“I’m actually in a good mood today”

I always get a little sad when I hear a student say this, not only because it reveals he’s frequently not in a good mood, but because he believes his mood is a product of chance, that he has no control over it.

Indeed bad things happen that produce moods we can’t control, and I’m not suggesting folks with clinical depression just need more willpower to brighten their spirits–that’s silly thinking. I am suggesting that there are some basic things we can do to increase the chances that we’re going to be in a good mood, regardless of our circumstances.

First, sleep. Sleep 7 hours, 8 hours, 9 hours, whatever you find makes you feel the best. I have found no better remedy for anything that ails me.

Second, go outside and exercise. I like walking to work, under the sun, rather than driving my car, listening to news that’s going to make my blood boil. It’s free medicine.

Third, be organized. Get your stuff done. As much as I love my job there are still things that require a force of will for me to do. Once they’re done I feel better.

Fourth, take your medicine. See you therapist. Do the things your doctor tells you to do, that your parents and friends agree with. If all those people are saying you should do a thing they’re probably right.

Fifth, don’t eat sugar. Refined sugar is the one thing nutritionists universally agree is toxic to humans*.

Sixth, do something purposeful. The first time I really enjoyed school was my senior year of college when I got to start working with athletic teams. If I had to do it again I would have started volunteering as a freshman.

You can probably find plenty of your own routines too. Tim Ferris wrote an entire book on them.

[I suppose if you’re an endurance athlete, burning a lot of calories, you can get away with going to the ice cream bar.]