A crummy mood is no fun, especially when you find yourself mired within one whilst smack dab in your precious leisure time. Like sitting on a cold stone, ennui can sap our energy, springing leaks in our mental fortitude and catch us off guard, knotted up in negative thinking and the “what if-why me-who cares” rollercoaster of redundant dumbness.
Everyone has their own strategies and coping mechanisms to flee from the Funk. Some useful, some not. As I looked around this perfectly ordinary Friday and realized I felt sad, defeated, and lonely for NO good reason, I sprang into action and got the ball rolling.
Murder the Doubt.
Most moods lie in some form of doubt, and all doubt rests in vaguery. Win and loss is clear. Life and death, crystal. But doubt, doubt exists in a fogzone where we don’t know, and some part of us doesn’t want to know. To be certain of one’s ignorance or limitations is not doubt.
Do I feel like crap? OK! Good, I see it plainly! No more doubt and self friction, I’m not at my best!
If your bad mood seems indescribable, you have your challenge before you. Describe it! In what way are you sad? This does not need to involve language. Are your emotions springing from memory, or emotional pain or baggage? Do you remember feeling this way yesterday, or this morning? How long do you think it will last? Are you even here? Is anyone home to feel this way or are you just living in Sleep? Bringing an analytical bent to an emotional downwardness can wake you up and help you make clear to yourself just what is wrong; what needs to be changed, and what needs to be accepted.
Stop what’s making it worse.
This is such a common thing that I do all the time. I am engaged in an activity where I know I am driving a habitually felt bad mood deeper into my mind, but I keep going there. The insidious thing about dopamine is that it doesn’t necessarily give you the feeling of “I like that” or even “I am satisfied”, but simply “I want more!” Posture and breathing play a roll as well. Feel closed in and isolated from the world? Hunching over a screen with a hand blithely cradling your frowning face as you scroll through internet pages could be playing a factor. I know it’s painful, somehow the animal-self thinks more immediate gratification will cure you. Not so. You have to wrench away from the activity or mental posture with a feeling of half-finishedness.
Grapple with the immediate denying force.
I once described boredom, in a moment of lucidity towards a Teacher of mine, as “a closing of doors…trying to exit a room, but your hand keeps closing the door in front of you”. An activity, endeavor, or a simple practice can bring you out of a funk, but you must do the thing. A common reaction I see within me when I am trying to dig myself out of a bad mood is attempting to do something new, and having an immediate aversion to it. No matter the task, chore or hobby, I will suddenly get accosted by negative imagination painting a picture of “why I shouldn’t”. Gurdjieff said this kind of energy is the Denying Force which comes up against the force of affirmation and must be reconciled. I find this useful, as simply telling myself “no, I actually want to do this!” seems facile, but accepting that I don’t want to “do anything” but doing it anyway, makes me feel more integrated and allows me to push forward.
Make an emergency to do list.
Lists wont make you happier, but they do serve a valuable purpose. Manifesting your intentions in the physical world can help anchor the mind and drive off Ennui. The more you follow your to-do lists, the more powerful of a psychic motivator they become.
A quick fix for a bad mood, especially if it’s paired with apathy, is to make a “next hour” to do list. Write down a *very* short list of things you want to accomplish in the next hour. For example: I knew in the next hour I wanted to – take a shower, write this blog post, and do some Arabic language learning. This is hardly a courageous undertaking, but still challenging if you feel like slobbing around all day. I suggest writing these down on a blank sheet of printer paper, in large indelible markerstrokes. The more subconsciously akin to a legal document you make this parchment, the better.
Change what you are eating.
Your brain is made of food. Many people forget this axiom. The components that play a part in every thought generated within you was, at some point in the past, something you put in your mouth. A mood can seem as concrete an inscrutable as a battering ram, until it is realized you have simply plunked down in the front row of the insulin spike express, driven by chief conductor Doughnut Q. Carbington and his Cereal Bowl Brigade. Make your next meal a balanced one, washed down with a large glass of water, quit hopping from one sugar heavy pick-me-up to the next (they always put you down afterward!) and watch as your demeanor improves.
DO THAT THING YOU SHOULD BE DOING!
Aah… you thought I would ignore it? You thought we would placate each other by beating around the bush with self help maxims and avoid the obvious? No no, we both know you should be doing that thing you said you would do. You know, that task which you are now avoiding by doing other, smaller tasks and which lies at the root of your terrible mood? Well, now is the time. Bite the crow and eat the bullet. Roll up your boot straps and buckle your sleeves. Get [THAT THING] done and we’ll both feel better for it!