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In a Word: Mood

Mood is one of those words that’s bandied about casually, its definition varies broadly. “The boss is in a bad mood,” coworkers confide. “I’m not in the mood,” a wife tells her husband.

www.dictionary.com says it’s “a state or quality of feeling at a particular time.”  On a bad day, it’s “a state of sullenness, gloom, or bad temper.”

But what’s really interesting is what the word – which comes from Old English – originally meant…mind and spirit. Etymology is always revealing.

As our world changes, millions of people increasingly find themselves mood-challenged – or flat out in a bad mood, depressed, etc. From the gnarly economic recession to the vertigo-inducing acceleration of modern life, we increasingly face physical and mental stressors, and this affects our mood: mind and spirit.

The ancient Greeks really had their act together – they espoused mind/body/spirit wellness. Today, millions of us focus primarily on body: for example, cosmetic surgery is a much bigger business than meditation instruction.

How much are we investing, say, in mind? How much are we monitoring our thoughts, where they come from (often childhood nasties), and their effect on our mood and behavior today? Meditation is a great way to increase this awareness.

Or what about spirit? For many, a rote weekly visit to church, temple, etc. is supposed to cover that. Ned Flanders. Again, the original meaning of the word spirit is equally revealing; it comes from Latin, and means breath.

This can be interpreted to mean anything from meditation – which centers around breath – to exercise or the outdoors. I once read that with every breath we take, we breathe at least molecule that every other human being on Earth has or will breathe; I don’t know whether this is true or not, but at least symbolically breathing – spiritus – connects us with all other living beings.

To enjoy a good mood – today and everyday – be mindful of the origin of mood. Take good care of your mind and spirit, and your mood will take good care of you.

Erich Toll is a journalist and video producer specializing in mind/spirit wellness.

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