When I look back at the last seven days, I remember a rough week. Hard thing after hard thing. Maybe you do, too. That’s why this article I just read about the Norwegians and how they look at winter was manna to me. In a land where there are four (four!) months of NO SUNLIGHT, the people are happy, with comparatively low depression rates, choosing to see the coldest, darkest time of year as a thing to celebrate instead of a thing to dread. The way they talk about their days to one another, getting excited about skiing and hot drinks and cozy nights by the fire, turns dark and dreary into fun and festive. As someone who typically dreads even the tame, virtually snowless Tennessee winter months, I’m blown away.
“‘One of the things we do a lot of in the States is we bond by complaining about the winter,’ says [Kari] Leibowitz, [currently a PhD student at Stanford University, who spent August 2014 to June 2015 on a Fulbright scholarship in Tromsø in northern Norway]. ‘It’s hard to have a positive wintertime mindset when we make small talk by being negative about the winter.'”
But, Leibowitz goes on to say, “‘This is easy enough to change; simply refuse to participate in the Misery Olympics. Talk about how the cold gives you a chance to drink tea or hot chocolate all day. Talk about ice skating, or building snowmen. Bundle up and go for a walk outside, knowing that you’ll likely feel warmer and happier after a few minutes. Better yet, go with a friend. Social plans are a great reason to haul yourself out from under the covers.”
There’s no denying hard things are hard, but there’s also no denying that our burdens lighten when we change our gaze. I need my burdens lightened. Maybe you do, too. So around here I have to admit that this same week filled with struggle has also been a week filled with our first real family photos since Rocco was a newborn, a conversation with a total stranger who saw Tim calming Rocco and wanted to talk about what a sweet husband I have, precious truths that feel nearer to me than they did before and moment-by-moment help from the one who made me. I’ve wondered before if it’s Pollyanna to focus on the positive, but now I wonder if part of the hard work of being a grown-up is learning how much we need gratitude to survive.
Other links and things I’ve loved recently: