By: Elizabeth Weihmiller

I was facilitating our EQ (Emotional Intelligence) class for a client the other day and they asked me a question I had never thought about in-depth. I felt it was a great distinction and not one that is readily thought of. It is also an important distinction to remember for everyday life. The question was:

What is the difference between your mood and your attitude?

You can’t always control your mood. Mood is “a state or quality of feeling at a particular time”. I know there are people who say otherwise but your mood can come out of nowhere from just about from anything. You can control your attitude. Attitude is how you think about a situation. You can choose the attitude you have in different scenarios even if your mood may be entirely different. Some examples:

1) You wake up in the morning feeling sluggish and wanting to just stay in bed but you have to go to work. You can succumb to your mood and have a “lost day” or you can choose your attitude and recognize that it’s a great day and no matter what you face you have an opportunity to grow and learn and make a contribution.
2) You’re driving to work and someone cuts you off making you angry. You always have the option to hold onto your angry mood but how will that help you. Or, you can choose to let the incident go and have a positive attitude when you walk into work, or wherever it is you are going. Brush the incident off and recognize that you don’t know what was going on in the other person’s life at that moment.
3) You got yelled at by your boss. You may feel frustrated or angry – your mood. You can let it take you down and control you or you can choose to change how you look at the situation – your attitude – and how you can learn something from the situation. Or you can look at what you can change to better meet your boss’s standards.

It is completely possible and happens all the time that your attitude can eventually change your mood.

Start becoming aware of what your mood and attitude are at any given point in time. Do they match? Are they different? Are you choosing to change your attitude to compensate for your mood? Then, take action by really focusing on creating the attitude that will move you forward and help you be successful no matter your mood.