Winter gets a bad rep, and for good reason. It’s cold, it’s dark, and it can get a little depressing. Lots of people suffer from mild depression in the winter, and they blame it on not getting enough vitamin D, or not being able to hit up the beach, or other various reasons.
And I’m not going to sit here and say that they don’t have legitimate reasons for feeling that way, I think we’ve all been there. Heck, where I’m from winter starts in October and ends in April.
I know a little something about the winter blues, but there’s something I’ve come to realize over the past few years and that is: It doesn’t matter what season it is when you’re happy.
I’ve started to look at winter in a different light. Instead of “How can I make winter less miserable?” I’ve shifted my thinking to “What makes me happy from the inside out?” You might notice that it has nothing to do with winter.
That’s because I believe that if you can look within yourself and figure out what makes you happy on a deeper level than ‘a beach day’ or ‘wearing your favorite pair of cut-offs’, then you might not even notice when the temperature starts to dip.
You’ve probably heard that age old saying “You can’t pour from an empty cup”. Well, what about the cup?
The cup isn’t happy when it’s empty. Before you ever worry about pouring out of it, you need to worry about the cup first. Is the cup in any condition to hold water in the first place?
I think a lot of people are under the impression that adopting self-care rituals, or “filling their cup” is the answer. I agree to a certain extent, but doing “self-care” without being happy first, is like pouring water into a leaky cup.
You can’t put a Band-Aid on your happiness.
And that’s why this post is not going to have tips and tricks to make winter less depressing. I’m not a magician.
Instead, it’s going to give you actionable steps to strengthen your inner happiness, so that the changing of seasons isn’t enough to break you.
Step 1: Find your passion
The first step in strengthening your happiness is figuring out what drives you, what makes you come alive.
There’s three ways you can go about finding your passion if you don’t already know what it is.
You can sit down and write out your hobbies, what you do for fun, or what you do in your spare time. Then figure out from there what really gives you life.
But this doesn’t work for everyone. If you don’t feel a fire for any of your hobbies, or if you don’t even know what your hobbies are, then try this instead.
Take a few minutes of quiet, uninterrupted time by yourself to think. Think about your “dream life”, you know, that one you daydream about while you’re stuck at your 9-5.
If money was no obstacle, what would you do?
Where would you live?
Who would you be with?
What would you do in your spare time?
Think long and hard about these things, and try to really dig deep and be honest with yourself.
“Being a millionaire” or “having lots of money” are not acceptable answers to these questions. I want to know what you would do with your life. Having lots of money doesn’t answer that question.
The third way is to get a little crafty. You could figure out your passions by making a dream board.
Gather magazines or scroll Pinterest and collect images that inspire you. You might think you want to start a nutrition business, but find that you’re drawn to fashion or travel more.
Please keep in mind, I’m not asking you to pick something that you need to turn into a career, it can just be something that you really love to do. Or it can be something that you would like to do for a living. Don’t judge your ideas, just let them flow.
Step 2: Set some goals
Once you figure out what drives you, pursue it!
This can be in the form of developing your hobby, or chasing a dream job. You decide what course of action you want to take.
If you decide your passion is yoga for example, you don’t need to become a yoga instructor and teach classes. Maybe you just want to further your skills so that you can master the intricate poses, or do the splits.
You won’t ever know what where a path will lead you until you start walking down it. Maybe after a few weeks of yoga, you learn you don’t really like it. Maybe you discover that you’re actually more interested in the spiritual and self-discovery side of yoga instead of the strength training aspect of it.
You might decide to learn more about the seven chakras, and how to connect with your spirituality. Then through that you might discover Reiki healing and decide to turn that passion into a business where you heal people with energy.
But how would you have ever know that taking that yoga class would lead you to a fulfilling Reiki career? You won’t know until you go down that path.
So, decide what your passion (or passions) are, then set some goals around them.
Maybe you decide your passion is photography, and your dream would be to have your own photography studio.
Write it down, and take it from dream to reality.
Making your dreams into goals make them real. In your mind, you take it from “that would be nice, but it’s totally unrealistic” to “I want it, and if I don’t stop until I get it, it’s a sure thing”.
So write it down. If you need help, check out the post I talk about how to set goals.
Step 3: Master Small Wins
Motivation is a funny thing. Most people think that it’s something that they can only get through outside incentives. But relying on outside motivators is a sure track to burn-out.
That’s because you’re relying on something other than yourself.
If you want to know the secret to self-motivation, get familiar with small wins.
Small wins are baby steps to your bigger goals. And they are crucial to keeping your eyes on the prize.
Small wins keep a steady steam into your cup, even throughout the darkest and coldest months of the year.
If your goal is to open your own photography studio but you don’t even own a camera or know the first thing about lighting or angles, then it might seem completely unrealistic.
But, if you break it down into small wins, you’ll keep up your momentum to hit that crazy goal you set.
Small wins for the photography studio might be taking a class, or buying a camera, or even getting a part time job to save up to buy the camera.
Find step one, and start there.
Once you’re working towards your dream, that thing that ignites your fire, no changing of seasons is going to get you down.
Being happy in the winter really comes down to being happy. PERIOD.
You need to find it within yourself, and learn how to keep that fire burning, even in the coldest and darkest days.
And hey, winter won’t seem so bad anymore 😉