I know I’m not the only person gearing up for winter – some with glee, it seems, but the ones I’m most aware of, and among whose number I count myself, with some dread. And no wonder – the winters here are LOOOONG! With eleven experiences of a white Canadian rather than grey British winter now under my belt – snowy and icy rather than wet, wild and harsh rather than temperate – I know what’s coming, and I know it’s challenging.
But this year, for some reason, I’ve been very aware of what’s happening inside me and how it affects my behaviour, as I anticipate this annually inevitable season – the inner “bracing” accompanied by the onset of complaining about plunging temperatures and the amount of snow – and I’ve found myself pondering and questioning my attitude. I’ve seen and reposted a number of social media posts about shifting one’s attitude to winter, so as not to fight it but instead receive the different rhythm and gifts it has to offer. People’s responses have shown me that I’m not the only one pondering this. But this weekend my thoughts evolved from wondering what it would mean to “thrive” winter instead of merely survive it, to asking myself WHY this feels so important to me at the moment. I decided that it’s because the way I choose to approach winter – do I resist or accept, brace or embrace, enjoy or complain? – so closely mirrors how I choose to approach LIFE, especially its hardest or simply unchosen parts. And I really want to learn how to live life in more open, present, accepting, and joyful ways. In life as in winter, I’m more and more aware of the missed opportunities for joy and growth, and the needless suffering and expenditure of energy, that result from my resistance to reality and futile efforts to control what can’t be controlled.
This realization about why I’m so drawn to reconsidering my approach to winter led me to make a decision!
I’m going to make it my intentional focus and challenge to thrive winter this year.
(Yes, I’m well aware I am defying grammar rules with this use of “thrive” – it’s intentional… and cutely clever, right?!) 😉
So what does it mean to make it an intentional focus to thrive winter? This is what it means for me:
- Practicing accepting, embracing and enjoying the realities of winter in place of resisting, bracing, and complaining
- Choosing gratitude about what IS through noticing and savouring winter’s gifts
- Actively seeking and choosing activities and postures that winter enables or encourages
[Note: Go back and re-read those three points, replacing winter with life, and I think you’ll see the potential for a “winter attitude experiment” to have far-reaching implications for approach to life in general!]
It’s equally important to me what this intentional focus does not mean, though. It does NOT mean:
- Denying what is hard, unpleasant or limiting about winter
- Making arbitrary and simply external goals and commitments about what I do during the winter
To unpack these two thoughts a little more:
I am most interested in my inner attitude or posture, so I don’t want or need to make a legalistic commitment to, say, never respond to a friend’s comment or complaint about the season with commiseration. Too much verbalized complaining can definitely become an unhealthy habit for me, but its power really comes from the inner stance of bracing and resisting. Further, I don’t believe that true gratitude means ignoring or denying challenging realities, but rather that real, deep gratitude is the energy that can help us to live and thrive in all things. (I’ll likely write more about this at a future point so stay tuned.)
Likewise, I most definitely want to have fun playing with my choice of activities in order to make the most of winter – the creativity, crafts, coziness, winter cooking and inner work that the hibernating instinct facilitates, as well as activities that get me happily outside and active – but I have discovered from past experience that I can distract myself from harder but more important “soul work” by focusing on somewhat arbitrary goals such as “get outside at least four times a week” or “take up three new hobbies before March” etc! I know a significant part of any change in my attitude will both result in and flow from embodied choices and actions, and I’m excited about and committed to that; along the way I may well set numerous actionable goals that support my intention. I just want to ensure that I don’t subtly shift my focus to mere externals as a distraction from the inner changes I’m seeking. Because I am motivated to thrive winter as a “trial run” for thriving LIFE!
So what do you think? Do you want to join me?
I’ve already learnt so much from others about different ways to approach winter (and life!) and I’d love to learn more, to thrive winter/ life TOGETHER, and to share with you what I’m learning, experiencing, doing, and thinking about… If this winter experiment resonates with you, leave a comment here or on Facebook/ Instagram, and let’s start this journey together!
[I’m going to use #thrivingwinter when I post about this, so I invite you to do the same and/or tag me so I can follow your journey too.]