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Review of 'The Good Mood Guide' by Ros and Jeremy Holmes

As a person who experiences the usual amount of highs and lows, mood-wise, I’ve learned how to help myself when times are hard. And this book has helped too, offering such advice as learning to accept and transform the bad feeling – in other words, making them work for you rather than against you. You also need to accept your entire person, not only the good bits, because if you try to remove the bad bits the chances are they will return to torment you. Value all parts of yourself. Understand and cherish the ‘bad’ rather than indulging it.

The book is clear on one point too - some ills cannot be transformed and need more drastic remedies to make them harmless.

However, for most of us, for most of the time, changing one small part of life can make a big difference, though transformation is usually slow and steady and does not arrive with epiphany and blinding insight. What’s needed is the establishment of new habits.

Ask your depression what it is trying to say to you. Reflect. Transform. Record bad feelings. Realise that often when you are in a good mood, good things happen. We can’t control everything but can control our reactions. And remember, that moods are made of three parts – physical, emotional and verbal. We’re advised to meet mood with mood, to listen to them, understand and respond, and in learning to value and respect our moods, we utilise the fact that they are the mirror to our hidden self.

Lots of techniques are mentioned, for example, keeping a mood diary, doing collective singing, keeping physically strong, looking for tranquillity, practising controlled breathing, seeking out enjoyment and observation, and becoming more generous with yourself. Tell yourself ‘I am a warrior not a worrier’ and make lists of the characteristics you dislike – not to ponder and become upset over, but to transform.

And, when you’re at your worst, set yourself really simple tasks you can do carefully. Get rid of what you no longer need. Lose anger. Let it go.

This is an interesting book, and one which brought me back to reality when I was quite low. One of the best parts of the book deserves to be re-quoted. I do so here, paraphrased when necessary.

10 commandments of family life

Put intimate family relationships at centre of being. Turn outwards to the world with security and love Be loyal. Thing about good points and be proud of them. If you’re unhappy with family, don’t just moan. Neutral people can help but have to tackle within family. Your feelings are valid. Make time to communicate with family. Respect cycle of generations and how actions can have impact. Don’t discount the feelings of others Recognise sexual jealousy and remember the impact of your actions. Be open and have courage to talk about feelings but make things relevant Be aware of the power of envy Don’t compare your relationships with other peoples

“Everything that happens to you is your teacher. The secret is to learn to sit at the feet of your own life and be taught by it” – Gandhi.

In all, a recommended book which offers much to think about.

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