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Shelf Help: The Book of Moods by Lauren Martin

In 'The Book of Moods: How I Turned My Worst Emotions Into My Best Life', Martin articulates the way many of us feel when dark thoughts and feelings take over

When dark clouds take over
When dark clouds take over (Unsplash)

What is a mood? This is how Lauren Martin describes it in a post on her popular Instagram page Words of Women: "When I talk about #moods I don’t just mean generic emotions. I don’t mean angry or sad or stressed. I mean those feelings we have that we can’t explain. The suffocating feeling at the end of the day when you don’t know what you want or need but you need something to stop whatever is going on inside. I mean the restlessness you feel even though you don’t have anywhere to go. I mean the horrible feeling of looking in the mirror and feeling ugly even though yesterday you thought you looked great. I mean the feeling that something is wrong when everything is right and good and as it should be. These are moods. These feelings that come up and take hold and we don’t know why or what to do about them."

Martin is a US-based writer and the founder of Words of Women, a popular blog that aims to educate, inspire and transform the lives of women through support and understanding for their emotional lives. She started the blog and wrote this book, part self-help and part memoir, because she felt the way many of us do at times—deeply unsatisfied, or angry and irritable though we don’t know why, or suffering crippling self-doubt and imposter syndrome, or imagining that we are not loved and valued. Mostly, these moods come out of nowhere and have little basis in rational reality—they might attack us even when things are going relatively well in our life, and we have loving friends and partners and work that satisfies us.

And yet, we find ourselves obsessing over an email and worrying about its tone for much longer than it deserves, or feeling suddenly judged by a stranger, or, as Martin puts it, be the kind of person who “rewinds scenarios like worn-out cassette tapes.” Although this book doesn’t look too deeply into the underlying, deeply psychological reasons we may feel like this, it acknowledges that everyone has these ‘dark’ moods and sometimes the best way to deal with them is to let them pass through us, noticing and acknowledging but not reacting, as mindfulness teaches us.

Sometimes moods do have deeper psychological or physiological basis and more lasting impact, and you should seek professional help if you feel these moods continuing longer-term, but this book is a good way to start an exploration of your own moods and what triggers them, and how to harness them to actually work for you instead of against you. Through her own journey of exploring her moods and their triggers—the things that suddenly clouded a previously sunny day or turned her from light-hearted to snappy in a matter of moments— Martin universalises the experience of feeling this way and gives the reader a manual to start their own journey of recording and accepting their moods.

The Book of Moods by Lauren Martin (John Murray;  <span class='webrupee'>₹</span>460 for the Kindle edition)
The Book of Moods by Lauren Martin (John Murray; 460 for the Kindle edition)

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