair, or apathy. Other days, everything 'clicks.' Doors open, obstaclesmelt away, golden opportunities materialize. On these days you're operating in the Power Zone, and it's a place of willingness, acceptance, optimism, and trust." Clearly, moving into the Power Zone helps us create larger, more rewarding lives.

But how do we begin to stop making fearful choices and start making powerful ones? Anderson offers some helpful hints:

  • Believe that you really do have the power to "create" your life.

      Belief is very powerful. It generates portals of possibility. Believe you can lose the weight or get a great job or meet your life partner – and you can. Every morning when you get up, you have a choice about how to create your day. Why not choose to Believe? When you do, you step into your true power. And make no mistake: believing is a choice. "I recently heard about an interview with his Holiness the Dalai Lama in which he was asked why he remained so positive in spite of all of the insurmountable challenges he and his people faced," Anderson writes. "He simply and quietly replied, 'It feels better.'"

  • Be aware of the seductive power of negativity.

      For some reason, negative, low-energy emotions and limiting beliefs are more tempting than positive emotions and empowering beliefs. We are more familiar with them, perhaps even more comfortable. After all, when we make low energy choices we don't have to be accountable and change our behavior or solve problems. We can just complain and blame. And misery does love company; you'll find plenty of people to back you up and add some complaints of their own. "These low-energy emotions and the victimmentality they engender pull you away from the life you want," says Anderson. "The second you doubt or diminish yourself, you step into the Black Hole. The more you feed it with worry, fear, anger, and stress, the larger it becomes and the faster you sink, making it harder to get out. The more hate, negativity, and judgment you throw at a problem, the bigger it gets. Everything feels more challenging because your internal expression has gone from a can-do, open approach to a dark place of scarcity that affects your family, your job, and everything you touch."

  • Give up your need to control.

      There is a big difference between "power" and "force." Power gives life and energy; force takes them away. Unfortunately, most of us try to control and overpower, using our energy to manipulate individuals and situations. (Micromanaging, suspicion, and negativity are signs that you're using force.) Problem is, force doesn't work. It is a low-ROE choice that feels bad to everyone involved. You simply can't control the reactions of other people. And though you may feel completely justified in using force, it usually results in a lose-lose outcome. On the other hand, when you operate from a place of power, controlling only yourself and your actions, you will always have a high ROE. Anderson recalls a pattern of force she fell into with Patrick, a gifted salesperson who never seemed to get his weekly reports filled out. No matter how much she nagged and reminded him, she didn't get what she wanted. Neither did Patrick. Finally, she made a conscious effort to redirect her energy from force to power. "We finally agreed that he could turn in his reports every other month and they'd be prepared by one of my employees in the regional office in Chicago," writes Anderson. "Think of all the energy wasted traveling to Texas to hassle him about admin policy when I could have been asking him how I could best help him to do his job better!"

  • State your intention and let go of the outcome.

      So, if you can't control situations, how do you ever get what you want? You clearly state your intention –and the result finds you. Your challenge is to let it find you. Rather than working harder or muscling an outcome, focus on what you want. Zero in on the what – a fulfilling relationship, a great job, the perfect house--not the how. "Think of the Field as a cosmic version of QVC," writes Anderson. "They both have everything you could possibly want, are 'on' twenty-four hours a day, and are waiting to fill your order. With the cosmic QVC, you imagine what you want, and you don't have to figure out whether to shop online or by phone or determine the size, model number, or which credit card to use. You just need to be clear on what you want to create in your life."

  • Choose not to be a victim.

      If you put yourself last, you'll be treated as last. (This is a problem that women, in particular, create.) Put yourself first. Care for the caretaker. Choosing to serve is different from being a martyr. If you stay home with your children out of fear or a feeling of obligation, you're operating from force, not power, because you're trying to make something work that doesn't inherently support your best interest. Instead of saying "I'm not going back to work right now because my family needs me at home," say, "I'm not going back to work right now because I choose to be home for my children."

  • Consciously search for high-energy choices.

      Remember, every choice you make expands your life exponentially. Even tiny moments are critical. That's why you must always be on the alert to make high-energy choices whenever possible. In her book Anderson relays a story about a dinner she was invited to early on in her career. It was a "power meal"with her company's new CEO, and Anderson felt out of her league. She nervously picked up a sour dough roll and began to eat it, realizing too late that she wasn't sure which bread plate was hers. A hush fell over the room as the CEO turned to her and quietly said, "Are you enjoying my bread?" Mortified, Anderson searched for a high-energy response. "I took a breath," she writes. "'Well, you weren't eating it!' I joked, flashing him a big smile. And he laughed. Actually, he howled. Everyone exhaled, and the conversations resumed as the atmosphere lightened up. I had chosen the power end of the Energy Spectrum: courage, not fear. Instead of getting horribly embarrassed and apologizing, I spoke from my power. Had I let the fear take over, I would have fumbled, apologized, tuned out for the rest of the meal, and missed out on loads of opportunity."

  • Stop the Head Trips.

      You're on a Head Trip when you mentally replay the same scenario and what-ifs over and over in your mind. It wears you down and creates anticipatory fatigue about something that will probably never happen.

      The more energy you expend on this type of mental exhaustion, the more it grows. Here are several ways to curtail them:

      Identify your triggers. Knowing the issues that set off a Head Trip – aging, appearance, money, sex, career – can help you short-circuit them.

      Manage the angst. When you Head Trip, your body kicks in with symptoms of stress. You may find it helpful to walk, run, swim, or dance to move this energy from your head and into your body and out.

      Get a reality check. Ask yourself, Do I have my facts right?

      Get out of your head and into action. You probably know the next step you need to take, and the Head Trip is actually about the steps after that.

  • Unhappy starts to stressful days can be turned around.

      Remember, you are responsible for the life you create. When you find yourself in a chaotic situation, realize that you created it. And if you create chaos, you can also create calm. When you find yourself in a "hurricane," stop the mental jabber and halt the Head Trips. Make your intention crystal clear. Then, review the challenges you're facing and make deliberate (high-energy) choices.

  • Suspend judgment.

      We all make hundreds of judgments every day and seldom realize they are mostly inaccurate. Learn to let go of your interpretations of and opinions about others, outcomes, and especially yourself. This will immediately take you out of the Fear Zone of low-energy choices and expand your possibilities. For example, when someone does not return your call, you probably jump to a single conclusion (He's not interested; She's mad at me; They're too busy to make time for me). This assumption may lead to a great deal of upset and stress. Next time such an event occurs, instead of leaping to a negative conclusion imagine at least one more possibility (Their voicemail isn't working; They have a hectic schedule). "Suspending judgment stops a downward spiral before it begins, allowing you to make more powerful, and less obvious, choices," writes Anderson. "You'll tap into the Field and experience frequent creative breakthroughs, better one-on-one relationships, and less negativity in your life."

  • Don't miss opportunities to Lighten Up.

      Lightening Up is the expressway to making the higher-energy choices. Laughter enables you to break away from the intensity and drama of a situation. What's more, it's amazing how people respond when you're playful and in the moment. In her book, Anderson describes a situation in which she missed a chance to Lighten Up. She was leading a meeting held in a Mexico resort city and was desperate to make a good impression on the executives in attendance. A midmorning coffee and fruit break had been scheduled. As break time neared, Anderson expected the hotel staff to discreetly begin setting up. Instead, a crash of cymbals rang out, the door flew open, and a man in a gorilla suit burst into the room and began passing out bananas. The author was furious. "Rather than seizing the opportunity to make light of the situation and have fun with it, I politely escorted the gorilla out of the room," she recalls. "Since he spoke no English and I spoke very little Spanish, we relied on hand signals to communicate, which made him seem even more like a gorilla. When I returned, I apologized for what had happened. If there was ever a time in my career to Lighten Up and laugh, it would have been then. But I just couldn't do it. I was too terrified that they thought I was an imbecile for scheduling this, and I lost a precious opportunity to connect with my colleagues that day."

    Besides her post with SmithBucklin, Anderson also serves as CEO of the Society of Incentive and Travel Executives (SITE). Playing the Quantum Field: How Changing Your Choices Can Change Your Life is available at bookstores nationwide and major online booksellers.

  • © 2006 Health Resources Publishing