It is possible to change your relationship to your moods—and over time change your moods themselves. You accomplish this by learning how to lead with your life purposes and by making the decision that your life purposes are going to trump your moods.

That is, you make the decision that how you intend to live your life is more important to you than some transitory mood, even a deeply entrenched one like chronic sadness that presents you with down feelings on a daily basis.

The first step in this process is getting clear about meaning. “Meaning” is a certain sort of psychological experience and a certain sort of personal construct and not the sort of thing signified by the phrase “the meaning of life.” When you arrive at this clear understanding, you see that there are many ways to have more of this experience in your life: there are many meaning opportunities to seize and many meaning investments to make.

Because meaning is an experience—something we feel, like love or pain—we can aim for more of it in our life, just as we can aim for more love in our life. However, that it is “merely” a subjective psychological experience also means that it is not what we live for, any more than we live for any other specific experience. You no longer need to look for “the meaning of life” in order to live a fruitful, emotionally healthy life, any more than you need to look for any other experience in order to live a good life.

What then are you looking for? Nothing. There isn’t anything to look for “out there,” nothing to search for, nothing to seek out. Rather, there is a pivotal task for you to accomplish: to make clear life purpose choices and then to live them.

You make strong life purpose choices. You sort through your desires, needs, wants, values and principles and arrive at a personal menu of life purpose choices, a personal life purpose statement, and techniques and strategies for actually getting your life purposes onto your daily to-do list. All of this is possible. This is the essence of authentic living: you make clear life purpose choices and then you live them.

You choose from among your life purposes choices and decide which ones you will live on a given day. Maybe today you will create, relate, serve, and enjoy. Now you know what your day is about. It is about living your life according to your own principles and your own intentions. If you find yourself in a down mood, an angry mood, an agitated mood—whatever mood or state you find yourself in—you teach yourself to say, “I know what my life purposes are and they trump the mood I happen to find myself in.” You learn to say this even more simply: “My life purposes trump my mood.”

That is magic sentence.

If this way of conceptualizing life manages to take hold, that is a breathtaking change. You know why to roll out of bed in the morning; you know why to tackle some hard thing, like writing your complicated novel, telling truth to power, or having a hard conversation with your mate; you know how to make yourself proud on a daily basis. If you find some mood settling over you—if you find yourself getting sad, anxious, angry, frustrated, agitated, bitter, despondent—you say these magic words: “My life purposes trump my mood.”

The simple strategy to try today is just to say those words: “My life purposes trump my mood.” Feel the implications of that statement as you say it. Allow yourself to make this huge switch, the switch from concentrating on your mood to concentrating on your intentions. Just begin in this easy way by getting those words to come out of your mouth: “My life purposes trump my mood.” Say it several times today. Let the idea that your life purposes can trump your moods really take root.


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