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  • Writer's pictureMack Ikeru

Navigating moods in grad school

I've been thinking about the role of moods lately. Here's an excerpt of an email I sent a few days ago to my reader/grader team.


We have made it halfway through the quarter -- how are you doing? A couple weeks ago in the advanced learning theories seminar, Megan and I read an excerpt from this book, Learning to Learn and the Navigation of Moods (Flores, 2016). Flores identifies how certain moods (and the related thoughts we have in those moods) either discourage or encourage learning.

I have found that when I am really pushing myself, I may think that I'm in a mood of ambition or resolution, when in reality, I'm just feeling frustrated and insecure about something that is too challenging to realistically accomplish on my own. Alternatively, I might set work aside out of patience or acceptance, only to discover that this 'break' is actually motivated by resignation and overwhelm.

Flores argues that if we mindfully consider what these moods are signaling to us (rather than getting consumed by them), we will get information to help us manage our time and energy more effectively. So, if I'm frustrated or insecure, perhaps I am actually in over my head, and it's time to ask for help or adjust my expectations. If I'm feeling resigned or overwhelmed, I may be losing sight of the concrete steps that I can take despite the difficulty. This advice has truly grounded me these past few weeks -- I'm gradually seeing improvements in the quality of my work AND in my general wellbeing. I think all too often -- in grad school and in life -- I feel that I must choose between feeling well and doing well (in classes, jobs, etc.), only to struggle at both. I feel so lucky to work in a community of people who support one another in both of these areas.

On that note, PLEASE let me know if there is support/accommodation that I/we can offer you as a colleague and friend. So much respect and gratitude for your efforts.

Thanks people, Mack.

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