Is sunshine directly responsible for lifting our mood?

Intellectually, I came to understand that the answer to this question is ‘no’. Nothing on the outside can be responsible for us feeling anything on the inside; we only ever feel our thinking. But there stubbornly remained a niggling doubt in my mind when it came to sunshine; surely there is a causal link between the sun shining and my ‘sunny’ mood. During a conversation on our recent retreat, I had a realisation and all doubt disappeared for good. Now I know that ‘100% an inside job’ really does include sunshine!

What did I come to see about sunshine at the weekend?

I saw that the association between sunshine and mood is stronger in the UK than say Spain, primarily because we spend a lot of time fixating on the weather in the UK, notably the amount of rain we have in this country.  Therefore, we’re primed from an early age to appreciate sunshine. If, on the other hand, we move to Spain, we might appreciate the rain and be less enamoured by the sun.

Back to my initial question… it is my thinking, in this case the prior learning, that has me associating sunshine with a mood lift and not the sunshine itself that lifts my mood. NOTHING… not anything my husband or children might say or do, how I might judge my achievements or what happens in the world, can affect my mood, that doesn’t start with my thinking. Most of our thinking is happening in the background and we are simply unaware of it. Hence the shortcut trap in the brain that has us believe that sunshine can make us happy. And off we go chasing the proverbial sunshine.

When I see that my experience (synonymous with mood) is always being crafted by thoughts inside my mind, I know that I don’t have to get caught in the trap of overthinking and I can stay more present in the moment. The thoughts still come and go but the drama of them is less compelling. I’m calmer and have more clarity about the next steps to take.

Now imagine there is something important that you are putting off, perhaps a relationship that isn’t right for you and a challenging conversation that needs to happen. In our minds we might make the association between being in the relationship and being happy so we try to change the other person to fit in with our expectations. The only place in which this remotely plays out is our minds. It’s easy to see why some people, without this understanding, might stick around for years struggling to bring about the impossible. When we notice the trap, it becomes obvious that the solution is not in more struggling (thinking) but in starting that challenging conversation and listening with love and understanding to the other person. Afterall, your relationships are only ever a reflection of your thinking, whether you are aware of it or not.               

Curious to explore this further then why don’t you read about it in my book, “More than you think”.

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Our next Retreat is being held in Weymouth, Dorset on June 23rd – 25th, click below to book your place.

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