Friday, 18 January 2013

Motor or dynamo?

Active. It's one of Moodscope's twenty cards, defined as 'engaging or being ready to engage in physically energetic pursuits'. (I think that's pursuits as in activities, rather than pursuits as in what cops do when they hope to arrest robbers.)

Interesting, isn't it, that the psychologists who devised the original 1980s PANAS mood test from which Moodscope was developed recognised that checking to see whether or not someone is inclined to undertake some kind of physical activity is a good marker of overall mood?

It seems to makes sense. I know I feel far from energetic when I'm going through choppy seas. I feel like doing, well, very little to be honest.

When I was young, my brother and I loved building things, and often had little electric motors lying around - the kind that came with kits to assemble your own model car or aeroplane. They'd be powered by a couple of 1.5 volt batteries and the direction of their rotation could be reversed by swapping over the batteries' positive and negative connections.

But it was with no small amount of awe that we discovered that if you replaced the batteries with a small light bulb, it could be momentarily illuminated by simply spinning the motor's rotor with your fingers. If you apply power to an electric motor it rotates, but when you do the opposite and rotate a motor, it generates power: this is of course precisely how a bicycle's dynamo works - powering your front and rear lights as you pedal down the street.

It's a neat phenomenon which, I suggest, is also similar to what goes on in your mind when you rate how active you're feeling. When your mood is better, you feel active. But it's also true that getting active is a pretty sure-fire way of lifting your mood in the first place.

The sign that you're not feeling very active ought to be akin to a red warning light on your dashboard. And for many, it's an easyish one to fix through doing nothing more complicated than getting your body working a little more than it might usually.

We're not talking marathon running here, simply suggesting that it's good to walk, and fine to undertake an energetic bout of housework, garden leaf-picking or car washing.

Take care of your body. Unless you've been keeping something from me, it's the only one you've got.