As the cooler months approach, I find myself seeking out cozy indulgences more and more: hot baths, warm blankets, fresh soups, new reads, soft scarves. Building my winter nest gives me a greater appreciation for this time of year as I gradually grow accustomed to the shortened daylight hours and bitter cold evenings.
The winter season evokes a sense of non-urgency that strongly contrasts with the frenzy ushered in by the holidays that accompany it. On the one hand, we freely give into the lethargy that has become synonymous with this time of year while on the other, we fight to resist the rushing around and familiar pressures it brings.
Where do we find a balance?
In between cookie exchanges and ugly sweater parties, New Year’s countdowns and flight delays, we have the chance to slow down: to examine our daily routines and start experimenting with the changes we’ve long thought about making but not yet enacted.
Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant. – Robert Louis Stevenson
It’s natural to judge our lives by what we gain from them. Many of us rate our level of success on our accomplishments: procuring a stable job, buying a home, or starting a family to name but a few. We may rely on even simpler victories to measure how we’re faring: getting out the door on time, working out each day, and keeping our living space tidy.
Early on we’re taught to pursue a life of fulfillment. For some of us this may be through the cultivation of meaningful relationships or the engagement of a much-loved hobby. For others, fulfillment is sought through elevated social status, material wealth, or workplace promotions.
Go ahead, you deserve it
How many times have you heard the phrase, “Go ahead, you deserve it”? Maybe after an especially satisfying workout, you tell yourself that you deserve a milkshake, or after a long day of work, that you deserve to put your feet up. Maybe you’re hard on yourself because you believe you deserve to punish yourself for a mistake you made weeks ago and still regret.
So much of how we treat ourselves and interpret our lives’ events can be caught up in what we think we do and don’t deserve. Unfortunately, our experiences don’t always align with these elementary notions of fairness or worthiness.
There’s a beautiful practice I want to introduce today: writing yourself a letter. I learned about it a few years ago and it’s stuck with me ever since. If it sounds silly or strange, I encourage you to keep reading. You don’t have to be an eloquent wordsmith or an experienced writer. All you need is a little motivation, a blank slate, and an open mind.