How do you quantify mood? And all the intricacies of human emotion?
How do you objectively say one emotion is an improvement over another? I mean, is anxiety better or worse than anger? I prefer to be angry, to be honest. What if you’re feeling disappointment? Would that be worse than jealousy? While I do this experiment, I need a way to keep things organized and make sure we’re all on the same page.
The Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale (HAM-A)
The HAM-A has been around for decades and was the first chart used to assess the severity of anxiety symptoms, both mental and physical. It’s in the public domain, meaning that you can print up and fill it out yourself if you want. Typically, this rating scale is used in clinical and research settings, and if you mention to a doctor that you’re feeling anxious, depressed, or having panic attacks, they’ll probably ask you certain questions so that they can see where you fit on the chart.
My main problem with using this scale as a way to assess my mood is that it only deals with anxiety. I don’t need to “know my score” to know that anxiety is causing a problem in my life. I don’t need to know if it’s severe or moderate or mild–right now, any unwarranted anxiety is unacceptable to me. I would guess that this rating scale would be helpful in deciding whether or not a particular medication was working or not, or if medication was required in the first place.
If you are experiencing symptoms like I was a month ago, or are unable to function, it can be helpful to see what’s going on–and what other symptoms, like gastrointestinal problems for example, can caused by anxiety. Here’s a link to the chart if you feel it will be helpful in assessing your anxiety.
The Tone Scale
Whether or not you think they’re a bunch of nut jobs, I feel The Church of Scientology has made a few interesting contributions you may not be aware of. One is some pretty comical science fiction. The other is the tone scale, a map of human emotion on a linear scale, greatly appealing to people who think like me. For our purposes, we can simply use this chart to quantify an improvement in mood as opposed to a deterioration. For example, today, the disinterest in my latte order mistake could be considered an improvement over yesterday’s unexpressed resentment at the barista for messing it up. If I was openly hostile towards her, believe it or not that could be considered an even higher score than fear that she would make a mistake.
If I am playing with abandonment, leaving the house without makeup, or singing in the shower, I can clock it all on the scale. Emotions like melancholy score higher than regret, blame, or shame. What I like most about this chart is that each emotion is assigned a number, which I can input into a database and create an awesome chart. Since I am dealing with mood, and there are so many variables at play, this is as “scientific” as I’m gonna get.
My goal in this endeavor is to not only rid myself of anxiety, I want to feel good. I want to want to play, to be enthusiastic about things, and to take action when it’s needed. If you take a look at the Tone Scale below, you can see “groups” of emotions. For the last year, I’ve been living somewhere between 0.3 (Useless) and 2.9 (Mild Interest). It was impossible for me to jump all the way up to 3.5 (Cheerfulness) and then to 22.0 (Games) at the drop of a hat. At best, I could muster up 3.3 (Strong Interest), but more likely I would feel 1.15 (Unexpressed Resentment) if someone suggested I get outside and get some sunshine.
Just because this chart lists emotions in order, doesn’t mean you have to feel all of them in a row–it is possible to skip gradients. It’s also possible that someone else’s energy or mood can pull you up or down the chart. You’ll also notice that there are gaps in between some of the numbers, and that some have much higher scores than you’d expect. The theory is that some emotions are healthier than others. Take, for example, hostility and covert hostility. When you are being covertly hostile, you are sabotaging someone without them knowing. With open hostility, at least you’re telling them to their face. We’ve all experienced this. Be honest–although it’s harder, it always feels better to tell someone what you think of them, rather than talking badly about them behind their back. It’s healthier. And that’s what I’m going for.