Happy or Grumpy? How Your Mood Affects Those Around You
Do you wake up on the bright side or the dark side of the bed?
Some people just wake up with a sunny disposition while others need an extra boost to get them fired up for the day ahead. Much of this has to do with mindset and inner self talk that creates ingrained belief systems – the good news is that we can re-write our story anytime! Other reasons you may feel like your energy or happiness factor may be lacking are related to lifestyle choices like eating a nutritious diet, participating in physical activity and getting 7-8 hours of quality sleep daily.
When was the last time you were around someone who was in a grumpy or stressed out mood? How did that person’s presence make you feel? Did you know that negativity, stress, and uncertainty can be picked up like second-hand smoke? Emotional contagion is a real thing! If someone in your visual field is anxious and highly expressive, either verbally or non-verbally, there’s a high likelihood you’ll experience those emotions as well, negatively impacting your brain’s performance.
According to Shawn Achor, Happiness researcher and positive psychology advocate from Harvard states the following: “Observing someone who is stressed — especially a co-worker or family member can have an immediate effect upon our own nervous systems. A separate group of researchers found that 26% of people showed elevated levels of cortisol just by observing someone who was stressed. Second-hand stress is much more contagious from a romantic partner (40%) than a stranger, but when observers watched a stressful event on video with strangers, 24% still showed a stress response.”
I experienced this phenomenon the other morning with my partner Ian. I got up quietly that morning at 5:30am, to meditate and read part of an inspirational book. I enjoy this habit to start my day off well. I felt uplifted and light hearted as I returned to the kitchen to find Ian deep in thought. We went out to walk the dog together and I could tell he was bothered by the tone in his voice and his choice to rant about a few topics that were disturbing him. He is usually very solution oriented and motivated, but that morning was a less cheerful one for him. I noticed myself feeling agitated and impatient listening to the complaints and realized that in the past I too have been the person who has ranted or complained to others. I suddenly felt remorseful towards all the people I had ever imposed an emotional outburst and made a choice to shift my behavior going forward to leave people feeling uplifted instead of the contrary.
We all have the power to influence the environments in which we work and live. Happiness is a choice. It doesn’t mean that everything is perfect, happiness is an intrinsic state of being that encourages us to look beyond the imperfections and be happy anyway.
Go from Grumpy to Happy in 10 steps:
- Discuss problems without getting emotional. You will conserve your own energy and affect those around you less.
- Learn to witness and label your pain or emotional discomfort for what it is. Watch, feel and accept what is going on inside without judging it.
- Be compassionate to yourself and others. No human being lives without challenges. When you are feeling some sort of negative emotion, or if you notice it in someone else, wish yourself and them peace and happiness.
- Shift the perspective. Offer a more upbeat point of view. Every difficult interaction is an opportunity to practice this key skill. When we change the way we look at things, the things we look at change.
- Energy flows where focus goes. Negative thinking combined with angry or fearful emotions feeds nasty behavior and creates a negative cycle - a sure-fire way to grumpiness. Choose solution oriented thoughts, encouraging words and helpful actions to shift the vibe towards positivity and feeling good.
- Keep an attitude of gratitude. Instead of focusing on what is wrong, shift your thought process towards what is right. Spiral upwards instead of downwards by changing the thoughts you think towards what you appreciate in the moment like that warm cup of tea you just had or anything in your life in general such as supportive friends or family members.
- Move you body! Just 15 minutes of rhythmic physical activity is like taking an anti-depressant. Get up and get moving to boost your mood.
- Quiet time. Start your day with at least 10-15 minutes of meditation. Breathe, get quiet and set the tone for the day ahead.
- Set an intention. Ask yourself: How do I want to be today? How do I want to leave others feeling? Acts of kindness like praising a co-worker or thanking the cashier at the grocery store will help you feel good by uplifting others.
- Be mindful. Be well. When you are well rested, well mentally, well physically, well emotionally, well spiritually, it is easier to stay centered around others (regardless of their mood) and to be a powerful force for positive transformation.
So, the next time you find yourself in a grumpy mood, try one of these tips to shift your inner state. These suggestions allow Ian and I to be more conscious of the energy we are spreading. Going forward, we both pledge to spread more “happy” and less “grumpy”! An initiative we hope you will be inspired by too!
Laura Warf is the founder of the School of Happiness holistic wellness center whose methods are based on tools from ancient teachings to today’s current research to inspire others to take charge of their complete well-being by following her 8 essential elements to health and happiness. She is a healthy living advocate, passionate wellness educator and mind-body specialist offering services in yoga, meditation, energetic balancing, and fitness conditioning. Visit Laura Warf | School of Happiness