The Book of Moods: How I Turned My Worst Emotions into My Best Life (Grand Central, December) is both a memoir and an inspirational handbook, a recording of every emotional squall in Lauren Martin’s life and a step by step to guide surviving – and transforming – moods that once controlled her.
A marketing professional and founder of the Words of Women web site and newsletter, Martin was tormented by depression, anger, anxiety, judgmentalism and stress. Her book recounts how she learned to play whack-a-mole with bad mood triggers and “rewire” her brain with mantras of self-love.
Maddie Caldwell, who edited the book for Grand Central, tells PW, “What really sets this book apart is that it is not a ‘how to.’ It is really personal, grounded in her own experience, but readers take her advice in their own way.”
Martin says her book will still matter to readers' lives although it went to press well before Covid-19 swept the globe and a raft of police shootings sent Americans into the streets demanding social change and racial justice. PW asked Lauren Martin about the power of emotion and the tension of caring for your self emotionally and spiritually while caring about the world.
(This conversation has been edited for length and clarity)
You describe a “mood” as an exaggerated emotional state. Why is it such a powerful force?
The crux of moods lies in accepting and responding to what we can’t control. What is controllable is what we think and how we respond to these events or states. When we are in a mood, we make bad decisions. We do things that aren’t true to ourselves. But if we can achieve a sense of calm, we can react differently.
What is your essential message here?
The book is about introspection. So, ideally, people will find their own insights. They’ll slow down. They’ll ask themselves, ‘What is causing me to feel this way?’ If you get one glimmer, one concept, one thought, that alters your thinking a little bit that’s success in self-help, self-care books.
Your book concludes we should all believe our good time will come—if we keep up our energy to look for it. Still true?
The world is going to be a very different place by the time this book is released. But it is still relevant. It is about transcending our emotions when the whole world is in a state of emotional chaos. People are feeling feelings they don’t understand; anger, anxiety, and restlessness. Justifiably so. But emotions are like energy. They transfer to the people around us. We're in a state of emotional chaos.
What do you suggest to snap the chain reaction?
I am taking a note from my own book. I look at Buddhist philosophy called Tonglen. It's a meditation practice for when you feel unstable or upset. Take that moment as a cue. Acknowledge that you are suffering then think of everyone who is suffering. Breathe in their pain and breathe out a blessing for them. Doing this shifts your focus away from yourself.
Should we put energy into self-care when taking action for social change seems so urgent?
If you can fix yourself you can affect others. This may be an individual practice but it allows you to use your focus for bigger things. You send love, not judgment out into the world.