The Average of Joy
If you walk around your town you are the witness to hundreds if not thousands of facial expressions. If a person is sitting on a train or just walking around listening to an MP3 player, chances are this facial expression is a good indication of the person’s average mood. Let’s define an average mood as the mood somebody is in when they aren’t thinking of anything in particular. Kind of the mood a person reverts back to after thinking of something positive or negative. When I was younger, my average mood used to be pretty low. Not quite to the point of depression, but definitely below what I’d call “sorta happy.” This wasn’t much of a problem during high school or college because I always had things to do keeping me busy. I had tiny goals along the way I was attempting to achieve. When left to my own devices after college, I didn’t have as much of a structure keeping me afloat. I thought I was depressed, but I was really just reverting to my average mood of the middle ground between depression and “sorta happy.”
While creating goals for myself like working on shows or the website helped, they did not target the problem of my average mood.
Listening to audio books like “Happy for No Reason” and “The Strangest Secret” started to clue me in to what Marci Shimoff called “The Happiness Set Point.” I dove right in attempting to fix the problem, but many of my efforts were quickly rebuked by an average that had been established for nearly three decades.
It was a slow and steady process that took several years to kick in, but I feel like I’m starting to see a light at the end of my efforts.
Here are five ways to improve your average mood and to raise it to a joy level.
1. Identify a time in your life in which you felt joy or something close to it. Cue up that memory in your head every time you want to reinforce that good things can and do happen. Train yourself to attempt to feel that same feeling when even small happy things occur in your life.
2. Remember that almost all people are always trying to help you improve your life. Any bank teller, coffee barista and customer service representative should be treated like a friend. Ask them how they are, tell them some of your jokes and smile even if you’re talking on the phone. You will notice a major difference after only a few interactions of this kind.
3. Actively love your partner and your friends. These are people that care about you and you should make multiple efforts to show them how you feel. Send loving texts, gifts or hugs to these people as often as you can. This will help to reinforce that you have good things in your life.
4. Celebrate even small successes. For example, if you have money troubles but you get a small gig that will keep you employed for just a week or a day, smile and think about how you’re headed in the right direction.
5. Improve what you can with the time and ability you have. There may be a lot of things dragging you down in life and they can feel overwhelming. Change what you can change and the rest should follow. If you are unemployed and overweight, take some of your new found time and start a workout plan. You’ll feel better about yourself because you’re making some progress in your life.
It has taken me a long while to let these five steps take hold of my life, but wouldn’t you know it, I spend most of my day smiling as I walk down the street.
I would say that this small change of my average mood to joy has led to hours of productivity and thousands of dollars in opportunities in my life and it could do the same in yours. Give it a shot. What do you have to lose, other than that grumpy look on your face? :)
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