My mood dictates my reality.


My reality does not dictate my mood. How do I change my reality? By becoming aware of my mood and practicing gratitude.

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Long ago, when working as a teller for Wells Fargo Bank, I learned a valuable life lesson — my mood dictates my reality.

Sometimes it seemed as if every customer who came to my window was an asshole. They were rude and idiots and I couldn’t stand them. Other times, however, everyone was sweet and kind and easy — angels.

I used to think, “Wow, how come everyone sucks today?” or, “Wow, everyone is so nice today.” Eventually I became aware of the fact that my experience had very little to do with how “everyone” else was and everything to do with how I was. Reality is, most of the time we are surrounded by idiots and angels. And at any time we each can show up as idiots or angels. The difference is made by what lens of reality we are looking through.

When I say lens of reality what I really mean is what mood we are in. When I say mood what I mean is internal state, our internal filter of the world at that moment. When I am in a good mood, I see the good in the world. I am appreciating the things around me. I am feeling cheery and like things are great. When I am in a bad mood, I feel grouchy and see things as crap. My mind is negative and filtering the world as shitty, annoying, hard, and uncaring. Things I can usually handle become hurtles and people who I can usually tolerate become the worst.

My mood dictates my reality. My mood dictates how my brain reads situations. Usually, nothing is actually different in the external environment, it is only my internal environment that has changed, which is causing me to see the world a certain way.

This mood — reality cycle creates a feedback loop. My positive mood influences me to see a positive reality, which then sends information back to my brain and contributes to my positive mood. The inverse is also true. My negative mood influences me to see a negative reality, information about that negative reality is then sent back to my brain and reinforces my negative mood.

Mood-reality feedback loop.

So how can I break the negative mood loop? By influencing my view of reality. By becoming aware of my mood and practicing gratitude, which is the practice of noticing what is good in your environment, I can influence my mood and thus my reality overall.

How gratitude can interrupt the feedback loop.

Gratitude is something that a lot of people talk about, especially around Thanksgiving, but is something that can change your life every day. Simply put, gratitude is manually noticing the good things in your environment, just like you naturally do when you are in a good mood. It is a way of interrupting the negative feedback loop and reflecting on all the things that are going right and that are good. Gratitude is awesome because not only does it dictate your mood and reality, but also you don’t have to do anything to have it. It isn’t about getting thinner or smarter or richer. It is about what you already have, without lifting a finger.

It is being aware enough to recognize the good that already exists around you and naming it. Clean water, safety, soft shirt, computer, phone, health, pretty flower, good smell, coffee, a loved one, new friends, birds chirping, light... the list goes on. By practicing gratitude we hijack our brains feedback loop and redirect it into a positive view of reality and thus a positive mood.

The more often we do this, the more we are training our mind to see the positives of reality and thus be in a good mood. Good mood doesn’t mean that bad things aren’t happening to us or that life doesn’t sometimes suck. It just means that when it sucks, we are better able to handle it.

When we are in a good mood, we are friendlier, which brings us friends and social support. We are more stable which brings us better mental health. Our bodies aren’t in flight or fight mode which brings us better physical health. We are more attractive to others which brings us romantic interests. We are more centered which brings us better decision making. We are more positive which brings us better days.

Try it sometime. Your mood dictates your reality. Your reality does not dictate your mood. If you want to change your reality, practice gratitude…especially when everything sucks and people are idiots.