The Origin of Everyday Moods Book Summary - The Origin of Everyday Moods Book explained in key points
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The Origin of Everyday Moods summary

Robert E. Thayer

Managing Energy, Tension, and Stress

4.4 (130 ratings)
29 mins
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    The Origin of Everyday Moods
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    Different levels of energy and tension combine to form moods.

    Think about the last time you were in a fantastic mood. How would you describe your bodily sensations and emotions during that period? 

    Perhaps you felt full of energy, alert, and boundless. You were relaxed, with no feelings of tension or anxiety. If you’re extroverted, you may have described yourself as energetic, peppy, and vigorous. Or, if you’re more introverted, you may have used words like confident, sociable, and happy. Your heart rate was probably relatively quick, your respiration elevated, and your metabolism high. 

    The average person might call this a “good mood.” But the author would instead call it calm-energy. Like all moods, it reflects your body’s physiological functioning as well as your psychological experience. This state is characterized by high energy and low tension, which means your body has plenty of resources and can use them efficiently, while mentally, you feel focused and at ease. 

    The key message here is: Different levels of energy and tension combine to form moods.

    In 1985, psychologists David Watson and Auke Tellegen studied hundreds of moods. In the process, they discovered a surprising fact: that most moods are just variations on two dimensions. They called these positive affect and negative affect.

    The author argues for a slightly different framework. Instead, he considers energy and tension to be the central factors and has defined four different human moods. Each one is differentiated by varying combinations of energy and tension.

    We’ve already discussed the most positive mood, calm-energy. Another fairly enjoyable mood is calm-tiredness. In this state, your cardiovascular system is operating at low levels. You’ve got lower energy stores, and you might describe yourself as tired, sleepy, or drowsy. Nonetheless, there’s low tension, so you feel relaxed –⁠ perhaps you’re listening to music, reading a book, or engaged in a hobby.

    Then, there’s the slightly less positive mood called tense-energy, which you might feel when working to meet a tight deadline. Your cardiovascular system, respiration, and metabolism are again at elevated levels. But unlike in calm-energy, your jaw, shoulders, and neck probably feel tense. You might describe yourself as jittery or anxious.

    The final mood is one that almost everyone would describe as bad. It’s called tense-tiredness. This mood occurs when your body’s energy stores are very low. You’re fatigued, but instead of feeling relaxed, you’re tense. You’re also more prone to negative thoughts about yourself and your problems.

    Which of these moods are you feeling right now? Depending on what time of day it is, you may have a different answer, which we’ll explore in the next blink. 

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    What is The Origin of Everyday Moods about?

    The Origin of Everyday Moods (1996) explores the complex relationships between the biological and psychological factors that create and influence human moods. It also challenges common misconceptions, like the myth that moods are caused by thoughts. With a greater understanding of mood science, we can better manage and control our everyday moods.

    Best quote from The Origin of Everyday Moods

    Mood is something like a clinical thermometer, reflecting all the internal and external events that affect us.

    —Robert E. Thayer
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    Who should read The Origin of Everyday Moods?

    • Fans of psychology and personality studies
    • Those who just can’t seem to break out of a bad mood
    • Anyone curious about the different factors that influence our moods

    About the Author

    Robert E. Thayer was an American psychologist whose research focused on the study of human moods. He was a professor of psychology at California State University for 51 years and authored several books, including The Biopsychology of Mood and Arousal and Calm Energy.

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