It should be spring; there should be muddy roads and bare spots however it is still cold and white. The dead of winter is like living with a cold-hearted woman who tries to hide the fact. By late February, the sun stays later which creates a portion of winter in which that same cold-hearted woman doesn’t care that she’s cold. It’s hard to be cheerful and happy.
First off, the topic of happiness came up on Facebook recently and inspired this column. I would like to plagiarize from myself to the tune of a few sentences. First off, I think this time of the year is a particularly gloomy period. Self-reflection is always a good thing but at a time when people naturally swing towards a little depression perhaps self-reflection can take a hiatus. Judging our level of happiness should be done on a sliding scale. We should take into account the limited amount of daylight, lack of exercise and the inability for some to be outdoors and productive. In others words, winter is the shallow end of the happiness pool so don’t try diving off the high board.
I have found projects to be a good way to hack through the season of cabin fever. I used to latch hook as a youth and now I build stuff out in the shop. Work is another good way to recruit good endorphins; whether that means working with the cattle or walking to nowhere on a treadmill. I didn’t keep cattle through the winter and felt a little lost without their need for attention. I think I will get back in the game when prices go down in a few years. Busy hands easily crush gloom and boredom.
My faith helps me get through the winter. When my dad and brother died, I lost two good sets of ears who had common experiences and could knowledgeably talk cattle, balers and frozen cattle waterers. I often times now talk to God about my problems and even some of the stuff I used to tell Steve and dad. As a youth, I remember Hannah Halvorson raising the roof from the south side section of the Zion Lutheran Church in Viking when she would hit the high notes on “Take it to the Lord in Prayer.” She must have known hard times in a life that included several wars and the Depression yet she never seemed depressed. I guess when she sang “take it to the lord in prayer” she must have been trying to not only praise God but push that message into my young ears and the hearts of those around me.
Finally, like most things, happiness is a decision. We enjoy free will yet we don’t always have the courage to take responsibility for our own will and look to others to make us happy. Worse yet, we sometimes blame others for our unhappiness. I try to please three people in my life; my God, my wife and my boss-all others need not apply-however, no one effects my happiness. I make that decision and I think people sometimes forget that happiness, or more accurately-joy, is within their own control.
The sun is getting stronger and we will soon be cutting grass. If you have been sad lately I hope that you find some happiness in your life. Happiness is a patient beast and typically has been there all along waiting for you to find it.