What is the Best Mood? | Varyer

What is the Best Mood?

Zendaya, the star of a TV show that the Washington Post called “depressing, dirty, and occasionally foul,” once said: “There are so many great things in life; why dwell on negativity?”

We can’t all be so chipper. Empaths are the new introverts, and those of us who feel it all are uniquely qualified to determine the best mood. Maybe it seems obvious—happiness sounds great, right? Let’s take a look.

Happiness?

No. The typical self-diagnosed empath feels everything but happy. Happiness, unless it’s chemically-induced ecstasy, is too trite. Rather than binge on happiness’s bland joy, we prefer to tune in to purer, more invigorating moods.

For help identifying your own, turn to this classic diagnostic tool, or your therapist.

Embarrassment

Everyone, whether empath or mortal, has their own baseline temperament, a prevailing mood they inhabit most naturally and frequently. Cathy’s is overwhelmed, Tony Soprano’s is rage, Marge Simpson’s is resigned, and mine is absolutely mortified. Embarrassment is a challenging feeling that starts out rocky but ages well; it’s rewarding to look back at the fool you used to be and revel in a bracing feeling of superiority, even if only in comparison to your own past self.

When I’m craving that adrenaline rush, I revisit a childhood memory of rummaging through my mother’s desk and dresser drawers, a ritual I performed quarterly from ages eight to eleven. As I helped myself to a twenty-dollar bill from her purse, I was surprised to encounter something of my own: a handwritten novella of juvenile autofiction erotica starring a pioneer boy (“Jason” 😘🧑‍🌾) in which we locked eyes across a creek about once a chapter. I’d written it in fourth grade and disposed of it a year later, after I’d had my fill of Jason. My mother must have fished it out of the trash and saved it, recognizing genius when she saw it. I stole it back.

For help identifying your own, turn to this classic diagnostic tool, or your therapist.

I stepped things up after this security breach. Lacking a shredder, my current practice is to douse sensitive documents in ketchup and throw them in a dumpster (ideally behind Wendy’s after I pick up my order at the drive-thru).

Neither of us has ever spoken of it.

I stepped things up after this security breach. Lacking a shredder, my current practice is to douse sensitive documents in ketchup and throw them in a dumpster (ideally behind Wendy’s after I pick up my order at the drive-thru).

Romantic Despair

I started young with this mood, which is more potent than mere wistfulness. On family road trips I played the Backstreet Boys on my Discman and stared out the window at dead Indiana cornfields, thinking about the Jasons in my life and how disgusting it was to be stuck in a minivan with idiots who had never been in love (my parents).

When the Walkman was first released, the journalist and Yale lecturer Walter Shapiro freaked out, predicting that it would lead to antisocial assholes (kinda) or even incest (any Walkman-induced cases have yet to be reported). His example of the precious discourse that would be lost in such an individualistic world? The American family sitting around at home “discussing Kierkegaard or telling knock-knock jokes.” I say let it die.

The key here is the dissociative glamor provided by portable personal audio. The Walkman and its descendants are responsible for main character syndrome, the modern psychological disorder that’s kind of fun when it happens to you. Watching myself in the rearview mirror while shadows flickered across my face and the Boys told me what way they wanted it… yum. I was starring in my own opening credits sequence, and I was fortified with the implicit promise that the rest of my life would therefore unfold cinematically.

However! If you aren’t careful, this mood can spiral right into…

Deflated

My parents used to host an annual ‘get-together’ that got relatively rowdy for their age group, and in my teenage ennui, I was deeply depressed by the sight of normal adults enjoying themselves. I still am, actually, especially now that I’m one of them. What are we doing?

Other deflatingly bleak situations:

  • When I got a basic cubicle job, imagining that I’d be a glamorous figure of interest. It turned out no one cared about me. At one point I jammed the office printer with my resumé, perhaps as a subconscious cry for attention.

  • When I got home after a hard day and my boyfriend texted me “Notice anything? 😘” Excited, I combed the apartment for a gift. I eventually gave up and texted him back “?” while my imagination continued to run wild. Maybe the gift was so big it was out in the yard? It turned out that he’d unloaded the dishwasher.

When the Walkman was first released, the journalist and Yale lecturer Walter Shapiro freaked out, predicting that it would lead to antisocial assholes (kinda) or even incest (any Walkman-induced cases have yet to be reported). His example of the precious discourse that would be lost in such an individualistic world? The American family sitting around at home “discussing Kierkegaard or telling knock-knock jokes.” I say let it die.

Being A Good Sport

Ah, the yin-yang of hating every moment of being a good sport while simultaneously feeling like a pious angel for doing so… absolutely delicious.

If that frisson alone isn’t tempting enough for you, know that being a good sport can sometimes pay off even beyond the warm embrace of the martyr’s cloak. When I was in junior high, my grandma encouraged me to take golf lessons. Because she was sixty-five and, in my mind, near death, I obeyed. I faked a smile as I putted my way down the fairway, fresh tan lines sizzling into my arms in all the wrong places. Since I’d been a good sport, she gave me a fifty-dollar savings bond that I still have!

Although I certainly went above and beyond to smile during my golf lessons, one of the most powerful examples of being a good sport I’ve ever heard came from a former coworker, who told me about the time she went home with a stockbroker who had pull-up bars installed in every doorway of his apartment. “And this place was big,” she assured me. “Like, eight doorways. And every time we walked into a new room, he did twenty pull-ups. By the third room he was really kind of flailing and he kicked me in the face. I mean, he grazed me. Nothing broke. But still.” She touched her cheek. “He was so impressed at what a good sport I was!”

She then confirmed that they’d slept together that night.

Blessed

My coworker was a positive, upbeat person who reported that she felt gratitude on a regular basis. She considered being kicked in the face by a master of Wall Street almost as a blessing, similar to how it’s supposed to be meaningful when a bird poops on you. He doesn’t do that to just anyone! To feel grateful or blessed is more profound than merely feeling lucky. It’s a self-important, satisfying sense of being personally marked for good fortune by the gods.

Personally, I never feel more blessed than when I’m consuming true crime content. It’s a gratifying mingling of sensations. I would never dismember anyone. I would never bungle a police investigation because of my pathetic innate sexism. A moral glow of superiority blooms in my heart. There’s also an indulgent aspect of self-pity—this could happen to ME!—and schadenfreude—but it happened to her first.

It’s commonly stated that this is one of those crazy German words that has no English equivalent. It would be nice to believe that only Nazis could coin such a sinister term, but there’s an English equivalent as well: epicaricacy.

It’s also fun to feel noble and pious for not liking true crime and finding it exploitative and crass. It’s a win-win for the audience, emotionally speaking.

Feeling blessed is a fragile thing Feeling blessed is a fragile thing

Radical Insignificance

Feeling blessed is a fragile thing, though. Any sense of my good fortune is typically shattered the second I open my work email. And sometimes, upon confronting some cruel chore (disputing a Con Ed bill, cleaning peanut butter off a spoon) it is very difficult for me to go on. In these situations, I embrace the concept of radical insignificance. I don’t worry about my job, I concede the bill, and you know what, maybe I just throw the filthy spoon away as a little treat to myself. I feel liberated by the spiritual oblivion to be found in the fact that our lives amount to busywork, in both a macroeconomic and cosmic sense.

How do you get in on this powerful perspective? Go look at the stars! Stargazing is good to do if things in your life are going poorly. Against the sweep of the cold universe, it’s clear that none of that matters. It’s a little less pleasing if things are going well for you, because none of that matters. The Ton 618 ultramassive black hole doesn’t care about your killer marketing presentation, Emily.

This is good for humbling yourself in your relationships, as well. As a case study, I present the time I came out of the bathroom at a bar to find an empty booth; my ‘friends’ were gone. When I asked the bartender if she’d seen them, she told me they’d left and then helpfully added, “And they actually didn’t even discuss waiting for you.”

I didn’t kill them only because I was able to recognize that nothing matters (and that they would eventually die on their own, anyway 🙂).

Enlightenment

The best mood is the way that perfume ad copywriting makes you feel. It’s marketing poetry, describing incredible scenarios meticulously and immodestly. It centers you, the sensitive consumer with a rich eye for detail who presumably can relate to the following lifestyles:

You can learn so much from these. I never knew daisy trees existed; thank you Marc. They’re so moving, too; I want to call attention to the very special lunatic copywriting that’s happening over at Etat Libre d’Orange: His beauty would have been his greatest asset. One imagines he was raised in the big air of Texas, his soft skin scrubbed by ears of wheat, his eyelashes curled by grappling with grace against a blinding sun… (I wish my pioneer boy novella had been this good!)

  • An ode to a sunny escape in the countryside, this fragrance evokes a nap under the trees in the park of an old villa, where fresh scents of cypresses and lemon trees float on the balmy breeze... Maison Margiela, Under the Lemon Trees

  • Edgy but fresh, light but comforting, hints of windswept memories aroused by sunbathing in a breeze at Costa Azzurra Acqua…Tom Ford, Costa Azzurra Acqua

  • Contagious love of life….Delicate daisy tree petals mingle with sparkling cashmere musks and driftwood... Marc Jacobs, Daisy Love

The descriptions are so enchanting that it’s disappointing to smell the real thing. Instead, treat the ad copy itself as the product itself; get on the Sephora site ASAP and study the words until you’ve been implanted with false memories and are overcome by a pleasing ambiance. You’ll know the best mood when you feel it. It’s undeniable, like “a walk through the redwood forest with a baby-powdered newborn.” (Diptyque’s Orphéon Eau de Parfum) Godspeed.

You can learn so much from these. I never knew daisy trees existed; thank you Marc. They’re so moving, too; I want to call attention to the very special lunatic copywriting that’s happening over at Etat Libre d’Orange: His beauty would have been his greatest asset. One imagines he was raised in the big air of Texas, his soft skin scrubbed by ears of wheat, his eyelashes curled by grappling with grace against a blinding sun… (I wish my pioneer boy novella had been this good!)