Can we change our moods?

by Christina on January 10, 2011

I recently completed the happiness study, collecting 50 samples via my iphone multiple times per day over the course of several weeks.

Here are some of my results:

My happiness and focus

My happiness and productivity

My happiness level positively correlates with my focus and productivity (that seems right!).

I’ve been thinking about this and realizing that it is a happy mood that makes me focused and productive more than the other way around (it’s really hard to be productive when in a bad mood). So what I really want to know is: how do we cultivate good moods?

For me, I think it has to do with a combination of getting enough sleep, eating healthily, interacting positively with people, exercising, doing yoga, feeling autonomous, learning something new, and the absence of physical pain.

This study found that listening to certain music and watching funny videos elevates people’s moods, which then increases creativity (which is related to focus and productivity). So maybe listening to Pandora or watching YouTube isn’t a distraction or waste of time… maybe they actually change our moods and help us use our time better!

What do you think — what changes your mood?

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

john January 11, 2011 at 11:09 am

very nicely presented…i am curious about that one outlier that is showing hi focus but low productivity and low happiness, was it a cloudy day? i start my day in meditation which is very focused but has a more equanimous, less manifested happiness, but still a kind of happiness, and the day always seems to flow from that still focusedness, for a while anyway, am still so learning…thank you!


Christina January 12, 2011 at 4:33 am

Hi John, thanks for your comment!

I’d love to be able to track back those outliers and figure out what was happening on those days. When might I have been very focused on something, but also feeling unhappy and unproductive? Yes, it could have been related to something like weather, or it could have been that I was in an argument or disagreement with someone (I think the latter is probably what it was!)

Good point about meditation bringing a stillness, focus, and equanimity… that is certainly an important aspect of happiness.


Kimberly Palmer January 12, 2011 at 3:19 am

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin is a fun book! You might like it.


Christina January 12, 2011 at 4:36 am

Great recommendation, Kim!

I like her 12 Personal Commandments (
1. Be Gretchen.
2. Let it go.
3. Act the way I want to feel.
4. Do it now.
5. Be polite and be fair.
6. Enjoy the process.
7. Spend out.
8. Identify the problem.
9. Lighten up.
10. Do what ought to be done.
11. No calculation.
12. There is only love.


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