Winter makes mornings a bit more miserable for all of us. One swipe of the weather app and we all tug the comforters over our heads, dreading the thought of stepping foot into the darkness.
The people of Tromsø, Norway, which lies 200 miles north of the Arctic Circle, endure winters that are a wee bit worse than the rest of the world's. (The sun doesn’t appear for two months; temperatures regularly sit in the subzero range.) Despite this, the 70,000 (!) people who choose to live there are pretty perky.
Why? Well, Stanford University researcher Kari Leibowitz had the same question. She spent 10 months in the fair, frigid city of Tromsø to find out why they don’t suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder or resort to holing up with Netflix all winter. The result, it seems, comes down to one thing: outlook.
As Leibowitz recounts in an article for The Conversation, the residents of Tromsø simply don’t see winter, or the 60 days of darkness, as much of a bummer. Instead, they’re psyched for skiing and something called "Koselig," which, as Inc. states, “is the idea of cuddling up beneath a warm blanket and feeling cozy all over.”
Leibowitz writes that "having a positive wintertime mindset was associated with greater life satisfaction, willingness to pursue the challenges that lead to personal growth and positive emotions." It's as simple as being upbeat.
The wisdom to be gleaned from Leibowitz is easier said than done. Especially since the severity of Seasonal Affective Disorder, a very real malady, varies from person to person. However it makes sense: Treatment for the disorder typically requires spending time in front of a light box to absorb some natural Vitamin D. Cognitive behavioral therapy, however, is gaining ground as an effective — if not the most effective — way to avoid sinking into a winter funk. While the therapy is complex, the basic theory comes down to altering one's attitude towards a given issue, be it Seasonal Affective Disorder or insomnia.
So maybe a little positive thinking will make the snow and darkness less daunting. Or perhaps some people are just better off staying inside with a cup of hot chocolate and their Netflix queue, fully loaded with a winter’s worth of backlogged series. To each their own.