Overcoming Winter’s Discontent

25 Jan

 Sunrise Jan 23 2012

So many people are struggling and suffering right now. There is something about this time of the year, especially for those of us in the midst of winter that leads to deep thought and often sad thoughts. The sun often hides for days and so do the people. We feel isolated and alone, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Now I understand that some people have a much deeper down than others that requires counseling and medication, but for those of us who aren’t there and don’t want to go to that place, there are so many things you can do to lift your own spirits and those of others. Sometimes you have to schedule joy into your life just to remind yourself it exists. It keeps you looking forward in anticipation instead of back in regret. In the list that follows, I challenge anyone who struggles at this time of year to schedule at least one thing per week that you enjoy doing, and if necessary, schedule one thing per day. I guarantee it will make a difference.

One of my favorite things to do at his time or any time of the year is to have lunch with a friend. Because winter is a time when people usually hibernate in their homes, we see less of them. If you are limited with your funds to eat out, host a potluck lunch at your home. If your home is less tidy and clean than you would like it to be, setting a date to have people over is great motivation to get you moving in the right direction. If things are super tight financially and you’d rather not have people in, host a brown bag lunch at the mall. Just make sure somebody buys at least an item or two from the food court. If you work, you could translate any of these to an evening, or you could host a game night for friends and/or family. Ask several people to bring games they enjoy or have a few of your own. You could even set up a jigsaw puzzle if you prefer to just talk. I recently had a few friends over to talk and catch up. We broke open a jigsaw puzzle and worked on the puzzle while we talked and spent one of the most pleasant afternoons I’ve had in a while.

If you’re a person who prefers to stay home or is more house bound because of small children, find a children’s classic book to read. For women, may I suggest anything by Judy Blume and for men or moms of boys who appreciate their humor try the Diary of a Wimpy Kid or Captain Underpants books. Want to really feel like a kid again? Read them under a big blanket with a flashlight. Speaking of feeling like a kid, if you have them, make a blanket fort with them. Play with play dough. Bake cookies. Play in the snow. Finger paint. Look at old photo albums. You can also learn something new, like how to crochet, knit or sew, or you can just find beautiful music or a funny movie that will brighten your day. Music on youtube is free to create your own playlist and your local library may have just the movie you’re looking for. If quiet is your thing, try learning yoga or meditation. It calms your mind and helps you in countless ways.

If you have the financial means, you could treat someone to breakfast or lunch. You could send a gift card or a small amount of cash anonymously in the mail. You could pay a few dollars toward the next person in line at Starbuck’s or the Drive Thru. You could cook a meal or bake some goodies for a neighbor, friend or family member. You could buy flowers for yourself or someone else. I don’t know about other areas of the country, but our local Kroger has discounted flowers for as little as five dollars. If you really want to get crazy, buy some flowers and give them to a stranger. Just hand them to the person, wish them a wonderful day and walk away. I promise they will smile for days.

If all of that feels overwhelming, maybe you need to give yourself a gift. If you’re already spending time at home, give yourself the gift of organization. Organize your finances, pictures or home videos. Clean out the basement or your closets. If you can just spend 15, 5 or even 2 minutes per day clearing out and organizing one area of your life, you will make a positive difference. The key is to get rid of at least one thing per day. Get it out of your house or ready to leave your house and make sure it leaves.

If you really want to look forward, plan a trip to somewhere sunny and start saving for it now. It may or may not happen, but just the idea of being there will lift your spirits. You might even try cooking local dishes from your destination to give you a taste of the vacation you may have some day.

Finally, and this is one of my favorites, you could send a note or a letter of thanks to someone who has touched your life in a positive way. Even if it seems unimportant to you, it may mean the world to the person who receives the note or letter. This is something I started doing a while ago. Two of my children have March birthdays. Some years there have been coaches, teachers or other people who have significantly affected their lives. Sometime near their birthday, I send those people a note to let them know how they have positively affected my children. It only takes a few minutes, but in a few cases, the results are ever lasting. One coach still carries his letter with him, and the letter was written seven years ago.

Maybe none of these appeal to you. Maybe several do. You can do something or you can do nothing but one thing remains the same. You are special and you do matter. You don’t matter for what you do. You matter for who you are, and in my book that means you are a beloved child of the Divine Creator. You are more than you see in the mirror and you are here because you have something to do in this life that only you can do. If you don’t know what that is yet, it can be the most wonderful and exciting search of your life. You can do this and you can make to spring, one day, one hour and one moment at a time. Most of all, thanks for being you and have a great day!

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