Today is Blue Monday, the Monday which is supposed to be the most depressing of the entire year to come. Several years ago, the third Monday of January was decided upon for this dubious honour, after taking into account the weather and the time still to wait for spring, the time since Christmas and the debt we may have accumulated over the festive period, as well as – for many of us – having had long enough to have given up on our New Year resolutions. But as I wrote in a recent post, we can resolve on positive change at any time of the year, so we can start anew at any time that suits us – and spring is often a great time for doing just that, when we have the whole of nature joining with us!
And as for the weather, well it is snowy and cold, but it IS January, and it could be a lot worse! I am definitely in the wrong country for year-round blue skies, but I like the variety of the weather through the seasons, which is often echoed in our own mental states. It isn’t all that realistic to expect to be happy all the time, and in fact our pursuit of happiness may be what causes us the most distress. We try to hold on to the things which we perceive as making us happy, whilst pushing away those things which make us miserable. But to experience true moments of joy, we need to embrace all aspects of our lives, not just those we label as ‘good’. We have to have winter as well as summer, we need Mondays to follow the weekends, and life cannot be one long holiday for the vast majority of us. And so true happiness involves acceptance and an ability to flow through the seasons as well as allowing our feelings to come and go without trying to hold on to the moments of happiness. In ‘The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking’, journalist Oliver Burkeman questions the validity of happiness as a goal, being as chasing after happiness can make us so unhappy. This insight is fundamental to the practice of both yoga and Buddhism, and perhaps we would find happiness easier to achieve if we practised acceptance of all our states of mind, of all the events of our lives, not just those we label as good, but of those we might initially consider ‘bad’ as well. We would likely achieve a more balanced and calmer mind, and that in itself can lead to greater contentment with our lives.