The Mood Meter

Hailey Timmerman, Staff Writer

At this precise moment, what exactly am I feeling? How pleasant or unpleasant do I feel? How much energy do I have? What’s the best word to describe how I feel right now?

If you walk the halls of Farmingdale High School, or sit in a class. You may face a new thing called the mood meter. The mood meter is defined as “a tool that helps people of all ages build self and social awareness.”  The purpose of the mood meter is to develop emotional intelligence. Learning to identify and label our emotions is a critical step toward strengthening emotional intelligence. The mood meter can help you become more mindful of how your emotions change throughout the day, and how your mood can be affecting yourself and the people around you. 

The mood meter was created by a man named Marc Brackett. He is a research psychologist and the founding director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, as well as a professor in the Child Study Center at Yale University. His mission is to educate the world about the value of emotions and the skills associated with using them wisely. He says in his book Permission to Feel, “I want everyone to become an emotion scientist. We need to be curious explorers of our own and others’ emotions so they can help us achieve our goals and improve our lives.” He explains about the mood meter saying, “We can use it as a guide to be more scientific about our emotions and to ask questions related to each of the skills of emotional intelligence.”  

The mood meter is a necessary tool because, when teaching children how to recognize their own emotions, few tools are as handy as the mood meter. It is visually intriguing with the colors and words, and is impactful when expanding one’s emotional vocabulary. Most of us understand the feeling of being sad, but not ”despondent.” We understand the feeling of excitement, but not “elated.” And we understand the feeling of happiness, but not “serene.” Imagine if you didn’t know a way to deal with these emotions, because you didn’t know exactly what they are. Imagine how many indescribable feelings you have felt. Now imagine how expanding, and more importantly, understanding how to attach those feelings to an emotional word, how impactful that would be for your life, and the lives of the people around you. 

Another idea Marc Brackett describes is something called “The Meta-Moment.” This is described as “a brief step back from the situation we are in when we pause and think before acting.” It’s called “meta” because it is a moment, about a moment. It can mean counting 1-3 or 1-10, depending on the emotion. It is giving ourselves a moment to stop, and process our emotions before reacting. This helps us go beyond our first impulse and find a wiser response. Pausing gives us the chance to ask ourselves two questions: “How have I handled situations like this in the past?” and “What would my best self do right now?” The meta moment is not just for regulating emotions. The meta moment can be about developing our emotions to fit our best selves.

So again, those indescribable feelings, and unknown ways of dealing with them, is the main goal behind the mood meter. It is a tool we can use to improve our emotional intelligence, and be able to use this knowledge and improve our day-to-day lives. By learning the importance behind our emotions, we are learning how to label them, and more importantly cope with them. The mood meter is an important tool that can have a strong impact on us for the rest of our lives.