It gets dark so early these days. Every year, I seem to be surprised by the gathering darkness, how quickly it comes on, how early I need to get out with the dog if I don’t want to come home in blackness.

Here in the Northern Hemisphere, winter is just beginning, and it’s easy to feel like we’ll never see light again. But it’s coming. Solstice is in just a few days, and with it comes the imperceptible return of the light. But on that day, the shortest day of the year, it is a wonderful time to sit with both dark and light.

Holding Dark and Light Together

So often we are asked to choose. Are we happy or sad? Grateful or grumbling?

But life isn’t like that. Joy and sorrow so often come together. We are both loving parts of our life and facing challenges. And we can learn to embrace the fullness of our experience, enjoying and honoring the positives and acknowledging and dealing with the hard stuff.

Practicing gratitude may seem like focusing on the positive and seeing only the light, and it is an amazing way to bring more joy into your life, but it is also one of the best ways to gain resilience through hard times. Practicing gratitude doesn’t mean you have to love every moment or everything happening. It just means seeing the good in your life, no matter what else is happening.

And the more you do it, the easier it gets, the more positive pathways in the brain.

So I can grumble about the early darkness (and I still do), but I can also enjoy lighting candles or watching the dusk gather. I can feel a little overwhelmed by all the things happening this month: two holidays, getting ready for a workshop in January and a brand new class in March, all while dealing with ongoing home repairs … and I can look forward to having my whole family together later this month. Life is busy and sometimes bumpier than I want, but I’m grateful that we all get to be and celebrate the holidays together.

 Reflecting on Light & Dark

One of the reasons I don’t love journaling is that it can quickly devolve into a downward spiral of ruminating on the dark. It’s easy to get stuck in the muck. And yet, I tell people to tell their stories, the happy ones, the hard ones.

Ruminating doesn’t serve us, but reflecting does. Writing about what happened, feeling those deep feelings again and reflecting on how we got through hard times, what we really appreciated about the beautiful and kind moments has so much to show us going forward.

What darkness do you need to embrace right now? What gift can you find in that? What light can you see in your life, whether things feel wonderful right now or hard or kind of meh? Take some time to write your story. It’s amazing the clarity you can get when you stop letting things swirl around in your head and put it down on paper  – just for you.

Take a few minutes. See what happens. I’d love to know.

Love the idea of creating a more meaningful life that embraces both the dark and light? Download my free guide, 3 Steps to Having a Meaningful Life You Love to start designing your best life—a life with more energy, engagement, and clarity.

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