Mores and Moods

When it comes to non-fiction, I almost always have multiple books going at once.  Four or five isn’t unheard of.  Partly, that’s because of the kind of non-fiction I read … inspirational … psychology … self-help … spirituality.  These genres seem to go one way or another.  In some, the author latches onto a few useful principles for making life better then expands them into a book though repetition and anecdotes.  I hate repetition and if I wanted stories, I’d be reading fiction, so I take breaks.  On the other hand, some of these books require so much heavy lifting that I need breaks.  Yes, I also have a limited attention span.  Yes, I also leave my books wherever I happen to be reading and forget about them until I pass that way again.

Sunday morning, I drove my son to the doctor’s office and while I was waiting in the car, I found Amy Alkon’s I See Rude People waiting patiently between the driver’s seat and console, a page dog-eared over at the beginning of the last chapter.   You may recall that I posted on Rude People back on February 2nd, so this little 200 pager has been in the works for two months.  The last chapter, It’s Nice to Be Nice, was different from the rest of the book, which was a humorous and sometimes snarky exploration of rudeness in our culture and it’s causes … along with some strategies for fighting back.  The last chapter talked about the benefits of being nice, not just for society but for ourselves.  When we do things of other people, she says, we not only feel better, we subtly encourage people to do nice things for us.  She cites work by psychologist Paul Ekman that shows we are able to discern niceness from a variety of microexpressions, like eye movements and gestures.  I think she’s probably right … I just wish that rude and nasty people would get back what they dish out in kind, too.  I suppose, though, they wouldn’t care enough to notice.

At lunch, I found Richard Carlsen’s you can HAPPY no matter what hiding under some mail on the kitchen table, bookmarked at the beginning of Chapter Two, The Principle of Moods.  According to Carlsen, moods are a reflection of how seriously we take our own thinking at any given minute.  In a good mood, we’re inclined to ignore our imaginings of hard times ahead, while during a bad mood, the hard times seem to be already here.  He doesn’t suggest that our perceptions of reality are any more reliable in a good mood, just that we are able to deal with problems more easily in a good mood.  He also suggests that we be aware how our bad moods affect our thinking and take them a little less seriously.  I think this is really good advice but I see one caveat based on behavior I’ve seen in myself.  People in good moods sometimes minimize or ignore problems, so we shouldn’t get carried away by our good moods either.   To me, balance always seems best.

So, it’s Top Sites Tuesday.  I’ve knocked off one book and gotten one more chapter into another.  I’m sure there are several more around here somewhere.  My Two Thoughts on Tuesday are:  Be nice to people, it’s good for you … and don’t take your moods too seriously, up or down.  You can do both by pushing my button to make me Number One on Top Sites Tuesday # 145 … regardless of your mood.

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16 Comments on “Mores and Moods”

  1. Is it bad that I find your advice not to take a good mood too seriously to be kind of a downer? 😉

  2. cherperz Says:

    As we have already discussed on past commenting sessions, I am not a huge fan of self-help books. As I am hesitant to pick on Richard Carlson with him being dead and all, BUT I find any book that uses words such as EVERY, ALL, NEVER, ALWAYS in their title or intro might have already lost my respect.

    I still believe that our personalities are a moving target. We are a sum of our life’s experiences, our eduation, our interactions with people around us and probably dozens of other factors. I do agree that our mood can waver between good and bad. (see…already, I am thinking we aren’t ALWAYS going to be happy) So it appears to me that no book can tell me how to be happy, worry-free, successful…or whatever they are peddling because the author doesn’t know my circumstances.

    I will go so far as to agree that everyone would be well served to be kind to others and be NICE.

    • oldereyes Says:

      When I started working the Steps, people told me, “Take what you like and leave the rest.” I’ve gotten really good at doing that … and in doing so, I find useful stuff in places I’d never have ventured.

  3. “My Two Thoughts on Tuesday are: Be nice to people, it’s good for you … and don’t take your moods too seriously, up or down”

    Agreed, Bud! Agreed!

  4. liggybee Says:

    You remind me of my sister with all those books. She always has stacks of books from the library at her house and I always wonder how she manages to read them all before they’re due.

    I, on the other hand, borrow just one book at a time but 10 or more music CDs to listen to for a couple weeks.

    Anyway, I wish more young people would find reading more enjoyable. Maybe with the popularity of books like the Twilight series and The Hunger Games, reading will become a popular youth pastime. I’m tired of hearing them talk about video games all the time.

    Clicks, Bud!

    • oldereyes Says:

      I buy a lot of “gently used” books on Amazon or new books on the Barnes and Noble. So I don’t have to worry about returning them. I just don’t “get” video games.

  5. territerri Says:

    I haven’t read a self-help book in a long time, but I think I should read You Can Be Happy. I am a victim of my own mood swings and no matter which one it is, I participate fully. When the downward swing hits, look out! (I barely left the house this weekend. Does that tell you anything?)

    I read a lot of fiction, historical fiction, feel-good stories and such. When I read non-fiction, it still tends to be in story form… biographies and such. Your reading choices are different from mine, but they always catch my interest.

    (Sorry I haven’t been around here much. I hadn’t realized how far behind I’d fallen in my blog reading/commenting!)

    • oldereyes Says:

      It’s s good book if you don’t take it too seriously. As Cheryl says, Carlsen is too ready to go for always or never when sometimes is the truth.

  6. I always try to be nice to people, even if they are rude. Somehow I feel that if they are complete jerks and I’m still smiling, they did not win and spoil my good mood 😉


  7. Hi Bud,

    It would be great if Everyone could play nice, but there always has to be one or two people that are rude and try to get everyone else around them all fired up. It seems as though the people that act like this are just trying to have everyone around them feel as pitiful as they are at the moment… you know “Misery loves company”

    Clicks for you,

  8. […] 5, 2012, 12:55 pm : + 50 A very interesting blogger over at Older Eyes  has had a couple of posts in which the subject of self-help books were mentioned.   From […]

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