Lifestyle, Mental Health, Self-Improvement

Finding Joy in Your Off Season

So, I will be the first to admit that summer is actually my least favorite season, and as we now stretch into August I am almost desperate for cooler weather, turning leaves, and my fall wardrobe. My northern blood does not thrive in southern heat. I feel also like there is less structure to my schedule in the summer, and there is more pressure to socialize and make plans and yet it seems nearly impossible to coordinate as everyone is going on vacations and taking trips of their own. So I typically spend the summer months feeling physically oppressed by the heat and mentally oppressed by chaotic scheduling. Perhaps one day I will learn to take it all in stride, but that day has not yet come.

That’s not to say that there aren’t things that I inherently appreciate about summer. The extra daylight is certainly nice, as are festivities like the Fourth of July and cookouts and days on the lake. This is the first year that I have had an opportunity to belong to a community pool, and I’ve enjoyed many days in the water with my nieces and nephews and for the first time in my life have a decent tan.

Like everything, there are upsides and downsides to every season. But the thing is, we get to choose which perspective we focus on and we can cultivate that mood which might not occur to us naturally. However, we do have to be careful, because it really does work in both directions. I could easily focus on all the things I dislike about summer, could groan and think longingly of when the first cool autumn days will start. But that’s several months of my life where I would be ACTIVELY making myself more miserable than necessary. Summer doesn’t last forever. Time will pass regardless of my feelings about it.

One of the things that has really helped get me over my distaste of summer is my fiancé’s absolute joy in it. Whereas I am very much a cold weather girl, he is a hot weather boy. And at least in our relationship, these opposite tendencies have proven complementary. Instead of thinking about how miserable I am in the heat, I think about how much he is enjoying it. His joy brings me joy. We might still both tease each other about our differing preferences, but hopefully we are also helping each other to grow and become more well-rounded in those different appreciations, rather than just spoiling the others’ enjoyment.

As time both creeps and rushes towards our wedding day, it’s often difficult to know how to process all that is going on. There is an eagerness for the future, but a sweetness to the present that we don’t always take time to recognize. And that is true of every stage and every moment of life. It’s true every summer and winter. It’s true as we anticipate big life events and it’s true as those events have come and gone. Time doesn’t slow down or speed up or stop, it just marches on. How do we appreciate these moments while we are actively living them?

Are there seasons or experiences that you dread or just wish that you could pass by? Are there ways that you can learn to appreciate them or at least take lessons from them? How do you cope during those times when you know you aren’t going to necessarily thrive?

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