I have a proven track record of being grouchy about winter.
It’s not very becoming actually. I’m not the type of person who complains a lot. Yet…when it’s winter and it’s freezing, I’m a different person. Complaining regularly. This is not the kind of midlife mom I want to be.
I find myself talking about the weather all the time, like a good Canadian.
The thing that really bums me out is that it gets dark early. I can’t stand it.
Now that I’m a life coach, I’m extremely aware about how my thinking is making me feel.
And I don’t like it. Kind of embarrassing actually.
I know that my thoughts are creating my feelings.
I own that.
I’m creating this for myself.
I’m choosing to think thoughts like:
- I hate winter.
- I need another plan when I retire.
- Winter sucks.
And when I think these thoughts, I feel grouchy, sad and down.
I’m not in the present moment; rather, I find myself looking ahead to when it will be nice again. When winter will be over.
I’m onto myself though. I know this is not the way I want to live. I don’t want to be a grouchy person yet…this thinking is creating my results. It’s almost like I’m forcing myself to be someone I don’t want to be.
I remember something a friend once told me about skiing. She and her family loved to go on winter ski vacations.
At the time, I was a beginner skier in a family with a husband and kids who were avid skiers. I felt like I was pushing myself to ski so I wouldn’t feel left out of this family activity. You know, like dorky mom on the sidelines.
I became an intermediate skier and felt confident on intermediate slopes. I still didn’t love it but at least I could participate.
My friend told me how much she loved to look at the trees when she was on the chairlift.
I wondered, “What trees?”
Funny, I barely noticed the trees. I was too focused on my anticipatory fear of getting off the chairlift.
Then she told me how much she loved to get one of those delicious special hot chocolates from the bar at the lodge during a little break from skiing.
Wow…never thought about doing that.
And then I got an even bigger surprise.
This extremely wise girlfriend showed me a photo of a lounge chair on a deck at the ski lodge.
I was floored. I thought to myself, “You mean you mean you’re lounging out in the sun on a deck rather than skiing?” Until I saw this picture, I didn’t understand that you could actually relax during a holiday focused on an activity like skiing.
It blew my mind. Her perspective about skiing and ski vacations was completely different than mine. And I liked hers so much better.
Now I see that I also have to change my perspective about winter or I’m doomed to early darkness outside and inside.
I don’t want to be a grouch-a-holic.
I live in Toronto after all. There are usually 4 -5 months that aren’t “great,” according to my definition. I’m sure there are ways to think about this time of the year that won’t make me so miserable.
My simple thought, “I hate winter,” is doing a number on my mood.
At times like this, I can see that the thought is creating feelings I don’t want.
Steps to be less grouchy
Step 1: Ask yourself how you want to feel.
I need to think carefully about this and come up with something that’s intentional and authentic. Not just sunshine and lollipops.
I want to feel content. Not necessarily happy. That’s pushing it.
Something more neutral than “hate” and not quite as over the top as “happy”.
What would I have to think to feel content?
Step 2: Make a list of some potential thoughts that create that feeling.
Let’s brainstorm some thought ideas for other ways to think about winter:
- I love knowing that spring is around the corner because I love gardening.
- My kids love snow.
- My dog loves cold weather and snow.
- It’s easier to see the hawks in my backyard ravine in the winter.
- I love being a cozy homebody and it’s easy to do in winter.
- When you have the right clothes, winter can be tolerable (notice I didn’t say “fun”…it’s a stretch for me).
Step 3: Identify the thought that works the best to create the feeling you want to feel.
Hmmmmm. Let’s see. I think the thought that authentically creates the feeling of “content” for me is (drum roll please…..)
MY DOG LOVES COLD WEATHER AND SNOW.
This is so interesting to me! I genuinely love making my dog happy and providing a great life for him. Niko is a big, slobbery Landseer Newfoundland and the heat of summer can be so hard on him, unless he’s in a lake of course. I will have no trouble thinking this thought. I love spoiling my baby boy.
Step 4: Practice thinking this thought, intentionally. On purpose.
Once you identify the winning thought that will create the feeling you want, you need to do what you can to make sure that you remember to think it.
For me, awareness of it is half the battle. But, stickies are super helpful too. I like to post them in strategic locations, including in my calendar and on my computer screen. Another idea…the occasional phone reminder is gold!
So what’s bothering you these days? How are your winter thoughts? How are your thoughts in general?
I’m here to help you with all kinds of thinking to improve your life. Mindfulness really is magic. Click here to get my FREE download, 10 Questions to Reimagine your Life after 50 and keep that beautiful brain of yours out of the land of stagnation! Life’s too short to feel grouchy and stuck.