Do you have a book that you wish you had read ten years earlier?
Mind Over Mood is that book for me.
Written by Drs. Dennis Greenberger and Christine Padesky, it “teaches you to identify your thoughts, moods, behaviors, and physical reactions in small situations as well as during major events in your life.”
Then, in large part by evaluating the propriety of each, the book shows how you can work toward bringing your moods and behaviors in line with the reality of a situation (with the end goal of being happier).
I found the book to be extremely valuable. And I still do too!
Here is one quote from the book in particular that sets up where Greenberger and Padesky are coming from:
Thoughts help define which mood we experience in a given situation. Once a mood is present, it is accompanied by additional thoughts that support and strengthen the mood. For example, angry people think about ways they have been hurt, depressed people think about how unfortunate life has become, and anxious people see danger everywhere. In fact, the stronger our moods, the more extreme our thinking is likely to be.
This does not mean that our thinking is wrong when we experience an intense mood. But when we feel intense moods, we are more likely to distort, discount, or disregard information that contradicts our moods and beliefs. Everyone thinks in these ways sometimes. However, it is helpful to learn to recognize when you are thinking in distorted ways because this understanding provides a first step toward more balanced thinking and mood states.
If that sounds like a good approach to you, here are seven more quotes that give a good taste for what the book contains, or where Greenberger and Padesky go, and how the book may be of as much use to you as it was to me:
Although our thoughts influence mood, behavior and physical reactions, positive thinking is not a solution to life’s problems. Most people who are anxious, depressed or angry can tell you that ‘just thinking positive thoughts’ is not that simple. In fact, if we do try to think only positive thoughts when we have a strong mood, we may miss important signals that something is wrong.
Learning to identify automatic thoughts . . . will help you understand why you feel the way you feel in different situations. The more you pay attention to your thoughts, the easier it is to identify several thoughts tied to a mood.
Evidence showing that our beliefs are not completely true can be hard to uncover when we are experiencing a strong mood. Yet, looking at the evidence both for and against our conclusions is the secret to reducing the intensity of the mood.
Positive thinking tends to ignore negative information and can be as damaging as negative thinking. Alternative or balanced thinking takes into account both negative and positive information. It is an attempt to understand the meaning of all the available information.
The more an alternative or balanced thought is believable to you, the more it will relieve the intensity of your negative feelings. If you simply provide a rationalization or a positive thought that you do not believe, it is not likely to have a lasting impact.
Be certain to notice and remember all the little things that suggest that your negative core belief is not 100% true. Noticing small positive experiences is particularly important to counteract an automatic tendency to remember the small negative experiences that support our core beliefs. By actively looking for small experiences that contradict our negative core belief, we ensure a better balance to our views.
Activities seem to particularly help depression if they involve pleasure or a chance to accomplish something (even something very small). Therefore, just learning to look for pleasure or accomplishment in the things you do may help you feel better.
Although some more than others, and each at different times, these quotes have resonated with me.
I hope you see some value in them too.
And if you end up getting Mind Over Mood, I hope the book as a whole proves its worth to you.
After all, though the world isn’t so terribly bad a place now, the happier people are in it, the less depressing it’ll be!