Here in Manchester and other parts of the UK, many of us have been in a state of deep disappointment for over a week now. Whilst most of the UK has been buried in inches of the white stuff, our little pocket protected by the Pennines, has escaped most of it. This has led to howls of dismay (not just from the kids) as sledges remain unused and snowmen un-built.
And yet, at last, we are told, snow is to finally reach us! Oh the excitement! Like the rest of the country, we too can gaze anxiously at the skies for the first flurries, pack extra food in our cars in case of blizzards and carry carrots in our pockets in case of the urgent need to construct a snow person overwhelms us.
Why do we get so excited about the snow? Snow is all we talk about when it arrives and the thrill and anticipation of 'snow days' is not just for the kids. Are our lives so boring that snow brings with it such a much needed change of pace? Well, frankly, yes!
As a psychologist specialising in boredom, I would say that our lives are generally routine, mundane and rather humdrum. For most people, it's the same old same old; the commute, the coffee picked up en route to work, the same dull meetings, the same routine work. Snow brings change, newness and a fresh take on the world. Travel is disrupted, meetings are cancelled and schools close early. This change to the daily grind refreshes our jaded minds as we see the world, literally, in a different way. It makes us take a step back from the routine and take time for once, to smell the coffee (and build a snowman). It gives us a topic of conversation other than spreadsheets and targets. This break-out from the routine affords us the chance to develop our creativity which the pressure of work can often stifle - so our work benefits when we return to it. And, most importantly perhaps, snow brings out our inner child.
Snow is the most natural substance (other, perhaps than sand) that is associated with childhood and so many of us find hard to resist reverting back to happier, more carefree days. A phenomenon called emotional memory means that associated with our memories are emotions - so that when we remember events, we also remember the emotions associated with them. Many of us have happy childhood memories of playing in the snow, so when we see those fat, fluffy flakes twirling from the sky, these memories kick in and we feel happy.
So, the moral of the snow story is, make the most of the Big Freeze (it won't last long) and benefit from the emotional boost it can give you. Unless, of course, you are snowed in, keep slipping over in the ice and your car keeps skidding dangerously across the road. In which case, fear not, the thaw is on its way....
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