The gift behind Blue Monday

Dr Cliff Arnal – originator of the idea of Blue Monday back in 2005, has since stated that he never intended for the phrase to emphasise misery and to become the year’s most depressing date. It was instead about, where possible, taking a positive outlook and looking ahead at opportunities for new beginnings and change.

Undoubtedly as the excitement of Christmas and New Year fades from view it can be tempting to allow the winter chill and still darker days to influence our mood.  Add to this the continued turbulence of global and domestic political direction and the route to positivity is even harder.  This task to seek strength and resilience from challenging times gave me cause for reflection and as coaches supporting the wellbeing of our working parent clients, it is incumbent on us to support the view that all experiences are valuable – none to be discounted as unnecessary or even avoidable.  All emotions (even those on Blue Monday) are valid and indeed desirable, even those we wish to avoid. The shadow and the light carry equal weight.

With this in mind I will be viewing the concept of Blue Monday through a different lens this year.  A lens best exemplified by the popular poem ‘The Guest House’, by the 13th century Persian poet Rumi.  Often quoted as an integral part of mindfulness teaching worldwide, (and used mostly recently throughout their global tour by the band Coldplay!) this poem is a timely reminder not to shrink from difficult thoughts and emotions passing through us but to meet them with courage, warmth and respect.  Challenging and sadness inducing times can act like a cleanse.  As the poem describes, these times seemingly unwelcome guests into the guesthouse of your mind and will chip away at everything that is untrue or unhelpful, if you let them. It also reminds us to take consolation from that fact that by being guests, they will eventually depart as well.

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.

Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,

some momentary awareness comes

As an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!

Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,

who violently sweep your house

empty of its furniture,

still treat each guest honourably.

He may be clearing you out

for some new delight

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,

meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,

Because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.

Jalaluddin Rumi

Rob Bravo, Head of Wellbeing, Talking Talent