There’s just no pleasing some people. In Alberta we were despairing of ever seeing the sun again or having the mercury climb higher than the mid-teens. Now, as we sizzle through the first few days of a forecasted prolonged heat wave, many of us are moaning about that.
Without air conditioning, the activities of daily living become more difficult. Yet again we dream about a retrofit system for next year.
In the meantime there are challenges, whether You’re indoors or out. Cooking becomes a bigger chore. Reaching for ice cream treats, tropical drinks, and beer adds pounds without nutrients. Using the oven is lunacy. Sleep is disturbed and fitful. Heat and humidity sap energy and wreck havoc with hairdos. Careless application of sunscreen is revealed through painful lobster-red designs across bodies. Warnings about melanoma multiply.
Staying hydrated is a challenge. Heatstroke is a possibility. Abrupt changes from sweltering outside temps to icy air-conditioned stores or cars can adversely affect the body as well.
Why are we so perverse? Why do we want the opposite of what we have? Beats me, but It’s true in more than just matters of weather. We want curly hair when God made ours poker-straight. We want to be shorter or taller than we are. Maybe our self-loathing extends to skin colour and ethnicity. We hate our freckles, wide hips, legs, boobs. We want to be more or less than we are.
A compelling video showing a forensic artist sketching women’s faces based on self-description is the latest attempt by Dove to get us to realign our thinking and redefine beauty. It’s just one more reminder that joy is in acceptance.
Cultivating an attitude of gratitude à la Oprah Winfrey is another. Seeking and cherishing moments of happiness?big and small?is the message of books like Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project or Neil Pasricha’s The Book of Awesome.
Together these small acts of awareness and attitude adjustment can make the difference between a life of mini-moments of peace and joy and an existence of petty irritation and discontented yearning.
So the next time we’re tempted to complain about our lopsided ledger sheet (either at the bank or the big life one), we need to stop a moment and reassess. Is there truly anyone in the world we’d want to trade places with? Is there a life worth living that doesn’t include some heat waves and ice storms, some losses and wins, some setbacks and lucky breaks?
Will complaining about the temperature or our wrinkles change either one? Or should we count our blessings that we haven’t succumbed to the tornadoes, floods, tsunamis, and killer heat waves devastating some places? Is a long life of wrinkles preferable to a life cut short by disease or tragedy?
Today I choose happiness and acceptance of what is?hot, cold, imperfect, cellulite, fleeting. Because too soon it’ll all be gone, from where I sit.
Hazel Anaka’s first novel is Lucky Dog. Visit her website for more information or follow her on Twitter @anakawrites.