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It’s ok to be moody; it’s a sign you’re adaptable

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If your day feels like a rollercoaster of emotions, it’s best not to add fret to the mix. It turns out that those who swing on the pendulum of emotional intensity may be exhibiting a natural ability to adapt to change. Which is a good thing.

The University College London has developed a theory that moodiness helps to reinforce our responses to environmental factors.

If an experience makes us happy, we are going to seek more of it. In contrast, we are likely to avoid something unpleasant that brings us down.

Being able to flip a switch when it comes to your reactions is beneficial in terms of survival, both in the office and in general.

"The ubiquity of moods and the extent of their impact on our lives tells us that, throughout the course of evolution, our moodiness must have conferred a significant competitive advantage," said lead expert Dr Eran Eldar.

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The scientists used the example of a stock market trader. If a Wolf of Wall Street wannabe has unexpected gains, it will improve their mood (naturally).

That positive mood may then cause the trader to take more risks, essentially helping them adapt more quickly to a market that is generally on the rise. 

As people learn from experiences that are coloured by their mood, their expectations come to reflect not only the reward associated with each particular state (such as each stock), but also recent changes in the overall availability of reward in their environment. In this way, the existence of mood allows learning to account for the impact of general environmental factors.

"This effect of mood should be useful whenever different sources of reward are interconnected or possess an underlying momentum," said Dr Eldar. 

"That may often be the case in the natural as well as in the modern world, as successes in acquiring skills, material resources, social status, and even mating partners may all affect one another."

Although the study admitted that being moody all the time can lead to depression, Dr Eldar added that “being moody at times may be a small price to pay for the ability to adapt quickly when facing momentous environmental changes”

So feel free to fume for five minutes over the lack of milk in the office fridge and then switch back to your usual lovely self. 

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