Self-awareness is a worthwhile quality to develop: your happiness may depend upon it. Image courtesy of Ambro at freedigitalphotos.net
Sometimes I’m completely puzzled by what triggers my mood to change throughout the course of any one day. I could be feeling inspired and positive one minute: then some trigger that is barely perceptible to my conscious mind, pushes me “off my perch”, leaving me feeling flat.
I therefore felt inspired to start a “Mood Log”. My Mood Log consists of four columns: Column 1 contains the date, so I can see if there are any patterns over time.
Column 2 contains a “Mood Rating” – how I would judge my mood to be between 0 (Severely Depressed) to 10 (Over the Moon).
The purpose of Columns 3 and 4 are to log thoughts and actions that elevate or depress my mood.
The reason I am doing this is to become increasingly self-aware. This is not just for the sake of self-awareness, per se, but knowing what makes me tick and vice versa will, I hope, act as a compass or a guide for what activities I choose to engage in.
It also acts as a useful tool to know which thoughts to purposefully choose. Over time, thoughts will go further toward being a choice due to you awareness of how they will affect you rather than passively occur.
This is important because it is not just the behaviours we engage in that may influence our mental outlook, but our thoughts about it. For example, going to the movies may cheer you, but if you think "I should not be spending money on this - I feel guilty", the uplifting effect of an activity you are aware you enjoy may be negated.
Therefore, if you notice that you are doing something that usually elicits positive and happy emotions, fails to do so or causes you to feel negative, you may want to examine your thoughts about what you are doing.
Over time, I am expecting I will see patterns emerge. For example, seeing my cat, petting her and pondering how much I love her and she loves me is very meaningful for me. However, sometimes, so unaware am I regarding what makes me happy, I have sometimes not fully given myself time to be aware of the fact that “Seeing Suzie (my cat) always makes me feel happy.
I consistently find my mood drops whenever I do housework. However, this gives me power to realise this is a trigger, and be prepared to deal with that. To be specific, music always elevates my mood (certain kinds of music). Therefore if I wish to decrease the depressing feelings associated with house work, I can play music to mitigate this effect.
Some of us have a greater self-awareness naturally. However, I believe it is a faculty that can be refined and improved upon by slowing down and using conscious awareness.
We need to slow down, at least at first (until you can associate actions/thoughts with moods automatically), to be aware of our triggers. If we are doing several things at once, or very quickly, we may not achieve an accurate idea of what thought or action caused which mood.
You also have to therefore be prepared to put in the time and have the dedication to log your mood. You may choose to do this visually like myself, or you may find making a mental note: with noticing your thoughts in a purposeful manner. For example “I’m doing the dishes – feeling down”; “I went for a jog; I felt better”. ."
It benefits you by allowing you to choose those activities you know inspire you or make you feel happy or positive.
It is not necessarily a good idea to stay away from what you have repeatedly notice lowers your mood. For example, the dishes do need to be done! However, you may notice you feel positive when you see things look clean and tidy.
So using the artillery of known triggers for positivity, you can say to yourself “I know I will feel better after I have finished because I have noticed this consistently”.
Being self-aware can also tell us a lot about which relationships are positive ones for us to be involved in. If you notice you consistently feel better after an interaction with a certain person, you can feel quite sure that you would pick that person to be in your close circle of friends over someone who seems to leave you feeling quite flat.
Self-awareness then can be, once it has been practiced and refined, a fairly accurate “compass” that may be utilised for self-direction as an aid to improve your quality of life.