Did the sound of that bell make you salivate? It would have if you were Pavlov’s dog. Ivan Pavlov, the world renowned psychologist
conducted a break through study on human behavior where he simply rang a bell and fed a dog some food. He did this over
and over again and then one day suddenly rang the bell but didn’t present the poor pup with any food. What did the dog do
when he heard the ringing bell? He salivated.
Why? Because he was conditioned too. It’s a response he had that he wasn’t aware of or had any control over. You see, habits
and behaviors can simply go on auto-pilot. It’s the way we’re designed. If you see someone at work who you have never gotten
along with your pleasant day just might be ruined. It’s hard to fight this stimulus-response behavior because repeated behavior
actually effects the human brain at the neurological level! In other words, a well formed habit has actually changed the circuitry
of the brain!
Ironically – we can use this auto-pilot behavior to help us to snap out of a bad mood. Because one of the things we’re conditioned
to do (no matter what) is provide answers to questions. Even when we lie about the answer a part of our brain is answering that
It is the power of questions that we can use to improve our moods! If it sounds unbelievable then use yourself as a guinea pig.
The next time you’re in a bad mood ask yourself a series of questions – be firm with yourself when you do this. You don’t have to
do it out (although if you’re in a private place this will help). I’ll give you a few examples – your date shows up late for dinner
and your feelings are hurt. Just ask yourself a series of questions:
“What else could this mean?”
“How does this experience benefit me?”
“What will I do differently next time?”
“Will this matter to me next week? Or next month?”
“Can I let someone else control my emotions so easily?”
“Who is ultimately resonsible for my happiness?”
In my own experience the first question listed is by far the most powerful. I repeat “What else could this mean?” during difficult
situations and if I do it forcefully enough my brain starts putting out answers that help to lift my mood. How can this change
our mood and what does this have to do with the story about Pavlov’s Dog? We are conditioned through stimulus-response to answer
these questions. No matter how hard you try – your brain will answer them!
The next thing we can do to get our mood back is to look at our posture and our own body language. Take a long look in the
mirror and grin from ear to ear for at least 5 minutes, with your feet firmly planted, your back arched and your face tilted
upwards to the sky. Our bodies are conditioned to release endorphins & serotonin into our system when we adopt this posture!