An article by Dr. Heidi Lepper, Ph.D.

Why Be as Variable as the Weather?

On a Wonderfully Constant and Yes Cold and Snowy Day, February 10, 2010!

Download and Print my 'Smile' Article (PDF)

Have you ever let your day be ruined by cruddy weather? Or felt higher than a kite because of an 85 degree perfect day? Or perhaps lament after listening to the weather forecast?

The most amazing thing about the weather is that you have absolutely no control over it. You do however control how you respond to it. You have the choice at any given moment to deal with the weather, no matter what it is, in a negative or more positive way. You have the choice to go outside and be a part of life no matter the weather outside (okay, severe, dangerous storms are an exception.) Or, you choose to remain indoors begrudging the seasonal process and the locale in which you live.

I mean, why even complain about the weather? You have no control over it. And complaining does nothing but make you feel cruddy while, more importantly, bringing everyone else around you down. Talk about something else! You indeed can bring down others or be brought down by others due to the weather forecast when you focus on it. But why? Do you really truly want to have a cruddy day? No.

Now on paper you know which choice you would rather make: You would always choose a good, positive and happy day rather than a cruddy one! But how do you do that?

Stop Talking About the Weather
No matter where you live the weather is a topic of conversation, in warm or cold climates, it does not matter, the weather is discussed and discussed daily. And weather is relative, even those in warm climates live more like it is winter in wintertime for indeed the sun does set earlier and the days do feel colder to them. They become less accustomed to even minor variations in the weather. While they do not contend with snow nor heavy coats and the need for mittens and the like, they still feel it to be winter.

So train yourself to steer clear of weather discussions if those discussions are going to fuel negative thinking. On a bright and beautiful day, certainly remark how glorious it is, but otherwise train yourself to keep quiet. Change the discussion topic. Ask about something else, such as a new recipe to make, how the Saints are faring, which way the whales migrate. Anything but the weather!

Put a Pencil In It!
In between your teeth that is. Force yourself to smile! Since Darwin first identified notions of 'facial feedback', a small collective of emotion researchers and positive psychologists have known for years that feigning a smile can make one feel better, more positive in a matter of several minutes. So keep a pencil tucked behind your ear, on your dashboard, next to your kitchen sponges. Practice putting a pencil in between your teeth, much as a romantic might a rose, and keep your lips up and off the pencil. It works! And yes, you will feel silly, that is partly the point. But remembering this when the weather is gray and winter is long is going to help you reframe the weather and to stop giving it so much weight!

Now not that kind of whoopee! Though that will work too to get your mind off the weather. But what I mean is find a way to laugh every day. And I mean silly laugh! Ridiculous laughing. Go buy a whoopee cushion and remember what it was like to be 8. Good humor is vastly important, it is attractive in others and people find it attractive within us when we show it.

When we find a connection with others we seem distracted by the weather outside. Now while whoopee farting will always make me laugh, it may not be your flavor (my brother just rolls his eyes!). But you have something silly so go find it! Use it!

Live for Today
Do you really have any other choice? We get sick if we don't. If we don't, we bring others down. We fail to smile at our kids. We get cranky with our co-workers. We rue the dreary, cold, snowy weather.

Many of you may know who Steven Covey is. He once said: "Between stimulus and response, one has the freedom to choose." So between stimulus (another bad weather day) and response (Oh, gosh, why? Why do I live here? This is horrible!) is the freedom to choose. You do not have to make the choice of others and be brought down by the weather. You can choose to maintain a constancy of style and thinking that remain truly independent of the weather and your community's response to it.

How do I know? Because I speak from experience. I grew up on the beaches of southern California and never even saw snow until I was 26,. Yet, I had my children in the Midwestern United States and, by gawd, I now live in Russia! But I choose to remain light and positive in spirit. So, people frequently remark that I bring light into their gray days. I refuse to talk about the weather because it is irrelevant. It is just weather (frozen water due to a tilting away from the sun). You cannot control it, so why let it control you? I can honestly say I have trained myself to not let it impact me. Sure I dress accordingly and am mindful of powerful storms, but I don't let it dictate my mood.

I use a pencil in between my teeth to feign a smile when I have to. I exercise outdoors despite it. And currently I have a whoopee cushion under my knee because it is snowing and it is not yet November! I choose to be positive and in a great mood today! I hope you find a way, like me to not be as variable as the weather!

Download and Print my 'Smile' Article (PDF)

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