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LET THE LOW MOODS PASS

Q: When my spouse or teenager gets into a bad mood, I literally can't stand it because they don't act as nice! It's really hard and I feel like I'm going to lose my mind. Help. What can I do?

A: Low moods are both mysterious and predictable. We can't really blame the outside world as the cause because, as we all know, what "bums out" one person, delights someone else. Snow, for example, is depressing for some, yet is something that others look forward to all year long. And talk about being predictable, to the best of my knowledge, there has never been a person to walk the Earth who hasn't had thousands of low moods. This is certainly true for me. My own mood varies day-to-day, sometimes many times a day.

Since low moods are so predictable and most of them pass so quickly (I'm not talking, of course, about serious mental problems), it's really pretty easy to allow someone to simply "be" in a low mood and not take it personally. Believe me, it's not personal. If you weren't in the picture, I absolutely, positively guarantee, your spouse and teen would still have plenty of low moods! When seen in this light, it's pretty simple to take the moods of others, even those of whom we love, far less seriously. We can let them run their course with the security that the mood will be much higher, in most cases, in no time at all. There's really nothing we have to do, except let it happen all by itself. In fact, often, the less we do, the better.

Buys on impulse

Q: I'm what you might call an "impulse buyer." I don't have major financial problems, but I can't seem to save any money. Are there any small changes I can make that might help?

A: Saving money is easier than most people believe it is, especially when the problem is on the spending and not the revenue side of the equation. If you can rethink the ultimate "reward," and then adjust your habits, ever so slightly, I think you'd have your problem solved.

I had an acquaintance who told me that every time he went grocery shopping (at least once a week), he would toss three or four magazines in his basket with the fantasy that he was actually going to read them. I asked him to start an experiment. I suggested he spend 10 seconds asking himself whether or not he was really going to read each magazine. If he was, then, by all means, he should go ahead and buy it and enjoy. If not, it should stay on the rack. He admitted to me that, at least three out of the four magazines were never opened. Ironically, at least two of them were usually "financial" magazines!

Here's the important part: He learned to take the $12 a week he used to spend on magazines, and put it into his savings account. He hadn't realized that saving almost $50 a month could be so effortless! By the way, that $50 a month, invested wisely over many years will add up to many thousands of dollars.

Richard Carlson is the author of "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff."

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