In the book, "Don't Sweat The Small Stuff...and it's all small stuff," Richard Carlson, Ph. D. offers the advice to "Become aware of your moods and don't allow yourself to be fooled by the low ones." He says that, "Your own moods can be extremely deceptive. They can, and probably do, trick you into believing your life is far worse than it really is. When you're in a good mood, life looks great. You have perspective, common sense, and wisdom. In good moods, things don't feel so hard, problems seem less formidable and easier to solve. When you're in a good mood, relationships seem to flow and communication is easy. If you are criticized you take it in stride. On the contrary, when you're in a bad mood, life looks unbearably serious and difficult. You have very little perspective. You take things personally and often misinterpret those around you, as you impute malignant motives into their action.
Here's the catch: People don't realize their moods are always on the run. They think instead that their lives have suddenly become worse in the past day, or even the last hour. So, someone who is in a good mood in the morning might love his wife, his job, and his car. He is probably optimistic about his future and feels grateful about his past. But by late afternoon, if his mood is bad, he claims he hates his job, thinks of his wife as a nuisance, thinks his car is a junker, and believes he's going nowhere in his career. If you ask him about his childhood while he's in a low mood, he'll probably tell you it was extremely difficult. He will probably blame his parents for his current plight.
Such quick and drastic contrasts may seem absurd, even funny-but we're all like that. In low moods we lose our perspective and everything seems urgent. We completely forget that when we are in a good mood, everything seems so much better. We experience the identical circumstances- who we are married to, where we work, the car we drive, our potential, or childhood- entirely differently, depending on our mood! When we are low, rather than blaming our mood as would be appropriate, we instead tend to feel that our whole life is wrong. It's almost as if we actually believe that our lives have fallen apart in the past hour or two.
The truth is, life is almost never as bad as it seems when you're in a low mood. Rather than staying stuck in a bad temper, convinced you are seeing life realistically, you can learn to question your judgement. Remind yourself, 'Of course I'm feeling defensive [or angry, frustrated, stressed, depressed]; I'm in a bad mood. I always feel negative when I'm low.' When you're in an ill mood, learn to pass it off as simply that: an unavoidable human condition that will pass with time, if you leave it alone. A low mood is not the time to analyze your life. To do so is emotional suicide. If you have a legitimate problem, it will still be there when your state of mind improves. The trick is to be grateful for our good moods and graceful in our low moods- not taking them too seriously. The next time you feel low, for whatever reason, remind yourself, 'This too shall pass.' It will."