By: Richard Ray
As someone who decided to have a residence in Miami based solely on the feelings from a past vacation in February that featured sunny skies and temperatures around 85, I should hardly act surprised at how significant a part the weather plays in our moods daily.
Yet, I was recently reminded after five straight days of nearly non-stop rain challenged my eternal optimism, at least for a few hours. I joke about the challenge to my optimism, but as someone who had to deal with the 30-45 minutes required to dry a 120 pound dog 3-4 times for 5 straight days, I definitely found myself seeking patience and relief. Luckily I know that the deluge of non-stop rain is both uncommon and temporary. I sit writing, looking at the sun for the first time while listening to a weather forecast that says to “Slow down son” because more rain is in the forecast for the next 5 days.
The temporary relief from the rain was all I needed to be reminded how much the warmth and sunshine makes me smile. In the northeast the winters can be depressing for many. The cold and dampness from November through March is matched by the perpetual grey skies and dark buildings. Add daylight savings and you are lucky to ever even see the sun for months, particularly if you work a 9-5 because the sunsets are generally around 4pm if it even makes an appearance at all.
That vacation many years ago, was an epiphany. One in which I realized that my happiness was, in part, dependent on the sun and warmth. It took a few years afterwards, but I was eventually able to position myself where I have essentially been able to avoid the harshness of winters for any significant length of time (meaning months on end).
I am one of the lucky ones. I realize that the majority of people, in the US and Europe at least, are held captive to cold temperatures for much of the year based on geography. Most of us are used to and tolerate the weather patterns in our areas. Generally speaking, people do not enjoy it being too hot or too cold. Most do not like excessive rain. There is no objective standard to perfect weather, but who does not like a sunny day, with high temperatures in the mid 70s to low 80s? I argue not many.
Bad, cold, dreary weather or a general lack of sunshine can have a profound effect on people’s mindsets. The weather can contribute to depression. It can contribute to weight gain. Extra layering of clothes are easy to hide behind and dark days combined with cold, rain, sleet and snow are the perfect excuses to ditch your gym routine. The same can be said for extreme heat. There are many combinations of weather patterns that can effect our activism. This in turn can effect our social lives and even relationships.
I am not blaming the weather on all of our woes. I am just stating that weather has a profound impact on our psyches and thus our lives. Great weather can effect our outlook in starting a day. Bad weather can do the same. Clearly the multi-billion dollar tourism industries for tropical climate destinations show how important a part weather plays in people’s pursuits of happiness. I am just thankful that I came to that realization to make sure my understanding of the weather’s impact on my own happiness was addressed.
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