mood

The Solitaire Experiment

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I enjoy playing Solitaire. Okay, sometimes, I don’t really enjoy it, but I play anyway, usually to kill a little time. [We're all killing something.]

This morning, I was in a bit of a foul mood, after reading something in the newspaper. It doesn’t really matter what created the mood, but let’s just say I was cursing in four-letter-words under my breath, over and over, incredulous and ticked off at the same time. I was even adding in religious curse words — that’s the kind of mood I was in.

So, to use up a little time, I started up a game of Solitaire. Only, this time, I decided to do an experiment.

The Experiment

In the past, I have noticed that my overall mood seems to affect the way my game of Solitaire goes. If I am in a crappy mood, I don’t seem to get any of the cards I need and it never takes very long before I’m stuck with no moves. If I am happy and looking forward to the future, it usually goes pretty well and I am able to win. So, with me cursing-in-my-head, I started a game. (To help you count ‘em, I’ll tag them like this: [1].) I’d never played in that state before, so I was curious about what would happen.

It went terribly, to say the least. I was only able to make 1 move from the starting cards, and I didn’t get a single ace in the face-down cards. In about 6 moves, I was stumped, although I kept cursing away and going through the dealt cards, hoping there was a move I hadn’t noticed.

So, I decided to do take-two of the experiment. I actually had to laugh at myself, cursing and clicking and cursing some more! So, my mood had lifted and I felt more-or-less “pleasant.” [2] I focused on this idea — being pleasant, having a pleasant day — for a moment before starting a new game, and kept that word and general mood humming along as I played. The game went quite a bit better. I had about 7 starting moves from the cards dealt, and by the time I had gone through all the face-down cards once, I had made several more moves and had all 4 aces up. But I wasn’t able to win. I made quite a few moves, but in a typical way, I got stumped later on.

I wondered why I didn’t win when I was “pleasant?” I decided that the underlying mood was more of boredom than happiness. So, I decided to try the “boredom” vibe [3] for round three and see how it compared.

It was very similar; I made a few moves off the start and had 3 aces before the face-down cards were done. I made quite a few more moves, got a couple of chains started, but I just wasn’t getting the cards I needed. I was so bored!

A little bit of time passed — I started writing up this article — and I started round four. I mustered up the most positive, eagerly-anticipating-all-the-awesome-things-to-come feeling, [4] sat with it a moment (the same amount of time as I had for round 2 and 3 preparation), and started up. I had one ace in the first lay-up, which is always a nice bonus, and about 3 initial moves. After that, for the first 10 face-down cards, I was able to play each and every one. I tried to keep the positive vibes going. It was going quite well! But, for some reason, I still wasn’t able to win the game.

What was going on? Why couldn’t I win with those amazing vibes I had going on? Maybe they weren’t real? Maybe I was fooling myself? Maybe it was just too far to go from cursing up a blue streak to pure positivity in less than half an hour, or from boredom to chipper in ten minutes.

I took a break, and did something I enjoy (knitting), and let my mind relax. I realized I was actually kind of tired and a little hungry, and my overall state could be described as tired-but-okay. [5] So, another round.

It went moderately. Not nearly as smoothly as my positive round; it was very similar to “pleasant.” By the time I was stumped, I only had one ace up, 4 small chains underway, but I was just not getting the cards I needed. My mind had wandered to family illnesses and conversations from yesterday. I was pensive, not positive, and my Solitaire game showed it well.

Was I playing badly? Not particularly. Was I making mistakes? No. The cards just weren’t coming up right. Something that by all accounts should be random wasn’t — the cards were worse when my mood was poor. I decided to try one last round, with the best attitude I could muster without faking.

I gave myself another break. I really spent some time appreciating the day — the sun, the clouds. I had some chocolate, sat in a sunny window, and did a few light exercises to get my blood flowing — all the things that I know help my mood improve. I was feeling pretty good when a friend called. He always makes me laugh and we have such great banter, I decided to play a game with that light-hearted, appreciative feeling going on. [6] While we were chatting, laughing and teasing each other, I started up a new game. Can you guess what happened?

I won. It wasn’t the absolute best game I ever played, but I had all four aces by the end of the first run through the deck, and a few good chains on the go. Almost every card I flipped over was playable. I had to do a little fiddling to get to the last few cards — if you play Solitaire, you know what I mean — but it wasn’t hard. It was play!

The Results

My Solitaire experiment showed that my mood has everything to do with the “random” way the cards are dealt, and I am far more likely to win when I am upbeat and positive. I can even use Solitaire to gauge my mood — a “mood-o-meter”of sorts — as the progression of the game is directly related to how I am feeling. When I am bored or bummed-out, I won’t get far. When I make efforts to feel better, the game goes better. And lest you think I am a totally crappy scientist, drawing conclusions from only 6 samples, let me say that I have actually noticed this trend over hundreds of games over the last year or so. When I feel better, the cards come up better and I play better.

Can you see the profound wisdom that comes out of this experiment?

  • Things that you think are random are not.
  • You affect everything in your surroundings and your life.
  • Your mood indicates where you’re at and what kind of things you can expect to come your way, from random things to proactive things.
  • You can change your mood and therefore change your life at any time.
  • Your mood is not a result of what happens to you; it causes what happens to you.
  • In scientific terms, your mood is an independent variable. You pick how you want to feel.
  • A playful attitude is crucial to being successful and happy!

This is the Law of Attraction at work, yet again! How you feel, or in metaphysical terms “vibrate,” is the direct cause of things that happen in your life. The Universe brings you what you ask for, whether you are asking in words or, more importantly, in vibration. You can’t fool the Universe, as was evident when I tried to muster up “pleasant” but was really stuck near “bored.” The game went accordingly. You have to play your way to a truly better mood to see the results!

I can’t help but recommend my good friend Darlene Navarre’s book Play is the New Way (which I edited). Go buy a copy and see how it changes your life!

Want to read more? Try these related posts!
Getting Out of a Funk
Create Your Own Universe
May the Force be With You

Cheering Up

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I was going to write this blog on Monday, but then the events of Tuesday (the bird day) needed blogging first, so this one waited ’til now.

I was in a seriously crappy mood on Monday. I don’t know what got into me. It wasn’t the common Monday-blues — since I work for myself now, I don’t get bummed out on Mondays. Come to think of it, I was a shift-worker before, so Mondays didn’t mean anything to me then either! Anyhow, this was a seriously nose-out-of-joint, stay-clear-if-you-want-to-keep-all-your-body-parts kind of mood. I don’t get these very often, maybe 3 times a year, which means I only have, um, one more occasion this year. Poor Darren!

I don’t just say “poor Darren” to be funny, I really mean it. I was pretty close to the edge that day, and he had to endure it. Not fun. I think I will be making up for it for a while — not because he makes me feel like I have to, just because I want to. I generally treat him really well, but man, it was ugly on Monday.

I eventually told him the main thing that was weighing on my mind, only after saying “I need to say something. I don’t want to hear any come-back, reply, comment, or anything. In fact, it would be best if you just listened to it — let me say it all — and then you were quiet for an hour or so. Not a peep. Think about what you want to say back, if anything, and in an hour or so, we can talk. Can you do that?” Crazy, eh? I had a medium-serious thing to say (I won’t reveal it here, sorry), but on a normal day, I would have just sat down on the couch next to him and said it. And I wasn’t trying to add drama, I just wanted to tell him without getting into a huge discussion. Is that so wrong? I don’t think so, but I sure could have been nicer.

So about half way into Darren’s Hour of Silence, I realized it was self-pity that I was all gummed up with. Like the stickiest of mud, it had me completely mired. I didn’t recognize it at first, perhaps because I get it so rarely, or because it was so strong. It felt more like anger/depression. I am actually glad, now, that I experienced it, because I need to know what it feels like and how strong its pull is, in order to help others better. I think I can have more compassion for someone who struggles with this.

Luckily, a very good friend of mine called and reminded me that we were doing training that night, and I needed to prepare for it. I found the material and read it over, highlighted the most important parts, and started to feel much better. Want to guess what the subject was? Sudden Death. We were training our Victim Support Unit volunteers on how to help people dealing with a sudden death (I’ve been a VSU volunteer for a while, and now I help with training). Later, at the end of the training session, we did a “round table” to talk about how we feel, if any of the areas were difficult for us, or if any parts really struck home. I shared how I had been in such a terrible mood earlier, but now I felt much better. I meant that it was good to be with friends, discussing serious things and helping people. But everybody teased me “sudden death just cheered you right up, did it?” Ha ha! Well, it did. I was able to remember that I have it so good. No one I love has died suddenly a long time. I have nothing to complain about.

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P.P. (Post Post): If you have experienced a sudden loss of someone you love, and you need help, please call your nearest Victim Support Unit or find out if your city has a support group for people like you. You don’t have to go through this pain and grief alone. Let someone help you, and listen to you... You are loved.

P.P.P.: I am starting a “Personal Growth Coaching” (similar to life coaching) service soon, so if you’d like to talk to me, please email me (teresa {at} madphilosopher.ca) and I’ll be in touch to set up a free session with you.

How not to be a Bitch

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Ok, I admit… I’ve been a bit of a hag lately. A bitch even, at times. Just for a few minutes, usually. Maybe longer. (Don’t ask Darren.) And I feel so bad when I am bitchy, I try to stop as quickly as I can, and then later, I wonder why it is I acted so hag-ishly, so that I can prevent it. I mean, my sweetheart doesn’t deserve bad treatment (no one does), so I’ve got to get a handle on why it happens and stop it!

So… what makes a woman into a hag? Is it purely chemical, from hormones? No, I don’t think so, although they can be a factor. I get pretty snippy when I’m hungry, so I usually try not to let myself get past “peckish.” But what about other times, when I’m not hungry? I’m sure there are some attitudes or thoughts that contribute to it. I’ve been thinking about this for a while, and have some observations to share, not just about myself, but about others too (who shall all remain nameless)!angry-face

It sometimes begins when a woman starts to think and feel that she has to be the “responsible one” in the relationship. This could be because the man’s boyish qualities are well-developed — he likes his toys, wants to play with them, shirks any chores, avoids responsibility, doesn’t work around the house or whatever. A woman with this sort of partner subconsciously sees him as a child and then thinks she has to be the adult, enough for both of them. This makes her angry, because she feels she is pulling the load and may even start to “discipline” the man because of the child-view she has of him (and that he may have even worked hard to create).

In addition to this, a woman may just suddenly start to (or perhaps all along) see herself as better than her mate. If this happens, look out! Put-downs (subtle and not-so-subtle) abound… bad-talking her man in front of others… very nasty behaviour!

If the relationship is lop-sided in the guilty department, hagishness evolves almost automatically. What I mean is — some people naturally blame themselves for things that go wrong, and some people are inclined to blame others. If the man is the first and the woman the second… it’s a bad scene. She’ll blame him and he’ll readily accept it, even when the fault is at least half hers. The opposite is also true, and can be a precursor to domestic abuse. If only everyone would take responsibility for their part, and stop fretting over what everyone else is doing or not doing!?!

Another thing that happens a lot is a woman punishing a man for something a different man did. Or if something bad happened in her past and she hasn’t dealt with it, she is likely to have pent-up anger that gets unleashed on the nearest and dearest one to her… or at least the nearest. There’s a lot of domestic violence of women towards men, but the men have a harder time coming forward, or they simply put up with it. Not good. But it doesn’t have to be this way!

So, what can we do to prevent ourselves from becoming this way? Remember that we’re all adults, and spouses are supposed to be partners, or team players, working together. Don’t take responsibility or blame for the other person’s problems, and equally, don’t put yours on him/her. Deal with your own stuff — be selfish about this — and focus on what you are doing and thinking about what is happening. Deal with crap from your past, and live in the present — don’t drag shtuff from the past into the now.

I have found it helpful to remember that my sweetheart’s boyish traits, while sometimes annoying, are also what I love about him… and I wouldn’t want him to be without any boyishness, because then he’d be a grumpy old man. So I try to appreciate him and love him just as he is, quirks and all, because God knows, I’ve got quirks, and maybe some of them annoy him too (but he’s quite nice about not mentioning them, usually). :) And even if he did bug me about them, that’s his doing and I don’t have to do it back to him. Resisting revenge… not easy, but great if you can do it. And I basically try to have compassion, and see things from his point of view a little. And then I remember that if he died, how much I would miss him! Who cares care about his quirks!!

Also, it occurred to me after one “bitchy moment,” that I hadn’t been taking my Evening Primrose Oil (EPO). I’ve been taking two a day for a while now, to reduce PMS, and WHOA, I think it’s working! Let’s just say when I didn‘t take it, I noticed a difference (or Darren did). So, I can no longer blame a bad mood on hormones*, when I have (what is for me) the cure and just need to remember to take it! And I’m pretty sure I have a little hypoglycemia, which causes mood swings in almost everyone in the western world! So I take care of myself accordingly. I also think much clearer and handle stress much better when I have enough vitamin B (the whole complex of B’s actually). So I need to take that, too, or eat foods with B’s in them (Earl Mindell’s Vitamin Bible tells you what foods are rich in B’s). Could the cure for bitchiness be in a pill, or a food? What if it was? Would it become $3 a pill on the black market, with husbands buying it to sneak into their wife’s food? Or vice versa — men can be bitchy too, make no mistake!

I guess it kind of comes back to being mature… taking care of yourself… not picking on small stuff… and stewing in gratitude instead of just stewing! :D

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*I was actually never into doing that… I always tried to be very emotionally steady so that none of my male co-workers could tell when my period was and tease me or make jokes about PMS or whatever. I think I was pretty good at it! Lately, I need the EPO to help… :)

Snow, Waves, and the Collective Consciousness

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I went cross-country skiing today, for the first time this winter! It’s just been so cold, and combined with my crazy schedule and whatnot, this is the first chance I’ve had to go. It was great! It was so mild out, only about -5, and the trail was nice and all the trees draped in snow looked beautiful. I am so amazed at how snow, which is made of frozen water, can look so much like a liquid! On the edges of roofs, it flows off and hangs like a frozen wave… on the trees, it clumps in such interesting shapes, it looks like the snow is splashing! It’s hard to describe! I am going to have to take my camera next time, and get some photos of the snow on the trees, the trees bent over under the weight of the snow, and the snow clinging to branches of poplar and evergreens alike.

There’s this paradox of nature that thing that are essentially particles–independent like snow flakes–can take on the appearance and even characteristics of waves, behaving like a liquid. It reminds me of physics, where I learned that elementary particles like electrons behave like waves much of the time, and so they are said to have wave-particle duality–indeed, a dual nature. So, as I skied along the trail, I got to thinking about other things that seem to be separate, but are also connected, or fluid. Like people.

I am my own person. I am responsible for my own actions, and no one else’s. I am responsible for my own thoughts, and what those thoughts create, either by way of my mood, attitude, opinions, as well as more concrete things in my life, like what job I have or where I live. In these ways, I am separate from those around me. Yet, with close friends and loved ones, I am in harmony, not separate. I have so much in common with them and although I don’t have any psychic abilities, we seem to read each others’ minds. On a much larger scale, I’ve read about the collective mind or consciousness–where a large group of people share attitudes and are somehow linked. For example, in the tropical paradise of Hawai’i, everyone is miserable! They have collectively decided to ignore their idyllic surroundings and instead focus on things which add to their unhappiness. The mood was quite palpable, and like I said, I’m not psychic, just observant (when I want to be).

When I first read about the collective consciousness, I found it hard to believe. I’m a scientist, after all, and this phenomenon can’t be measured, at least not measured and displayed on an oscilloscope. :) But, yet, when you look at the US, and the aftermath of 9/11, it’s pretty plain to see that the entire country has adopted a fear-based thought pattern, mixed with revenge, and it’s also pretty clear to see the result. Anxiety, pain, paranoia, violence, disease, and more things to be afraid of! Now, I think the collective consciousness is amplified by the mass media, and that abstaining from any media, as I do from time to time, really helps cushion one from the effects. But, I have lived in a few places in Canada (and wasn’t much of a TV watcher then either), and I have noticed a different “feel in the air” in each place I go.

So what we, as particle-like people, think and do affects absolutely everyone around us. It’s practical; if some people litter, soon everyone’s doing it. It’s mystical; the consciousness of a population practicing Christianity is different from that of Eastern religions. It’s amazing; we aren’t very different from lemmings at all!

Take care everybody!