As wellness reminds us that being well is not merely the absence of illness within the self, but instead, it is the presence of a flourishing, happy and growth oriented self.
When we think of this from an intellectual perspective, we might realize that at some point we might have given up on, or significantly decreased, our actions to step outside of our comfort zones and force ourselves to gain exposure to things that may allow us to expand our knowledge and interests.
So become mindful of this dimension for the month of February. February tends to be the most dreaded month of the winter season as the excitement of winter weather has dissipated and most of us are fully ready to dive head first into spring. This can lead to stagnation during this time, maybe a desire to simply sit back and wait out the month bundled up under a blanket and hoping that the groundhog won’t see his shadow, so we can be filled with excited anticipation of the next season.
This, as we know, takes us out of the present moment and our ability to enjoy what is happening right now.
So, think about these things as you focus on being mindful of your intellectual growth during this slow month of winter.
1. Start journaling
Write down your thoughts on a more regular basis. Consider observations of life that interest you and focus on journaling about these things. As you observe, maybe you read more about your topic of interest and generate ideas. These topics of interest can be different for everyone. Some people may enjoy observing and reflecting on psychology and the human connection, others might be interested in observing the complexities of nature, some people might have an interest in studying and journaling about politics, and others might be intrigued by architecture. The list goes on and on. The point is to identify what you find yourself drawn to and to spend more time observing, reading, reflecting and writing about it.
2. Participate in arts and culture activities
Again, this will vary for each person’s individual interest. But, there truly is something for everyone. Some individuals might want to see a new play or performance, others might be interested in visiting an art gallery, while some people might be more inclined to visit museums. There might even be local festivals celebrating different ethnic or cultural groups that you can attend in your area. These festivals might have food, music and history that you haven’t been exposed to before. This is yet another opportunity to step outside of your comfort zone and expand your knowledge during this time of mindful intellectual growth.
3. Socialize with new people in a unique way
Join a book club, attend a mindfulness workshop, or find a meetup in your area to ‘meet up’ with people who have interests similar to your own. These meetup groups allow people with similar interests to come together for excursions, social hours, book clubs, fitness classes, etc. Even further, think about joining a professional association for your industry or an industry you are interested in. This will allow you to gather with likeminded people who want to talk about the things that you’re passionate about. All of these options allow us to socialize with others in a way that promotes mental stimulation, learning, and growth.
4. Begin a Meditation Practice
It is easier than you think to begin a meditation practice. There are many sites online or on utube that can guide beginners through their first steps to developing a practice. First start out with five minutes then progressively lengthen as you get used to it. This will benefit you in many ways. Meditation relieves stress and releases serotonin to the brain which stimulates those happy feelings that we all crave in the winter. This can take the place of that much needed sunshine that we are missing during these long days of winter.
So, choose to use February as a month of mental rejuvenation. Be mindful of the importance that intellectual growth and stimulation has on your overall well-being. Reignite your passions by journaling, find new passions by stepping outside of your comfort zone, and meet new people who will light a spark in you to keep learning and growing.