So, today is Blue Monday, so called because, according to various "experts" it's the day in the year we are most likely to feel utterly miserable due to a combination of factors (money, weather, broken New Year resolutions...more on those later).
I have taken issue with this because I feel quite indignant that I am being told how to feel and when. Clinical depression is a complicated and incredibly debilitating disease and one which extenuating circumstances often actually have nothing to do with and that's not what I'm discussing here. No, the debate that I want to get started is WHY we have to have "Blue Monday" at all? Why are we all being told when and why we should feel miserable? Surely, given the economic climate (we are now officially in the second, "double" dip of this recession) our angst (if indeed we HAVE to feel angst ridden) should be a bit more widespread, and perhaps not consolidated on the third Monday in January?
Personally though, I wonder whether we should be encouraged to wallow in Blue Monday or indeed any kind of misery at all?
Here's the thing: for some of us (and again, I am talking about those of us not afflicted by proper, clinical depression) life is a bit of a struggle at the moment: fiscally I don't know many people that aren't feeling the strain; I have many freelancer friends who haven't worked yet this year and are finding work thin on the ground (myself included!). The usual winter illnesses are doing the rounds and they'll bring anyone down. It's freezing cold out there, the warm, balmy days of early summer seem like a REALLY LONG WAY AWAY. Any kind of New Year drive, ambition and resolution may well have left the building but, BUT this is why I think in these challenging times we need to start forcing ourselves to start seeing our collective cups as half full to overflowing, as opposed to what we're being told to do: see them as half empty, or even smashed to smithereens with nothing left in them at all.
I have a friend who has the Smashed To Smithereens attitude all the time and I find it exhausting to be around. I often wonder if it wouldn't just be easier and NICER for her to smile a bit more, moan a bit less, perhaps to take joy in the small pockets of loveliness we find in our day to day lives: a smile from a stranger on the tube, the feel of winter sunshine on your face, a particularly GOOD cup of tea?
The 21st century and it's material obsession and overblown celebrity addiction has to shoulder a lot of the responsibility for us mere mortals feeling down in the dumps: it's impossible not to look at the myriad pictures of glossy haired, dewy-skinned celebrities at The Golden Globes and NOT feel a bit frustrated about the fact that we don't have bodies like that, lives like that, boyfriends like Brad Pitt.
However, I bet you any money that most of those glossy celebrities are a) bloody hungry and b) dealing with the kind of daily bullshit that would be the stuff of our nightmares. It's just that those celebrity lifestyle nuggets don't sell papers or gossip rags: we would rather (strangely, I think) read about how fabulous their lives are than concentrate on how amazing our own lives can sometimes be too.
Remember: life does not owe us anything, there isn't a memorandum that tells us when we are born that our lives are going to be bountiful and fabulous and that we should be bloody miserable if it doesn't turn out that way. Life is essentially, a long series of mundanities punctuated by the odd highlight. It's a biological accident that we are even here in the first place and we are luckier than we realise to be born in the developed world.
Yes, times are hard. Yes, we are all skint. Yes, we live in a country with more rain than most and yes, it's January and it's cold. You might have a cold, and you caved into a glass of wine and a curry last night hence ruining all your (so far successful) good intentions for 2012 but you know what my advice would be? ENJOY yourself. ENJOY that curry, after all what's the point in over indulging if every mouthful goes down with a spoonful of regret and self loathing? ENJOY the cold: wrap up warm, get out there and feel the winter sunshine on your pasty face and look up from your morning paper and smile at the stranger across the train from you...You never know, they might smile back ;)
HAPPY BLUE MONDAY!