Winter is often a challenge for me. I love to be outdoors as much as possible, and winter weather often threatens to make that goal challenging, or even impossible. But a friend pointed out to me last year that I was complaining a lot about winter, and this opened my eyes to my somewhat negative attitude.
Also, I’ve been told that saying things out loud, even if you don’t necessarily believe them, can start to change the way you feel about them. This kind of positive thinking is often recommended as ways of coping with anger and depression, and I thought I would try it out on winter.
My plan was pretty simple (as most of my plans are); instead of actively complaining, I would say only positive things about winter. My plan did not require me to actually feel positive things about winter, just to say them, even if saying them sarcastically was the only thing I could manage.
My purpose was threefold: 1) make myself easier to get along with during the winter months 2) test out the idea that changing my words can change my mind and 3) make the winter less of a dreaded burden and more of something to look forward to.
This turned out to be more challenging than I had anticipated. In order to say nice things about winter, I had to have some nice things to say! (I did write a list of the virtues of a cold winter last year, but it was insufficient.) So I sat down and drafted a list of the things that are nice about winter…including its beauty, its variety, its refreshing qualities, the way it restarts each new year, the way it makes spring and summer that much more enchanting, the longer nights good for night photography and night hikes, the chance to do fun indoor things, and the way it makes me appreciate warmth so much (the warmth of a hot oven, an electric water heater, a hot shower)…
And once I had that list, I could start saying nice things. I’m actually surprised at how successful it has been so far…I’ve definitely been appreciating the beauty of winter and the chance to do winter sports more this year. It is, of course, becoming more difficult as the attitudes of those around me have started to become more negative with the temperatures (we’re almost to March and winter remains unrelenting, our city has even run out of road salt!*).
And it doesn’t mean I don’t grit my teeth and bite my tongue when I’m navigating the greasy sludge the cars leave on the side of the road for bikers and runners. But I’m quite pleased with the improvement to my attitude (and my friends seem to appreciate it as well) and I’ve begun to wonder where else I should apply this tactic in my life. Perhaps only saying nice things about my boss….
*Their advice is just to “drive slower”