Greetings on this beautiful day!
It’s very windy but weirdly warm and muggy here on this winters’ day. The sunrise over the French Pyrenees this morning was incredibly wonderful with an orange glow lighting up the clouds and highlighting the snow on the mountains below. To say that it was inspiring is an understatement. What’s it doing in your part of the world? I will definitely be getting out on my mountain bike today. It will be challenging because there is a lot of surface water from the rain of recent days. Yet there’s no harm in that, a challenge always has solutions; all it takes is a little adjustment.
The weather and the challenges it presents are fresh in my mind right now and particularly the language we use to describe certain meteorological events. Oh, how they can pull us down into depths of despair if we allow it.
For centuries, people thought that words were simply labels people applied to the description of objects, and that different languages merely attached different strings of sounds to things or, more accurately, to concepts. It has been suggested by linguists that the world might be perceived differently by people speaking different languages. Or, more fundamentally, that people only perceive aspects of the world for which their languages have words.
Color perception is a great example. Depending on the wavelengths of light, color distributes continuously and it is perceived categorically. Did you know that the number of basic terms for colors is far smaller than the number of color tones human beings can perceive? Also, this number differs from one language to another. For instance, Russian has 12 basic terms for colors, and Dani, a language spoken in New Guinea, has only two: mili (cold colors) and mola (warm colors). In Namibia the Himba tribe, speaks a language that has no word for blue or distinction between blue and green as far as researchers understand.
Researchers also found that the Dani people of New Guinea are able to distinguish among different color tones (like red, yellow, and orange) despite labeling them identically (mola). They also found that people distinguish better between two color tones that are named differently (for instance, blue and green). Because different languages frame the continuum of color in different ways, people speaking different languages are expected to focus differently regarding color perception.
Regarding language, this effect of framing or filtering comes from perception and thought. Languages do not limit our ability to perceive the world or to think about the world. They focus our perception, attention, and thought on specific aspects of the world. This can be useful in some senses, but it can also lead us down negative thought paths and our thoughts can affect the way we relate and respond to everything. In some people, their mental health can be adversely affected by perceptions of the weather.
Climate Challenges Health
“Mental health encompasses emotional, psychological, behavioral, and social well being. It determines how people cope with the normal stress of life and function within their community. Mental illness, on the other hand, adversely affects one’s
thinking, feelings, and/or behaviors. As a result, it can lead to difficulties in functioning. Climate change can cause and intensify stress and anxiety, adversely affecting mental health. For example, events such as extreme storms or extreme heat can lead to depression, anger, and even violence. Everyone is at risk, but not everyone is affected equally. Groups that are especially vulnerable to the mental health impacts of climate change include children, the elderly, and women. Also, at risk are disadvantaged groups, those with existing mental illness, and those with close ties to the land, including farmers and tribal communities”.
I live in the Aude region of France where the wind has very specific names depending on the direction and time of year. Not long after I came to live here, a senior member of the community told me how the wind in the area has been known to “send people mad”. It doesn’t have that effect on me because I perceive a windy day as a windy day and if I wish to ride my mountain bike, I need to make allowances and lower my need for speed. I’m no match for a 60 KPH+ wind although it does demand respect and an alternative approach to a calm day.
Think About Language
- What sort of language do you use to describe various weather conditions and how do your words affect your mood and behavior?
- It’s raining; Isn’t it miserable?
- It’s too cold; I don’t want to move let alone go outside
- Oh it’s so hot I can’t concentrate
- Let’s turn those withering weather thoughts around.
- Talk about how the rain promotes growth
- Thank you rain for washing the car
- The rain feels nice and cool
- I can easily dry off when I get home
- Look at those beautiful clouds
- Look at the trees dancing in the wind and the way the grass on the fields sways. Here the song of the wind as it caresses the buildings around town.
- I can’t rush around when it’s this hot so I’m going to slow down and see the beauty in everything around me
Our inner dialogue of negativity about the weather affects more than just our weather thoughts. Look at the general dispositions of people you come across; Are their weather thoughts affecting everything? Changing negative language can have a massive impact on how your days work out. We can manage our well-being better and sometimes it is the seemingly simple things that count.
I remember a comment often delivered by my mother during childhood.
“Mum, it’s not fair . . . ”
“Well my love, it’s not raining; things could be worse”!
A discussion with a friend a couple of days ago caused me to pause and think. He lives in Australia and in his region there are six-year old children who have never seen rain except on television. Temperatures are set to rise to 50° celcius this week in that region. Yet, life goes on, the Aussies down there have to adjust and adapt.
Speak or think no negative words about the weather. If you’re about to say “What a miserable day” Stop and pause for breath, “It’s cloudy today; look at those amazing cloud formations”.
Positive language about the weather or anything, changes the way we look at things and that gives birth to positive solutions.
I love this world; isn’t it beautiful?
Here’s to an outstanding day; Let’s join it and be outstanding.
Comments and Questions
Please leave yours below. Your thoughts or questions may well ignite a positive spark in another readers thinking. You will always receive a prompt response to your questions and there is no such thing as a bad question; only the one that was never asked.
Here’s to your success
Peace & Light
Steve Costello is a British Community & Youth Studies and Psychology honors graduate with over 30-years theoretical and practical experience in the Personal Development public and private sectors. He founded ExGro in 2018 with business partner, friend and clinical psychologist, Leo Faerberg.