Mentalog

Positive mood and outlook

Understanding Mood and Outlook

How we deal with emotions and setbacks affects our overall wellbeing and outlook on life.

We’ve all met or observed people who never seem to get discouraged. No matter what horrible things happens to them, they keep pursuing their goals, seemingly unphased. While they may be having more difficulty behind the scenes than we realize, they may also have a natural resiliency that keeps them moving forward.

All of us have changes in mood from time to time. The time of day, feeling hungry or tired, or a disagreement with a friend can all influence how we feel. Our overall mood has to do with how we manage these small and big life events, and the related emotions that come alongside them. Our outlook on life is also tied into our emotions, and affects how we see the future, and how we feel about the world in general.

Together, these make up the mood and outlook subcategory of the Mental Health Million MHQ (Mental Health Quotient). While having emotions is normal and healthy, some people have an easier time regulating their feelings and behaviors than others. People with a healthy mood and outlook MHQ score, and are able to do the following:

  • Control their behaviors and responses even when feeling strong emotions and respond calmly to stressful situations.
  • Be optimistic and create positive meaning out of disappointments, or reframe discouragement more positively.
  • Bounce back after setbacks.

Those with a lower mood and outlook score may:

  • Experience regular fears, worry, anxiety, or panic.
  • Find it difficult to control their emotions and frequently feel overwhelmed by them.
  • Have frequent physical symptoms such as stomach issues, or having somatic issues like frequent illnesses with no apparent cause.
  • Blame themselves for things that aren’t their fault.

Influences on Mood and Outlook

Any number of things can impact our mood and outlook. Biological and genetic factors, our core personalities, relationships with family or peers, the environment we live in, life experiences, and current world events all come into play.

How we deal with emotions, and how we view the world, influences every other area of our lives. If you feel constantly discouraged, you are less likely to pursue or even have life goals. If you have frequent difficulty managing emotions, you might damage relationships or have trouble maintaining responsibilities. Feeling constantly stressed can also make you more vulnerable to physical health conditions.

Alternatively, having the ability to weather the ups and downs of life reflects resilience. Even when there are disappointments, those with higher resilience can get back up, try again, and set new goals. Even devastating events can eventually lead to new life passions, gratitude, and feeling life is more meaningful.

Can I Change My Score?

Fortunately, mood and outlook is an area that we can work on changing. If you have a high score and want to keep it there, continue self-care activities. Maintain your social support, even if it has to be done at a distance, and take care of other areas of wellbeing.

To maintain or boost a moderate mood and outlook score, consider trying new activities, or reviving old interests and hobbies that give you joy and satisfaction. Change your physical setting if possible (even if that’s just through taking a walk once a day) and learn about positive thinking and mindfulness tools. Counseling may help with identifying any negative thinking patterns and challenging negative beliefs about yourself. Also improve or maintain physical self-care through healthy eating and exercise, ideally out in nature if possible, which can boost your mood and outlook. And importantly, get enough sleep.

Negative scores in this category can reflect past trauma, major depression issues, or even underlying neurological conditions and may impact your social self and drive and motivation.

It can also mean you are experiencing violent or suicidal thoughts or behaviors. If you have thoughts of suicide, self-harm or violence, you should seek help right away. Contact your local doctor, a psychiatrist or therapist, and visit the Suicide Prevention Lifeline for support.

See related post: A negative MHQ is a signal to seek medical help.

Mood and outlook is one of the most important factors that influences our life, both in the short and long-term, giving us joy and happiness and equipping us with resilience in the face of adversity. Making it a priority, through maintaining or improving it, is an important step in having a positive, enjoyable life.