Finding happiness… even when the sun doesn’t shine

norway children copy

One of my nephews married a Norwegian girl and their family now resides in Norway. It seems the Norwegians believe it is important for children to be taken outside every day, even as infants. Despite the cold, Norwegians feel it is necessary to expose their children to all types of weather rather than protect them by keeping them inside except for clear and warm days.

My initial thought was they believed the cold helped build a tolerance for extremes in weather. I didn’t really understand there was a more important reason until I read the following quote:

“Encouraging a child to go outside in all weather builds resilience, but more importantly, it saves them from spending their life merely tolerating the ‘bad’ days in favor of a handful of ‘good’ ones – a life of endless expectations and conditions where happiness hinges on sunshine.”                                                    – Nicolette Sowder –

I recall that, as a child, I rarely stayed inside because of the cold or bad weather. My siblings and I walked to school (I can’t recall a single day through elementary school that I was driven to school) and played outdoors nearly every day of the year. When it was cold, we bundled up. When it rained, we enjoyed the puddles and mud. When it was hot, we removed our shirts and wore shorts. I’m not sure my childhood built resilience, but it certainly did not give us easy excuses.

Today, it seems, children suffer from overexposure of a different kind. Over-protection by parents, grandparents, teachers, and others promotes a view that we can take a mulligan when the conditions aren’t perfect. If we don’t like our boss, we don’t have to do our best on the job. If we don’t like the work, we can simply quit and stay at home. If my teacher is unreasonable, my parents will fix it. If we aren’t promoted within the first year, we quit and find a new job. We have become individuals that thrive in sunshine, but avoid bad weather. Our happiness has become dependent upon how much sunshine we experience in life.

Someone once said:

“A good day is not determined by what happens to us, but by how we react to the events of the day.”                                   – Unknown –

 

Resilience is the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties. It is toughness. How much toughness do you exhibit? Are you one that can quickly move on from disappointments? Are you known as someone that will get the job done regardless of the barriers or challenges you face? We can’t allow the amount of “sunshine in our lives” to define whether we are a good employee, a good parent, a good spouse, or a good friend. We must develop the skill (or whatever attribute or ability you want to call it) to be focused and not easily distracted by challenges or inconveniences.

In Oslo, the average number of hours annually with sunshine is 1668. That number is undoubtedly impacted by Norway’s latitude. Marseille, France experiences 2858 hours per year of sunshine. In the USA, Phoenix leads the way with 3872 hours of sunshine per year…nearly 2.5 times that of Oslo. Where I live, the average is 2594 hours annually… well below Phoenix, but still over 60% more than Oslo. So, do you think the people of Norway allow the lack of sunshine to impact their happiness? In fact, studies year-after-year rank Norwegians as some of the happiest people on earth. They are unaffected by their lack of sunshine. Perhaps, Sowder is right. Perhaps, we need to learn that attitude is a choice nurtured by how well we have learned to tolerate adversity. Things might not always go our way, but we can choose to thrive in any circumstance, not merely stay inside to avoid discomfort.

 

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