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Mood Matching

 

Techniques Happiness > Mood Matching

Description | Discussion | See also

 

Description

If you are feeling, sad, down or depressed, seek the comfort of the familiar. If you are more upbeat and happy, then seek the stimulation of the new and unfamiliar.

Discussion

This is easily visible in children who will cling to their parents when distressed and go exploring when they are feeling more confident. When we feel threatened or otherwise unhappy, enveloping ourselves in the safety of familiar objects will help to restore positive feelings.

When we are unhappy with where we are, it can be a temptation to move or emigrate. But when you do this, everything becomes unfamiliar, which is not the right treatment for a sad person. Visiting old friends is a better solution. Nostalgia is good for you.

de Vries et al (2010) first got subjects familiar with a particular pattern of dots and then nudged them into happier or sadder moods by recalling emotional events in their lives. They then measured responses to various dot patterns. Saddened people responded more positively to the familiar patterns. Happy people had no preference.

The inversion of this is that when we are happy, familiar things lose their attraction and boredom pushes us out as curiosity takes over in exploration and seeking arousal.

A further extension is to seek to match your activity to your mood in a way that nudges you towards happiness. If you are bored, seek stimulation. If you are lonely, seek company.

See also

Arousal, Temperament, Mood and Emotion

 

de Vries, M., Holland, R.W., Chenier, T., Starr, M.J and Winkielman, P. (2010). Happiness Cools the Warm Glow of Familiarity: Psychophysiological Evidence That Mood Modulates the Familiarity-Affect Link, Psychological Science, 21, 3, 321-8

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