Today is one of my favorite days of the year. We are on the other side of the shortest, darkest day, and mother nature is taking us on a journey toward ever increasing light. Slowly, I will notice the sun rising sooner and going down later. I will see this because I am on the look out for it, just like everything else.
Dark days bother me. I even have one of those ‘happy lights’ that I use on grey days. Light improves my overall mood and energy level and generally makes me ‘feel’ better. With that said though, I have a real respect for the fact that the dark is required in order to more fully appreciate the light. The same is obviously true for how we experience the ups and downs of our lives.
Think of a time when you were really scared. Perhaps you had some preliminary test results that indicated you might have some serious health issue. Or your company was implementing a “reduction in force” and you were concerned that you were going to be let go. During these times, our tendency is to catastrophize, coming up with all sorts of likely disastrous scenarios that end up with us dead or ruined. And then we find out we are actually going to be OK – healthy, employed, whatever. What happens then? We not only exhale, releasing the stress and worry we have been carrying with us, but all of the other ‘little’ issues don’t get the attention they once did. Our perspective, and resultant inclination to view our lives through a much brighter lens, has shifted because we spent that time in the dark.
Appreciating those difficult times in our lives is hard. When we are in the middle of something really challenging, our first thought is not to say, “Gee, I’m glad I’m experiencing this because it will improve my general view of life when it’s over.” All we really want is for it to go away. But most things get resolved in their own time and can rarely be sped up. The only choice we really have at these these moments is to decide how we want to be with it, in order for it to have a chance to be generative instead of destructive. Moving toward this way of experiencing difficult times takes practice, lots of it. But the more you do it, the more quickly you transition from that initial state of fear or anger, which is only draining you, to a more expansive view – one that includes affirmations about your strength and capability to come out on the other side more fully alive than when you started.