Years ago I worked as a driver for a Government Minister. Picking him up at his house every morning I was the first person he saw each day. And each day the first words after “Good Morning Josh!” were something positive about the weather.
It started to get annoying.
Minus 40 degrees? “Less snow then yesterday!”
2 feet of snow? “At least it’s warmer than yesterday’s minus 40!”
Raining? “The farmer’s must be glad, it’s been so dry lately”.
37 degrees and humid? “Gotta soak up these days to get us through the winter!”
It wasn’t just me. Other coworkers would make comments. Didn’t this guy know we are Canadian? Complaining about the weather is at the core of our identity. Our nation was settled by a bunch of european idiots who landed in their ships and when the aboriginals were like “ya……there is gonna be 3 feet of snow and you’re going to die of scurvy”, responded by being like “Sweet! Let’s send for our vulnerable wives and children!”. Then they pretty much all died that winter and we’ve been complaining about the weather ever since.***
***There is a chance that this is not a 100% historically accurate interaction***
Anyhow. Complaining about the weather is as Canadian as hockey, politeness and thinking our humility makes us better than americans. (We apparently haven’t fully learned what irony is. But I digress)
Back to the matter at hand. What was with this guy? Why wouldn’t he complain like the rest of us? Then one day he told me. “Josh,” He said on one particularly gloomy day, “Accepting the weather is the first step to mental health.” He continued to share with me his life philosophy. See he had been all over the world, including war zones & political hotspots. He had seen friends gunned down in broad daylight. Narrowly missed being blown up in a terrorist plot. He knew that there are good days and bad days, great days and tragic days, and you can’t really predict them. BUT. Every day has weather. Moreover, the first thing you usually interact with each day is the weather. So he purposely chose to make the weather a constant positive in his life. Everyday would start with him being delightfully surprised that the weather was exactly what it was.
I remember a story that the well-known dutch missionary Brother Andrew used to tell. In Holland the saying isn’t “Got out on the the wrong side of the bed”, instead it’s “Getting out of bed on the wrong foot”. So Brother Andrew said he named one foot “Praise The Lord” and the other “Hallelujah”. That way he had no “wrong feet”.
It’s a similar choice. It’s saying, I’m going to start every day being grateful. Each morning I will choose to start by finding the positive, no matter how cold, rainy, snowy, or humid.
I am well aware that there are people who struggle with mental health issues completely out of their control and in no way am I suggesting that if they think more happy thoughts there problems will be solved. But for many of us who are simply too busy, too anxious about work, too worried about our finances, choosing to start the day off making a deposit in the account of positivity instead of negativity, truly can be the first step to mental health.