What moods can show us

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Your emotions and moods.

A distraction? An interruption to your dispassionate, rational, critical faculties? Out of place in your work? In your family? Best ignored? Even better supressed?

No.

A mood is a place from which you relate to the world.

Moods are disclosive: they actively show the world to you, bringing forward some aspects so that they can be seen, and having others recede into the background.

And it’s important that you pay attention to them because there is no dispassionate, uninvolved place from which to relate to the world. There is no ‘mood-free’ way to be which would show you everything all in one go, at least in everyday life.

A mood of love: the object of your love (a person, an idea, a project) fills the world you experience. You find yourself turning towards it or them again and again in your thoughts and activities. For a while, the world revolves around whatever or whoever it is that you love, and you get to see that which is inspiring, thrilling, life-giving about them.

A mood of frustration: when there’s something that matters to you that you can’t get to happen. Once again, that something figures centrally in the world for as long as you’re frustrated. Everything seems to point towards this something that matters, to contribute to your sense of being thwarted.

A mood of fear: brings forward that which is or seems threatening to us or to that which we care about, and has everything else fade away, so that we can take focussed action.

A mood of boredom: has everything fade into the background. Nothing seems important enough, stirring enough, exciting enough to move you.

A mood of resentment: has the person or situation you’re resentful about become central, and reveals to you the myriad ways you might take revenge, get your own back, or otherwise cause hurt.

A mood of gratitude: shines a light on the unlikeliness of your presence in the world, how little you had to do to end up surrounded by people, objects, possessions, possibilities. Illuminates the extraordinariness of the everyday.

Rather than being errors in perception, your moods are always a way of attuning to aspects of the world that you might not otherwise pay attention to. You might say each mood functions to reveal the world in particular ways, showing you that which in a different mood would be hidden. And mostly this isn’t apparent, because for the most part moods are in the background, invisible. They’re like the air you breathe, omnipresent, necessary, and transparent.

So being able to tell what mood you’re in is a huge opening. It will show you what possibilities you might be missing, or how it is that there seem no possibilities at all. It will tell you much about what you really care about, because moods always arise from your cares, values and commitments. It will show you how what seems central right now, and what incidental, is only one way to look at things.

And as you learn to cultivate different moods from the ones you’re most used to – for example gratitude where there was resentment – you’ll have revealed to you much that you never really saw before. And you may also discover that the world and other people are never simply this way or that, and perhaps even open up the possibility that they’re something else completely from how you’re used to relating to them. This is a huge and necessary step if you want to bring yourself fully to the world and to open up rich new avenues for relationship, possibility, and action.