Recently Weight Watchers launched their new platform: Points Plus. I wish them well in their continued success in the dieting and food arena. Inspired by their bold shift in focus, I am introducing my own points program. It is a diet, but not of the food variety. My points program is based on overall attitude rather than foods and exercise. I am naming it “Mood Minders” (an alliteration to assure winning branding).
Mood Minders works like this. We start out with twenty points per day, with an extra forty points for the week to use at your discretion. You can use a portion of your weekly points daily, or you can save them up and have a full fledged tantrum at the end of the week, if you like.
Neutral moods are zero points. So, if I’m observing a situation but not getting upset or making it personal, then it’s a zero points experience. For instance, if I’m watching a driver parallel park on my block, and I notice they must be from the suburbs where they normally park in a lot, but I am not critical of the many maneuvers they make to come as close as ten inches from the curb, then it’s zero points. However, if I make a nasty comment to my husband and we banter on about our superior parking acumen as compared to the shnook in the car, then it goes from zero points to costing me four points. Two points for being catty, two points for innocuous gossiping. Cruel gossip can cost as much as ten points, since it’s not just a mood, but can be mean spirited.
We earn the most points, eight, by volunteering, random acts of kindness, and true forgiveness. Laughter and joy earn us a hefty five. Patience and generosity are also worth six points. And, the good news is patience for yourself, as well as for others, is counted as well. I was able to earn my six points when I made a mistake in my Mood Minders meeting by pronouncing omniscient, “omni cent.” While being corrected by one of the self proclaimed intellectuals in the group, I felt my face flush, thanked him for correcting me, and smiled meekly. If it weren’t for my minding my points, I might have made a pathetic excuse, while silently cursing him for saying anything. Instead of costing me points, I gained points, forgiving myself for my error, and forgiving him for using my mistake to show off.
Based on my new program, my well wishing to Weight Watchers gave me three bonus points. I can later use those points in the event I find myself being critical, like when I ask tight lipped that my husband pick up his dirty socks again, as I did yesterday and the day before that. Of course, a program as rigorous as Mood Minders should be done with the support of a group and a group leader (me). Note: I do not lose any points for arrogance since I did not claim to be a great leader. I merely stated my role within the group.
Let’s take a look to see how some of patients, I mean Mood Minders group members, have fared …
Norma wasn’t quite depressed, but she was constantly comparing herself to others, whining that her life wasn’t as good. She had been known to describe herself as miserable. This always cost her four points: two for complaining, and two for burdening others with her gloom. It took the loss of many points in meetings to get Norma to finally track her points. She as appalled and dismayed to find out that while she viewed her misery to be the fault of others, in the end she was in a point deficit herself. She started recording, and has now created herself anew.
Then there’s middle-aged Paul. He was addicted to rage. If something didn’t meet his expectations he would yell, bullying others to change things so he could be appeased. He would become virtually apoplectic when on the phone with his cable server when there was a service failure. But once he started working the Mood Minders technique, he thought twice before he reacted. He realized he had a choice about instantly becoming irate. He learned to take a moment before reacting. He started to think before he went into a complete frenzy. It’s not that Paul doesn’t ever get angry anymore. But he knows he only has a certain amount of set points for his rage, so he judicially uses them when a situation is worthy of that response. Paul can now manage to stay relatively calm when speaking with his IT manager, even when his computer is on the fritz, because he knows that being patient with him will help him get the result he wants. He still yells at sales people from time to time. But not always, and never in the few hours on Tuesday before he attends his Mood Minders meeting.
Amy started Mood Minders when her anxiety was at an all time high. She was a worrier. Once she found out that she could earn points for laughing she had would intersperse her angst with mirth. She stopped frowning as much, saving her countless thousands in Botox injections.
Although Norma, Paul, and Amy are a mere sampling of the possibilities of Mood Minders, there are all kinds of unhappy people. And, if you’re reading this and thinking you are above Mood Minders, think twice. Self-righteous indignation is a lonely path, and a holier than thou attitude will cost you a hefty five points. But by following Mood Minder’s simple outline, life can be more enjoyable.
A quick outline of Mood Minders:
- You have the power to choose how you react to situations.
- You can minimize your unhappiness, and maximize pleasure
- You can still be miserable, if you like, your points are yours to use
Zero point moods: Feeling your feelings without judgment. Observation, patiently waiting
One Point: Mild annoyance, apprehension, slight impatience, boredom
Two Points: Rolling your eyes at someone’s comment; having a bit of a snide tone when speaking
Three Points: Defensiveness, being judgmental
Four Points: Mild Gossip, self-righteous indignation
Five Points: Being a naysayer, help-rejecter (Someone who asks for help, then when given the help they reject the offerings)
Six Points: Quitting because you don’t like the probable outcome, Bragging at the expense of someone else, or trying to look better than others
Seven Points: Scaring others with your anger; scaring yourself by coming up with worst case scenarios
Eight Points: Intentional, mean spirited gossip; laughing at someone in public
Above Eight Points: Taunting, bullying, spiraling with fear or anxiety, saying hateful things to yourself
- Refraining from sending superstitious chain emails; smiling
- Forgiving small things; being a good sport
- Giving compliments; writing thank you notes
- Keeping your judgmental opinion to yourself
- Full-out laughter; spreading joy
- Patience; generosity
- Good manners; being gracious
- Volunteering; random acts of kindness, true forgiveness
- Joyous laughter, glee, volunteering, random acts of kindness, forgiveness, complimenting others, taking responsibility for one’s actions, giving anonymously to charity, charitable giving (less of a bonus, but on the plus side, nonetheless)