Managing Moods

While positive emotions are short-lived, the moods that they affect can last for long periods of time. Working on the Pleasant Life includes positive interventions that are geared toward curtailing negative moods and amplifying positive moods.

Managing moods includes coping with negative events and can be considered the flip side of savoring. Todd Kashdan pointed out in a comment that emotion regulation has different temporal aspects, just as savoring does. Thus one can use antecedent focused strategies before you have an emotional experience, as well as response focused strategies after the fact. Here is Todd’s example in quotation marks slightly extended:


“I might be about to give a talk at a conference and remind myself that my wife is going to be there and I have given successful talks dozens of times in my career. I modified my thoughts about the situation before it even occurred, effectively managing my mood to be less worried, more engaged, and more excited. During the talk, I might find that my heart is racing after I accidentally belch while moving to the next powerpoint slide. I might realize the absurdity of the situation and when I see people laughing, I might recognize the humor in it if I was in the crowd listening to a gaseous speaker. And so, I work with my emotions while I am experiencing them.” After the speech is over, I can make certain choices in my appraisal of how it went that effect my emotional state. Thus I can either focus on the embarrassing moment, or find other things to remember.