THE GURU NEXT DOOR
I love saying goodbye to summer at the Jersey Shore. I discovered a few years ago that right after Labor Day, they drop their prices drastically at The Breakers, my favorite hotel right on the ocean in Spring Lake. We made our reservations back in May, imagining spending the waning days of summer enjoying the things we love to do – walking on the beach, flying kites, fishing, kayaking, and maybe even swimming if the temperature held.
The week before, we began checking the weather forecast. It started out sunny with some clouds. Then cloudy with some sun. Then 30 percent chance of rain ... 40 percent ... 60 percent. Each weather service had a different forecast and they seemed to change hourly.
We even started playing them against each other, cruising through them until we found the best one. Weather.com, Accuweather.com, Weather.cnn.com – who has the best forecast? I'm sticking with them!What were we looking for? Yes, we were trying to predict what to pack, what activities to plan for what days, perhaps even whether we would cancel altogether. But then we realized we were trying to predict whether we would have fun. Did 60 percent chance of rain mean 60 percent chance of fun? And did 60 percent chance of fun mean 60 percent chance of being happy?
The answer to that question was the deciding factor. The weather had absolutely nothing to do with it. We decided that no matter what, we were going to have a great time. In other words, we didn't believe the weather would have any effect on whether we were going to enjoy ourselves. And so it was. No forecasts needed. We had some sun; we had some clouds; then we had some more clouds, and then we had a mini-monsoon. And we had the best time ever.
There was nothing we could do about the weather forecast, but we could definitely forecast our state of mind.
With the autumnal equinox coming in less than ten days, it's the perfect time to think about how our state of mind is, or isn't, affected by the weather. The changing of the seasons is one of those times when people tend to forecast how they are going to be feeling in the months ahead.
How we approach the changing of the seasons has something to do with expectations about the weather and the activities that each season brings. But the key factor in how we feel about it is what we believe the effect will be on us – good, bad or indifferent. There are lots of resources out there to tell us the long-range forecast for fall (wet according to the Farmer's Almanac). There is only one source for your personal happiness – you! What's your fall forecast?
We'll always have Memorial Day
"How was your summer?" I hear this question a lot these days. Have you ever noticed how generally people don't ask, "How was your fall?" "How was your spring?" Or "winter?" We don't all love summer, but for a lot of us, summer represents a special time. We have ideas of what the perfect summer is supposed to be – a time for going on vacations, kicking back, enjoying the outdoors and those long sunlit days.
We light up inside around Memorial Day just thinking about the good time we're going to have and how good we're going to feel. We're already happy and nothing has even happened yet.
Sometimes the actuality of summer meets our expectations and sometimes it doesn't. This year the ingredients we tend to believe we need for a summer high were a bit elusive. Between the economy and the weather, many of us had to make major adjustments in our plans.
Did your summer meet your expectations? Did it work out the way you believed it would? Did you do the things you wanted to do? Did you enjoy yourself the way you thought you would? Did your Memorial Day expectations come true? And if they didn't, how did you feel about it?
Even if things didn't pan out as you would have wished, what if we never have to give up that Memorial Day feeling? That delicious expectant feeling. We expected to be happy because we believed we would be. By believing we would be happy in the future, we were already happy. And regardless of how circumstances may change, we never have to stop believing that. It's completely up to us.
What's your fall happiness forecast?
I personally love the fall and I know a lot of people who do. But I often hear a distinct lack of enthusiasm about the coming cold months, the shorter days, what seems to some like a long dark tunnel until we can enjoy the spring and summer again.
What are you expecting for the fall? What are you looking forward to? What are you dreading? What's your forecast for your state of well-being and happiness? How do you feel now thinking about the fall ahead and the winter beyond that?
When it comes right down to it, what do you want your fall to be? If you're already cringing at the thought of it, now is a great time to take stock of all the things you are expecting to feel bad about in any way and find out why. Your expectations are based on believing you will have to feel a certain way under certain circumstances. What if that's not the case?
For example, if you always feel down in the dumps when the days get shorter, you may expect to feel that way again. Find out why you expect that. What exactly do you believe is causing you to feel that way? Do you still believe it? Do you think you have to believe it? Why? You can relieve yourself of the burden of expecting to feel bad and completely change the way you feel about the coming months. There are certain things about the seasons that we can't change, but we can certainly change how we respond to them.
Have the best fall ever!