It’s important to practice allowing our uncomfortable feelings and exploring the thoughts that may be causing us to suffer. But after you’ve done your processing, it may be time to move on.
That’s where mood magick comes in. And yes I’m calling it that because it’s more fun than “emotion replacement” or whatever. And because it is, essentially, alchemy.
The idea behind mood magick is pretty simple: take a crappy day and make it awesome. And there are a CRAPTON of ways to do this (the real trick is to just slow down, stop, and DO SOMETHING). I’m going to tell you about 3 things that I have found effective for upgrading my vibe.
Method #1 : Affirmations
The great thing about affirmations is that they actually work, even if it’s not immediately obvious.
The crappy thing about affirmations is that most of them sound corny, and you really have to find words and phrases tailored to your unique brain to be truly effective. Here’s one I happened upon awhile back that works immediately to bring me out of a basic fog, disconnection, or malaise.
“This is the best part of my day. Lets not miss it.”
Something about that thought, that everything is already good, or could be, just really works for me.
If my mood is darker, I have to bring out the big guns. I’ll sit right down in front of the mirror and start complimenting the CRAP out of myself. “I love you. I LOVE you. I love myself. I’m doing SO AMAZING. I’ve been working SO hard. You are so beautiful. You are powerful and smart and worthy.”
And so on. Find what feels natural. Find what feels empowering. Say something that actually makes you smile or laugh. Use a buttload of swearwords if you need to. “I am the fucking shit, lord of all badassery!” Look up “sassy drag queen interviews” on YouTube and try on some of their phrases. If there’s a group that knows how to celebrate themselves, it’s drag queens.
Whatever you do, the alchemy happens when you take it seriously and FEEL it. It might seem goofy as hell, but it WILL trick your brain into working in your favor. That’s the point of all of this. And if you FEEL the good feelings – really GROK the concepts of feeling better, loving yourself, whatever angle you’re going for – your brain WILL respond. It might take 3 minutes, 3 hours, or 3 days, but you will see a shift.
The second thing I do (and I usually roll this into the mirror exercise) is visualize. It’s essentially manifestation on the day scale. Are you feeling crappy and worried that you’ll continue to be a bum at the party tonight? Do you need to perform? Do you want to actually enjoy time with your friends? Or working on your side project? Whatever the reason you want to shift your mood, visualization can create amazing results.
As with any emotional neurohacking like this, the results are equal to the amount of effort you put in – the feelings you generate, the detail in your thinking, and how present you are for the exercise. The more effort you put in, the bigger the prize and the longer it will last. So give yourself at least 10 minutes of focus, but don’t be shy about making an hour of it.
The exercise is simple: start talking (in your head or out loud) about how your night (or day) went as if to a friend after the fact. Get excited. Be surprised at how well it went, considering what you expected. I literally usually start thinking something like,
“Dude. Holy crap. Last night was SO AMAZING! I thought it was going to suck but I ended up opening something up and I made a decision to allow the best into my world and SHIT HAPPENED! People showed up, powerful things happened, I felt connected. It was just so amazing. I’m so grateful.”
Except I’ll do this 10 times, elaborating on different aspects each time. I don’t generally get uber specific about exactly what happens, but it does seem useful to get specific about how you FELT (ie how you want to feel).
I shit you not, I have saved some seemingly doomed nights like this. I was absolutely astounded by what ended up happening and how good I felt. And as a result, I felt seriously magickal. There’s a science to how all this works in that we are no longer closing ourselves off, we are more likely to see the good, to respond in ways that make others feel safe, and so on. But there’s also something… that I can’t explain. And I know that a little bit of occult-level faith is actually incredibly empowering for my own brain hacking, so I SOAK THAT UP. Whether you do or not is a choice, but I challenge you to try this exercise and just see what happens.
Method #3 : Get Physical
We can trigger the release of good-feeling neurochemicals like dopamine, oxytocin, and endorphin through physical activities.
One great way to get your happy chemicals firing is through intense exercise. When we experience pain, our body releases endorphins as a kind of natural pain killer. Weirdly, this is why we feel high after a good exercise – our body thinks we’re in pain. If you can get your butt to the gym and do a good hour of cardio and weights (and do some positive affirmation work while you’re at it!), you’re golden.
But even if you can’t muster the energy, just get out and go for a walk with your thoughts. Go out for ten minutes. Touch a few trees. Look at the sky. Breathe the air. Get present. Just walk. It will help.
Another great way to shake off the bad vibes is to dance like a crazy person in your room. Put on music you love and GET IT. No one has to know. Unless you feel inspired to post it on Instagram, which I highly recommend, because things like that make the intention twice as powerful.
If you want to explore dopamine, have some chocolate. Now, I’m not encouraging you to rely on sugar (or other addictions like alcohol, fast food, or nicotine) to get through your tough times. But if you’re doing pretty good on the addiction front, there’s nothing wrong with indulging yourself in a sacred way when you could use a boost. REALLY enjoy that chocolate. SAVOR it. Give it the power to lift you out of your darkness.
SMILE! I forget what that releases, but it helps! Even if it doesn’t feel good at first.
If you want to try releasing some oxytocin, GO GET TOUCHED. Find a friend or lover to cuddle with. Go get a LONG hug. Get a MASSAGE. Hell, stand in your room and TOUCH YOURSELF. Really. Like just start loving on your calves and thighs, your belly and shoulders, your face and ears. Celebrate you. I find getting connected to and re-familiarized with my body does a lot for my relationship with myself.
Lastly (but probably not actually lastly), LAUGH. Put on your favourite comedy (I recommend Wet Hot American Summer), go to a comedy show, or a burlesque show, or go hang out with some of your witty friends. YouTube “dumb cat videos”. Whatever it takes. Laughter also releases endorphins.
It’s Okay To Feel Bad Too
Remember: It’s TOTALLY okay to feel sad, disappointed, lonely, or fragile. It’s really important to be able to allow yourself to feel uncomfortable feelings without trying to resist them and push them away. It’s healthy to sit with them, to be curious about them, and to challenge the thoughts that created them.
But if you’ve done that and you’re at the point where you are ready to CHOOSE to feel something more empowering, that’s when you can use mood magick as a tool to break out of it.
DISCLAIMER: As with everything I write, I have to mention that if you’re experiencing chronic depression and can’t seem to pull yourself out of a mood, it’s NOT your fault, and it’s NOT because you haven’t worked hard enough. When I talk about choosing to be positive, I’m not trying to say people who haven’t been able to overcome their emotional state are being lazy or unwilling. On the other hand, I believe in the power of the brain, and science shows that there are many paths to improving the experience of depression, so my goal is to provide hope and ideas to anyone who hasn’t exhausted all their options yet. <3