How to build your mood changing toolkit

Again welcome Peter McFadyen as a guest blogger here sharing how to build your own mood changing toolkit.

A year ago I decided as a part of my self-development journey that I wanted to be able to change my mood whenever I felt like it.  I was learning more about mindfulness and had been utilising the theory and practice of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy to improve my ability to live mindfully.  As a consequence of adopting this manner of thinking, I had learned to live more in each moment rather than catastrophising about possible futures or ruminating on improbable pasts.  My increasing ability to recognise and accept grief, anger, happiness and boredom and greet each of them as a casual visitor in my day was a powerful gift.  Taking that one step further, I began to think that it would be handy to be able to change my mood whenever, and in whatever, direction I desired. 

Does that sound like something useful?


Happy face Sad face
Turning the frown upside down

So how would I go about changing my mood?  The traditional way to get over a bad day was to go home and have a few glasses of “attitude adjuster” and let the day slowly wash away – as well as most of my enthusiasm and desire to achieve anything that night!  And besides, alcohol and mindfulness are not the best of buddies so I was looking for something with greater benefits and fewer headaches.  I wrote down a title and began to fill in the lines below:

What makes me happy? 

–          Singing

–          Dancing                                                      

–          Meditation

–          LOL cats

–          Saying hello to strangers

–          Trekking by myself

–          Writing poetry

–          Spending time with my granddaughters

–          Experiencing wonder

–          Cooking

–          Hugs

–          Laughter

–          Doing an energy clearing

–          Being silly

–          Doing twenty push-ups


pencil and happy word
Creating happy – one thought at a time

I then developed that list a little further to see which of the above actions I could put to use at different times and in different locations.  Suddenly I had a toolkit I could dip into quickly at work, when I first got home or in the morning to set up a great day.  I also had a powerful set of tools to utilise if my mood was particularly dark and I needed a solid effort of being in the moment, being happy and being grateful in order to salvage my day or my weekend. 

Having completed my toolkit, I then eagerly awaited a bad mood so that I could try them out!

Having come home later that week after a hectic day, I immediately booted up Youtube, danced, sang, looked at LOL cats and then, when I had altered my mood enough to be open to the possibilities of the afternoon, I went upstairs and had a chat and a laugh with my son.  Low and behold, 20 minutes after coming home in a bad mood I was happy, energetic and engaged.  What a wonderful feeling and what a vastly different night it became! 

On waking in the morning now I begin my morning with a dance in my study to my latest favourite video clip (I have hopes of being able to shuffle in public one day).  I then go about my normal morning routine fairly relaxed and happy.  On my drive in to work I set an intention as to how I want my day to go and what kind of energy I want to bring with me to help make everyone’s day a little better.  During the day if something threatens to drag my mood down I close my door, clear my space, read one of the poems I have on my wall, drop and do 20 push-ups or walk outside and find something to be amazed about or someone to say hello to.  Quickly enough I then get back into my day, refreshed, open and with more energy. 

It was such a simple task really.

Are you ready to action these three steps to build your own mood changing toolkit?

Here they are again for you:

  1. Listing down what made me happy
  2. Assessing which of these I could call on or action at different times of the day
  3. Putting my tools in to action!

So let me ask you – what makes you happy?

What will you put in your toolkit to help you get the most out of your day?

“Let your life be your message” Mahatma Gandhi


Why you need a Life Strategy – the same way you need a Business Strategy

Do you have a life strategy?

We all know that time spent on strategy is important. Getting our feet out of the mud and our heads in the clouds from time to time to have a look at our business and see if we’re heading in the right direction, if we’re on track with our goals, if our goals are still relevant.

Organisationally I’ve attended countless strategy meetings and even weekend long ‘hug ins’ all in the name of forward planning. Mostly these are with wonderful outcomes. The opportunity to move away from the business and have a look at it from the helicopter view that always helps us to see where we are, where the market is, where we want to be.

There’s many formats these strategy days can take, and the duration can change, but the main aspect is the deliberate action of getting up from our desk, away from the business of keeping the lights on, and taking stock.

Throughout my career I have seen the benefits and importance of taking time to focus on strategy. It’s bred in to us as leaders, organisations thrive when those in them know the main game, where they’re headed, how what they do today makes a dent in the desired future they are all seeking.

A few weeks ago though something occurred to me and when it did, I couldn’t believe I hadn’t come to this realisation sooner. What occurred to me was that while I was focused on strategy and strategic planning in my career and workplaces, I hadn’t really taken the time with my soul colleague (aka husband) to lift ourselves up out of the mud of our day to day routines, errands, and general activities, to look at our lives strategically. Where did we want to be, by when, where were we now, what has changed in the past few years that we need to consider?

It was an epiphany! Sure, we’d done the work on our finances and looked at the mortgage and reviewed the bills from time to time but, to really take some time to talk about and think about the other sides to our lives and our dreams and plans, in a way that was more than “wouldn’t it be great one day to travel the world, work overseas etc”. It was a whole new ball game.

So I broached the subject with my husband and although a little put off by the idea of the Life Strategy concept I’d just dreamed up for us, was willing to put aside a day to share in this new initiative and see what we could come up with.

It’s probably not for everyone, but I thought it was fantastic. Like in a workplace or your own business, you need to know where you are now and where you want to be in order to work out how to get there.
So it started over a coffee, on the deck with laptops and iPads at the ready. We’d both done some work in preparation, him around the finances, me around the agenda for the day (yes we had an agenda).

We spent the day dreaming and planning and looking at finances and really stepping back from the doing of our days and into the being of our future. What’s changed, what are our dreams, where are we financially? When can we finally pay off this bloody mortgage?

Of course, throughout the day we had our challenges – we didn’t agree on everything and that’s completely ok. Our dreams aren’t the same as they used to be. We’ve both grown and changed and have interests we didn’t have some years ago. I love trekking, he loves climbing big mountains, preferably in snow and ice. We both love travel and we both love where we live. We both want to live and work overseas sometime. I want to walk across entire countries by myself. He’s happy to climb mountains while I do that. Underneath all of this though we have some very common threads. Our values of family and love and freedom and well-being for starters. It’s these common threads that make the different dreams and goals possible.

I must confess here – I don’t look forward to the financials discussion. It’s always been a hard one for me to get my self around. I’m getting better though. Working on plans to reduce and the finally extinguish our mortgage SO we would live the dreams we’d articulated, enables me to be more invested in the financial discussion.

Like in a business, if the employee knows how their actions today lead to the desired and agreed future, that employee is more likely to be invested in the day to day activities that bring them closer to that outcome.

We both listened, and we both talked, and both agreed on what our future together could look like and how we might work together to get there. We understand the goals and what it will take to get there.

It a nice feeling to have our life strategy sorted – to have a clear direction and know what needs to be done to get there. It’s structured but flexible enough to change as we need to. We’ve committed to having a Life Strategy day in January every year to keep up the momentum.

You can have yourself a Life Strategy session whether you’re single, a couple or a family.

If you’re thinking of doing this yourself, here’s some tips I can offer:

* Set the date in advance – you will likely never get around to it otherwise. We set the date and made sure we had no commitments that day. We were going to go away somewhere originally but decided to stay at home where we had access to all of our files and instead shouted ourselves a lovely lunch out in the middle of the day

* Think about and prepare an agenda – It’s easy to get lost in the discussions if you don’t have a plan of what you want to cover in the day. What do you want to achieve ?

* Prepare before-hand – have the financials, your goals, your values, and anything else you think you might need (the quote for that holiday; home valuation etc) ready before the day to make sure you utilise your time effectively

* Treat yourself throughout the day – maybe a nice lunch out to break the day up a bit, or dinner out to celebrate taking the time to look after your life.

If a Life Strategy session interests you, don’t kid yourself that it will happen organically – at least not if you lead relatively busy lives. It won’t happen unless you make it happen. Set a date, do the preparation. Do it alone or do it with your partner. Just do it – they say a dream is a goal without a plan. Let’s make that plan. Let’s see where we are, where we want to be, how we might get there.

It’s time to show our personal lives the love and care we show our businesses. Let’s make time to develop our Life Strategy and see the difference we can make in our own lives. Out of the mud and in to the clouds – just for a little while. After all, if our life is our message, what do we want our message to be?

“Let your life be your message” Mahatma Gandhi