It is the middle of January in New England, yet it was a balmy 60 degrees the other day. Although this is a sure sign of climate change, I took advantage of the warming Earth and went walking with my dogs.
It was when I was walking my Bernese Mountain Dog, Darla, that I seemed to have a moment with myself. I suddenly felt the urge to stop in the middle of the road and close my eyes. I’m not sure if it was the sun beaming onto my face or the wind’s warm gusts, but in that moment, everything felt at peace.
As I stood there basking in the sunlight (somehow avoiding getting whacked by a car), I came to a realization. That moment felt so good, completely by comparison. As a New Englander in the colder months, you tend to forget that your fingers and toes aren’t supposed to be numb every time you step outside. Now, although this day did not at all encompass the definition of “perfect weather,” it was the drastic difference in temperature from its surroundings days that made it feel almost heavenly. To be short, I wouldn’t have literally stopped to notice this gorgeous day if I hadn’t been experiencing the colder ones before it.
Not to digress, but this all reminds me of how we react to a change in seasons. For example, at my university, we have this big, green quad in the middle of campus. Coming out of summer, once the weather starts dropping into the lowers 60’s, there is a significant change in student behavior. People start bundling up as if it’s freezing; boots are pulled out of dusty boxes, scarves become a staple accessory, and the quad’s crowdedness lessens with each passing day. However, coming out of the winter months, as the weather begins to slowly warm up again, people take every opportunity to be in the sun. The first day that it gets back up to 45 degrees, students can be found already sitting on the half-frozen grass doing their homework. It really is quite amusing.
To circle back, both this and my recent dog walking experience made me realize how relative our feelings and emotions are. If that past week had been entirely in the 70’s, that gorgeous dog-walking afternoon would not have stood out to me. In fact, it probably would have been the lesser of the days.
This sort of comparison is applicable to practically everything we feel. My point is that, sometimes, we need these lesser days in order to appreciate the better ones.
Now, I know what you’re thinking, this girl is annoyingly optimistic (or confusing, you never know when I go off on tangents). But hey, you’re not wrong! I always try to be a positive person. So, even though this perspective may be too much for some, I see nothing wrong with having a “glass half-full” mindset.
Humor me and think about it for one teeny, tiny second. If we only had good days, would we really recognize them as “good” if we knew of nothing else?
Similarly, (again, roll your eyes if you want) I do believe that having “off” mental health days just might be an important factor in the healing process. From personal experience, I can easily say that it not only makes the good days seem good, but it also helps to show that we are capable of improvement. During my happier moments, when I look back and see how far I have come, I am able to feel genuinely proud of my accomplishments. Likewise, during the darker days, I am calmed by the reminder that this feeling doesn’t last forever. It is the thought of all of my past, happy days that brings me comfort.
By sharing this point of view, no matter how short and scattered it may have been, I completely understand that many may disagree with it. Nonetheless, I am unbothered. I have found that this is the mindset that works for me, so why keep it to myself? Maybe it will work just as well for someone else who needs it.
After all, if we are only exposed to the good days, we may not be able to appreciate them as much anymore.