Saturday, July 1, 2017

Hopeful Thinking - Saturday, July 1, 2017 - Can't Change the Weather

Some years ago, I had a sudden epiphany. I hated winter. Okay, so perhaps that’s not such a revelation, but to be honest I hadn’t really thought about it before. Sure, I had complained about it enough, but I hadn’t really declared my awareness to the level of actual venom.
I see people all the time who emphatically hate winter and even all things white, just to be on the safe side. They appear to love the sport of icy grievance. They speak of the weather as if it were grounds for a customer service complaint. To whom would their suggestions be boxed?
There’s a spiritual concept of Nonresistance which confuses us, especially Americans. We have been ingrained to resist as a point of national heritage. If we don’t like something we resist it. We throw our tea into the harbor time and again. The urge to resist is natural, it’s conscious, direct and actionable. Nonresistance as a concept feels like punching someone with Jello.
But nonresistance isn’t passive. It isn’t ineffective either. But it’s very subjective. There’s no proof to anyone else but you that it’s working. What is it you really want to accomplish? ‘Feel better,’ is ultimately the answer. And then we set about deciding what it is that will make us feel better when we usually have no real idea.
Start with how you feel about things over which you have no control. Winter, for instance. You do not have control over the weather, but you have plenty of control over how you feel about it. You do not have universal control over your children, your job, your health, or your spouse. You only have control over two things: how you feel about them and your proximity to them.
When I realized I actually hated Winter it was a wake up call for me. I didn’t want to hate something. I didn’t want to spend my year either glad it’s not Winter, dreading the Winter, or suffering through it. I needed to improve my relationship with the season not spend my energy battling it. That’s how Don Quixote ended up with a crooked sword.
But like the Man of La Mancha I have a near inexhaustible optimism. I decided to see what there was to love about Winter. As it turns out they nearly all begin with the letter S. The cold weather means sweaters, soups, snuggling, for some it’s skiing, sledding or snowboarding. You may not love all of these, but I bet you can think of more.
It doesn’t change the amount of snow, but it sure can change your feelings relative to it. And that’s what we are really going for here, a shift in attitude through a shift in our attention.
The first winter I decided to start actively loving the season on purpose it snowed over a hundred inches. Every time it snowed I went out there and shoveled as if I were going to the gym. I noticed my attitude around posture and good form improved. I shoveled in “sets and repetitions.” I stretched. I drank extra fluids. I didn’t get angry, I got fit.

How much of our world are we powerless against? But we have infinitely creative minds. We use them all the time to insure our misery. What if we used our imagination to find a way to feel better? What might become of our “enemy” if we were to suddenly become disinterested in the battle? It sure is a lot easier on the sword.

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