When I was entering my teen years, my Dad habitually woke my brother and I with his rendition of the bugle song: "Oh how I hate to get up in the morning! Oh, how I'd rather remain in bed…" At some point in those teen years I remember thinking what a stupid song that was to start the day with. I didn't want to begin the day hating the fact that I was awake. So I began a habit of singing my own tune in my mind. The first was:
My, oh my, what a wonderful day
Plenty of sunshine headin' my way
(It's impossible to sing that song without smiling-- I dare you to try.) Later, when my obsession with the Beatles began, this was my wake-up song:
I also ended each day by listing in my mind all the people who I was most grateful for. Granted, the list was recited by rote memory, but nevertheless, it worked. I always fell asleep with a sense of belonging and peace because I felt fortunate to have people to love.
Sometime as I was entering adulthood, getting married, and finishing my education, I stopped. I no longer set the mood. In the early years of my career I tried to affect a similar start to the morning. As I believe happens with most professions, the first year or so was particularly challenging because my clinical skills were still developing. So starting the day on a positive note was essential. I remember creating a positive mood with little details. Perhaps I had a new pair of socks to wear, or a favorite cereal that I hadn't bought in some time. Sometimes I would treat myself to a cup of tea (which I didn't usually leave time for). Or I would look forward to something planned later in the day. Then, as my career became second nature, those efforts fell away.
Now as I reflect on my past, I marvel at how wise I was during my teen years. (Oh no! Does that mean that I'm developing backwards?! Ha!) How lucky we are to be human. Really! We can change our mood consciously. We can turn on the brain chemistry that makes us feel good by simply having a thought. We don't have to react to our environment. We can create our environment.
So, do you set the mood? What works for you?