Winter Blues? Time to Feed Your Dreams!

Good morning! I hope your day is off to a great start.

I was watching the news a few weeks ago, and they were talking about a rather odd challenge in south Florida. The local residents were being warned to watch overhead for iguanas falling out of the sky. Okay, out of trees, but when one of them hits you on the head, it doesn’t really matter where it started. You scream like a girl and run. Just me???

The problem is that iguanas are cold-blooded, and when outside temperatures get too cold, they go into a type of coma. Being tree-dwellers by nature, that’s where they go to get cold. And, not that I can speak from personal experience, but it’s a little hard to maintain a grip on tree limbs when you’re unconscious. Hence, the falling lizards.

Winter seems to have that effect on a lot of us. Okay, we’re warm-blooded so we don’t go into a coma. We just complain so much everybody wishes we would. Of all the things that can trigger a state of depression, weather ranks pretty high on the list. We may not fall out of trees, but we can certainly fall off our pedestal of nirvana. You have one of those, right?

Whether it’s too much heat, too much cold, too much rain, too much snow, or too much of whatever makes you unhappy at the moment, it gets old fast. Continual discomfort, of any kind, makes it a little hard to smile. Next thing you know, you’re biting the waiter’s head off for seating you under an air vent.

Depression affects us in a lot of ways. One of the more subtle symptoms is that it tends to wipe out our ability to dream. Oh, don’t get me wrong. People who are cold have no problem dreaming of someplace warm. But those dreams don’t usually involve exotic places like Tahiti. There’s a point where a heated barn looks good.

If you’ve ever seen Maslow’s Pyramid, it’s a pretty accurate depiction of the hierarchy of human needs. Down at the bottom you have basic survival. Take away oxygen, and nobody cares much about the stock market. Their needs immediately drop to the bottom of the pyramid. But as we climb out of that level, we find ourselves looking to increasingly self-serving interests.

Don’t take that one wrong. Self-serving, in this instance, doesn’t mean we don’t care about anybody around us. It just means we’re trying to enjoy a life that makes us feel worthy and fulfilled. And until we climb above all the lower-level minutiae that seems to consume our energy, we’ll never reach the top of the pyramid.

So, where does physical comfort fall in the hierarchy? Somewhere a little below our dreams. And if you buy into Maslow’s theory that we can never climb the pyramid until we resolve any issues at the foundational levels, it’s not hard to understand why we suffer what’s known as the winter blues. It’s not that we’re cold. It’s that we’re so cold nothing else matters.

Ask a person in the winter what they dream of, and they can probably tell you about a resort city somewhere in the tropics. But it’s not really a dream at that point – it’s a wish. Ask the same question in the springtime, when we’re not house-bound in the freezing cold, and they can get excited about it. Why? Because it feels a little more real.

Dreaming isn’t just letting our mind wander to faraway places and a life that’s somehow better than our own. That’s daydreaming. And while that’s a healthy escape from the stresses of the day, it’s not the kind of dreaming that leads to anything other than mindless thought. Dreaming – real dreaming that leads us to action, is a more deliberate process.

It’s not enough to just think about it. You have to visualize it. You have to see yourself in the dream, complete with all the sounds, tastes, and smells that let you know it’s real. Get pictures and put them where you’ll see them several times a day. Pick a place that goes with the dream. Got a picture of Tahiti? Put it on the wall next to the thermostat.

What kind of food and drinks would you enjoy in that tropical resort? You know, you can have them at home if you want. It’s legal. When I eat seafood, rum cake, or Key Lime pie, I’m not just thinking about the islands – I’m there. Can’t fake yourself out with food? Try some suntan lotion. Yes, indoors. In the winter. I dare you to smell that all day without thinking of the beach.

Nothing fights depression like dreams, but you have to feed your dreams to keep them alive. How you feed them is up to you – just do it. Don’t leave it to chance, and don’t wait for summer. Feed your dreams now, and you won’t be able to contain them later.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2021 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

News Is Like Horseradish – A Little Bit Goes A Long Way

Good morning! I hope your day is off to a great start.

For those who have been missing these posts, you’re right – it’s been at least a few weeks. I didn’t plan on taking a vacation from my morning musings. It just worked out that way. If you haven’t missed me at all … well, I don’t know how to respond to that. But even with the best of friends, you sometimes wish they’d go home for a while. I get it.

Several things have been going on, and I just didn’t feel that I would be able to give my best. So, I decided to ride it out. The danger in that is that it becomes a habit. Miss one day and it’s easy to jump back in. Do it a few times, and the excuses start to multiply. After a while, it’s like dieting and exercise. The best of intentions take a back seat to whatever excuses may arise.

Another problem is that I’ve been my own worst patient when it comes to positive thinking. I’ve allowed events of the day to consume my mind to the point that all I was seeing was negativity. It’s not hard to do with 24-hour news and social media to fuel the fire. And let’s be honest – we are seeing some of the worst in humanity right now in people’s responses to genuine issues.

Part of the problem is that people are so desperate to cling to their views, everything becomes a matter of choosing sides. There is no middle ground anymore. You’re either one of us or one of them. And I’ve been guilty of that myself. There is a point where you just can’t stretch your own values far enough to accept some of what you see in others.

It’s normal to feel that way. Not healthy, and not constructive. Just normal. It’s also normal to become intoxicated when you drink too much and it’s natural to do things you normally wouldn’t when you’re a little inebriated. That doesn’t make it a good thing – just a natural consequence of intentional behavior. And it’s no surprise when it happens. We expect it.

Well, the natural consequence of ingesting too much negative news is bitterness and depression. It shouldn’t have surprised me, but it did. It hit me right in the face when I started to lose my temper talking with a customer service rep about satellite radio service. I told my dad later, “I never get upset like that!” The look on my wife’s face said it all. Apparently, I do.

So, I had to do a little soul-searching and get back to the basics. Seems we do that a lot, whether it’s in our career, relationships, health, or just about anything. Because the “basics” are the foundation on which everything else is built. If you lose that, it all comes crumbling down. And the basics are pretty simple – surround yourself with positive input and limit the negative.

I’m on the road to recovery, but it’ll take time to get back where I need to be. Time and effort. It doesn’t happen by coincidence, or because God decided to bless you with happiness. You have to seek it out. You have to be more than just a willing recipient – you have to reach for it and embrace it. You have to make it more a part of your life than any amount of unhappiness.

Maybe today is a good day to do a self-assessment. Are you moving in the right direction, or could you use a little course correction? The sooner you make the necessary changes, the less time it’ll take to get back on track. Happiness is not a tangible thing – it’s a frame of mind. And it’s always out there, waiting to be enjoyed. Best of all, it’s free. All you have to do is decide how much you want.

That’s all for now. Feed on the positive and step over the negative. It’s that easy. Have an awesome day!

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved