I have a confession to make…
I am afflicted with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
This horrible condition affects everyone I know is who not from upstate New York or Wisconsin.
The worst part is, there is no cure. The only solution is prevention, which requires you to move to any location where you can comfortably drink alcoholic beverages with tiny umbrellas year-round.
All kidding aside, everyone knows how depressing winter can be, which is why I was so happy yesterday when the temperature hit 70 degrees.
I wasn’t the only one enjoying the weather. I live in a yuppie part of Arlington, VA and when I was walking back from the gym, the beautiful people of Arlington were out and about, eating lunch on the patio at restaurants smart enough to build patios and drinking their bottomless mimosas.
My girlfriend and I met a few friends for lunch and were also able to partake in the yuppie tradition of overpriced patio food and drinks.
It felt wonderful.
The theme for this week’s spiritual exercises asks us to appreciate the wonders of God’s creation.
This week, we pray with our ancestors in faith as they marvel at the goodness and ongoing activity of God in creation. You may choose to make one or more of your prayer periods outside, soaking in the natural beauty of creation. Use all of your senses to experience the world. This week, as you walk the streets and go about your daily tasks, be attentive to the variety of God’s creations, especially in the people you encounter.
Much of my writing has been focused on dealing with negative feelings and emotions, so it’s nice to take the time to appreciate how good we have it sometimes.
I certainly appreciate beautiful weather even without adding God to the mix, but there is something pleasing and humbling in thinking that a divine being gave you the gift of beautiful weather so you can have a few moments of peace and happiness.
Humans have attributed their blessings to God for thousands of years. Yesterday’s exercise asked the reader to read Psalm 8 and think about how amazing human beings are. Here is a section of Psalm 8 that poetically praises God for this “amazingness.”
What is man that you are mindful of him
and a son of man that you care for him?
Yet you have made him little less than a god,*
crowned him with glory and honor.
You have given him rule over the works of your hands,
put all things at his feet:
All sheep and oxen,
even the beasts of the field,
The birds of the air, the fish of the sea,
and whatever swims the paths of the seas.
LORD, our Lord,
how awesome is your name through all the earth!
Modern research validates the benefits of gratitude, which include “optimism, well-being, and happiness.”
The Catholic Church (and most other religions) realized this long before Psychology Today, and made sure it was an integral part of its teachings.
The interesting thing is, I think it’s easier to feel gratitude towards someone. When someone does something kind for you, you feel grateful towards that’s person.
But when the weather is nice, who can you thank for that?
Intellectually, you know it’s just an effect of the earth’s rotation and its revolution around the sun and weather patterns and blah blah blah.
But, it’s hard to feel gratitude towards weather patterns.
By adding God to the equation, you give yourself someone to whom you can direct your thanks, making it less difficult to feel gratitude.
It may just be a mental “trick,” but it’s a good one.
The next time you’re enjoying your boozy brunch in 75-degree weather, consider taking a moment to attribute your good fortune to God. I think you’ll find that your mimosa tastes just a little better after that.