Oh, hey January. You've been going on for quite a few days now and this blog hasn't seen a new blog post since you started. This needs to change, doesn't it my friends?!
Have you ever heard of the January blues? With the holiday season behind us and the lights, family gatherings, and fun parties a distant memory, the month of January can be a long, dark, and gloomy 31 days. It's oh so tempting to scroll through summer pictures of white, sandy beaches on Pinterest. The.struggle.is.REAL :)
So, let me try and change your perspective on that. There's a way to actually be grateful for winter. Say whaaa! Sit down and grab a blanket and some hot cocoa - we're going to be chatting for a while, m'dear.
PIN THAT, YO!
Related post: How to practice gratitude: 8 tried and tested tips
Grateful for the opportunity to practice patience
Waaaay back in the day, people used mythical stories to make sense of winter. The Old Greeks had the mythical story of Demeter, who lost her daughter Persephone to the god of the underworld. While the grieving mother searched for her lost daughter earth became dark and barren. That is, until Persephone resurfaced in spring and the earth blossomed again.
Winter. We sometimes have trouble with this long, dark, gloomy nothingness, especially in a world where we love to control our lives.
A lot of people say: “Winter is just not my thing.” Well, let’s do a little thought experiment. Would flowering and flourishing trees consider being leafless in winter as just not their thing? That doesn’t make sense. It’s just the way it is. It’s just winter. Below ground, preparations for spring are in full bloom. Being leafless means laying the groundwork for a new round of flourishing.
Winter, and its leafless trees and empty fields, its cold and dark, is not a standstill but a preparation. Nature’s life forces pull back from the outer world, but they’re still here. They wait below ground until the time is ripe for a new beginning.
This also happens in our lives. We all have times in our lives where nothing much seems to happen. Empty and silent times where we’re waiting impatiently for a new beginning that just doesn’t seem to start happening. Why am I standing here with empty hands? Why don’t I control what happens to me? Why can’t I make it spring, like, right now?
Maybe those times of emptiness and patience are much more important than we realize. Maybe the absence, the silence, and the cold are, in fact, the nutritious soil for a true new beginning.
Everything grows at its own pace. Grass doesn’t grow faster when you pull at it. You can’t hurry a natural or inner process with willpower. You’ll only disrupt the fragile process. There’s a time to create and a time to wait until it’s time. A time to sow and to weed your garden until it’s time to harvest. Just like you can’t force nature to go faster, you can’t speed up events in your life (even if you’re brimming with impatience).
Related post: 8 tips that make practicing gratitude a LOT easier
Grateful for the opportunity for some R&R
That holiday season with all its lights, family gatherings, and fun parties we were talking about earlier? They - and especially the preparations for them - are also incredibly stressful. During the month of December we spend a lot of time in other people's company, thinking about what other people are thinking or feeling, and catering to other people's needs.
How about we use January - and even February - for some well-deserved R&R? Let's use these winter months to rest, relax, restore, recharge, rebuild, recover, revive, rejuvenate, revitalize, and renew. Actually, that's R&R&R&R&R&R&R&R&R&R... but who's counting? ;)
Grateful for the opportunity to tidy up
Being silent and patient during winter months sounds beautiful and serene, but in reality it’s difficult to do. The big question is: ‘What do I dó while lounging about, doing nothing, and being patient?’
The answer to that question is – Marie Kondo would be proud – tidying up. Just like you have to weed your garden after sowing, just like you can have a nesting urge when you’re pregnant, cleaning out, sorting and throwing things out is the most natural behavior in the emptiness prior to a new beginning. What things do you not need anymore? What do you carry around with you that slows down the start of something new?
Start with your surroundings and use that as a gateway for a bout of inner tidying up. Inner tidying up could mean actively changing your perspective on things, starting a gratitude practice, letting go of perfectionism or other fears, or forgiving people for old hurts.
I promise you, this tidying up will clear the way for new beginnings and, before you know it, it’s spring time.
In the meantime, while waiting for spring, why don't you get started with writing a daily gratitude list. Use one of these free gratitude journals.