We live in an emoji world. We choose emojis in our social communication to say how we feel. But then it stops there. If those emotions are destructive to our lives, how do we change those feelings to an emotion that better serves us? It starts with awareness.
Mood Meter App
We started our Yoga & Mindfulness program recently at this most wonderful charter school in Dallas called, Uplift Luna Prep Secondary. They know that success isn't just about grades. They make a concerted effort to expose their "scholars" (that's what they call their students) to life skills, like our Live Free Yoga and Mindfulness for Teens program, so they can be armed with tools to make choices that benefit them in a positive way.
They introduced me to this really cool app called, "Mood Meter," that in a very simple way helps the user identify the exact words to describe their mood, why they feel that way and then asks them if they want to make a shift towards a different mood. If they do, the app offers a quote and a suggestion on how they can make that shift. Notice they use the word, "shift," as oppose to "change." That's because significant change happens by making small, measured shifts.
Sounds simple right? Makes you wonder why we need the app to give us the correct word to describe our feelings and advice on changing it. The reason is because most of us only feel an emotion. We don't put words to it. But when we name it, we can tame it, if it needs taming.
I have personal experience with this. Lately I have felt extremely fragile. I tend to weep at the littlest thing. I seem to overreact when something doesn't go right, like my Grandpuppy (left picture) using our home as her own personal toilet while we babysit. Ugh! It's not pleasant, but crying, anger and resentment - a bit much wouldn't you say?
(Alright, I know. How could I get mad at such a cute face!)
I have the Mood Meter app on my phone. So I opened it up and started searching for words that described how I felt. I'll continue with my discovery later. First let's have look at the app.
In the screen shots below you'll see the meter is broken down into 4 quadrants. For the sake of consistency, I clicked on the middle most dot in each quadrant, so you can see the words that appear for those dots in each quadrant. (Look below the dots)
The top top left (red) and bottom left (blue) quadrants represent more negative, unpleasant feelings. The 2 right quadrants (yellow and green) represent more pleasant, positive feelings.
What struck me most about this is not the word that it highlighted by each dot, but the words around it. So, for example, the word "angry" in the red quadrant it is surrounded by the words "furious," "frustrated," "tense," "frightened," "worried," and so on.
Likewise, when we look at the yellow quadrant where the word "enthusiastic" is highlighted, observe the words around that - "motivated," "focused," "proud," "optimistic" and so on.
The What and Why of Your Moods
The important thing to note here is that when we identify a word that most fits our current mood, there are multiple feelings that go along with that. Why is that important? Because once we can identify the variety of feelings we have, we have a better chance of understanding our feelings so we can make the choice towards change, or stay as we are.
One other thing I love about this app is that once you confirm the feeling you have, the next step is to explain why you feel that way. That takes us deeper into understanding the why behind our feelings, so we can choose a different path if we so desire. We can't move forward unless we know what and why we are moving from it.
The Many Facets of Being Sad
Ok, back to me. So I said earlier that tears flow pretty easily with me lately. When the littlest thing that doesn't go right, I get irritated and bam! Tears are shed. So I looked up the word that seemed closest to how I was feeling and the word, "sad" came up for me. Tears generally = sad, right? Well, that makes sense since my dad passed away in November.
In the screen shot to the left, notice the words around the word, "sad" - "down," "disappointed, "discouraged" "disheartened," "tired," apathetic.
I have experienced every one of those feelings at one point or another, but never realizing it might have been because I was actually just sad. Sadness is at the root of those other feelings.
Making the Shift
As a matter of survival, our brain seeks balance and harmony. Once I realized the root of my emotions, I was able to plan what I wanted to do next to find balance and harmony for myself.
So, on one of the days I felt any of those emotions listed, I simply sat in my personal Yoga room at home and cried. I let the emotions flow, instead of trying to control it. I felt better once I released it and let it go.
Today I decided to sweep the floor that was covered in about 2 inches of dog hair and leaves. I kept looking at the floor in disgust, but too apathetic (notice that is one of the words) to sweep it up. Once I did, I felt joy and relief because I could be proud of my home again. My space. My castle.
Mindfulness of Emotions
Mindfulness is not about pushing our thoughts or feelings aside. It's about recognizing them, embracing them and being present with those feelings and thoughts. It's knowing that we know. Think of it as if you are stepping outside of your body to have a birds-eye view of yourself. You see all that you are, without judgement. Then you have the power to choose whatever you need to do to find balance and harmony for yourself and in your life.
Side note: You don't need to get the Mood Meter app. You can go to images.google.com, search for "mood meter" and there are a bunch of images that come up that actually have the same layout with the words written in it. For easy access, print it out and put it on your wall, fridge, wallet or even your purse for easy access.
Phyllis Smith is Co-Founder and CEO of Live Free Yoga.
Her company specializes in mindfulness programs for adolescents and teens and those who serve them.
If you would like to learn more about Live Free Yoga programs, email Phyllis at Phyllis@LiveFreeYoga.com or call 214-497-7982.