Here in the eastern U.S.A., January has been a brutal month. The final days are forecast to be the same, with deep cold, cutting winds and school- closing snow. These conditions lead to confinement for many. Those who must venture out often face the stress of first shoveling their way out from house to car, clearing and scraping ice and snow from their vehicles, then navigating slippery roads to work- hoping it doesn’t snow again before they make their way back home. Others have not gotten out much at all, the elements confining them much like the pandemic has done. Some can’t sleep- others oversleep. Some gain weight- others don’t want to eat. Tempers are short, muscles ache, nerves are frayed, and old fashioned “cabin fever” takes over. Summer seems like no more than a word heard only in someone else’s language.

When our ancestors experienced cabin fever, it was due to living in very close quarters- often one room, smaller than the average living room in our homes today. In a cabin, much like that in the above photo, parents, children (often many) and sometimes other relatives, rubbed elbows and frayed one another’s nerves as they waited for spring.

Winter has long put relationships to the test. Arguments with mates and children are more likely than ever. Sadly, some rash decisions made at this edgy time can make or break the future of what could be good relationships. It is a time when we need to be aware of the often temporary ‘cabin fever reason’ behind the other person’s behavior and the equally temporary ‘cabin fever nature’ of our response. It is a time when we are wise to stop to think before we react to the other person’s words or actions. Winter is having an effect on us all. (Note: This is not meant to excuse abuse)

When faced with confrontation or the need to get the last word, it helps to ask this question, “Would I rather be right, or would I rather be at peace?” Being at peace brings happiness -which is impossible when we let our egos get the upper hand. Arguments and petty battles lead us the wrong direction as cabin fever brings out the worst in us and those who share our space. It doesn’t last. It will pass. What irritates us in January would likely roll off our back in June. Be good to yourself and others. That, you will never regret!

Today is National Spouse Day. If you have a spouse, think of five good things about him/ her. Find two ways to let them know you appreciate having them in your life. Let at least three things you normally find fault with, pass without mention. If your spouse has died, remember the good things and be thankful you had time together on this earth. If you do not have a spouse, but would like to have one someday, begin to develop and nurture the qualities within yourself that would attract the right kind of person.

Always the question: Would you rather be right or would you rather be at peace?

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