I recently took a trip to Texas. Texas in July is hot. Like 100 degrees hot. Which is hot, but not unbearable.
After spending a month in Alberta, the change in temperature was pretty intense.
I know you’re thinking, “Why the fuck are you blogging about the weather?”
Just wait a moment, we’re going somewhere.
So I’m down in Texas sweating like a Manatee, and when I’m complaining about the weather in ever other conversation.
“God it’s hot” “It’s hot as hell” “It’s hot as balls.”
A few days before, it Alberta it was about half as hot. Like 40 something degrees, which, in the summer is pretty damn cold. It had been raining a lot. It had come close to snowing. And people all around were complaining about the weather.
“Man, it’s cold” “Why is it so rainy” “I wish it were hot.”
When you have such an extreme change in environment, it makes you consider how dumb it is to complain about the weather. It’s beyond your control. No matter how shitty it is, telling people about it isn’t going to do anything.
But the thing that struck me was how I went from feeling frustrated by the cold, to frustrated by the heat over the course of a day. It was a good reminder that I can work on my instincts.
Optimalism vs. Perfectionism
In his book “The Pursuit of Perfect” Tal Ben-Shahar outlines two ends of a spectrum of people. The optimalist vs. The perfectionist. The optimalist is happy with good enough and focuses on the good in a situation. The perfectionist is more of a pessimist. She sees what is missing as opposed to what is there.
Complaining about the weather is the perfect example of this divide.
After suffering through cold weather, the hot weather appears, and it is too hot. And after suffering through a scorching summer winter arrives and people complain about the cold. Instead of appreciating what is great about the current situation, we focus on what isn’t ideal about the current situation.
Compared to your ideal, 100 degrees is too hot; Compared to your ideal 50 degrees is too cold.
And when you walk around comparing everything to your ideal you are going to be disappointed; over and over again.
It’s easy to recognize this on an intellectual level. To understand conceptually that you are doing this and you’d like to change it. But how do you change your instincts so that the first thing you notice is what you’ve got, and not what you’re missing?
I don’t actually know.
I’ve been working for two years. Meditating and journaling. Writing about what I’m grateful for most days.
But when my life is chaotic I revert to the way that I’ve always been.
Changing your instincts is not as quick as understanding. It’s not as easy as switching from one to the other. It takes time. It takes mental energy to be aware of your thoughts. It takes mental space to see the patterns your thinking takes. It is simple, but hard.
The first step is to start appreciating, though. To notice how ridiculous it is to be complaining about the weather. To start accepting things that are outside of your control.