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Weather and Emotions

Is there a connection between the weather and our emotions?  Well, I suppose if you ever really thought about it, you would say that yes, there most certainly is.  Calm peaceful days with gentle sunshine would seem to symbolize contentment.   Drizzling rain would point to sorrow.  Torrential rain seems connected to deep grief and turmoil.  Roaring thunder seems to symbolize anger and fury.  Then there is an actual illness known as Seasonal Affective Disorder(SAD).  This illness, as far as I remember reading  a long time ago, is a type of depression associated with living for prolonged periods in a dull climate, where the sunshine is seldom seen.  Well, who would disagree?

I remember meeting an Indian woman in Dublin in 1990, who was the wife of the then Indian Ambassador to Ireland.  Although she seems to have found Dublin quite congenial in terms of facilities and people, she was badly affected by the seemingly never-ending dull weather.  Having come from India, which has a lot of sunshine, and having lived meanwhile in a Mediterranean paradise like Greece, she found the damp and rather dull climate of Ireland afforded her little cause for joy.  In fact, she was finding it distinctly off-putting.  When I mentioned Seasonal Affected Disorder, she claimed it as her own immediately.

There is a phenomenon in literature, particularly in poetry, of causing the weather to agree with the mood of the writer.  If I am not mistaken, that phenomenon is known as ‘pathetic fallacy’.  One of my favourite  ‘mood’ poems is WB Yeats’ ‘To A Child Dancing In The Wind’.

Dance there upon the shore
What need have you to care
For wind and water’s roar?
And tumble out your hair
That the salt drops have wet
Being young you have not known
The fool’s triumph nor yet
Love lost as soon as won
Nor the best labourer dead
And all the sheaves to bind
What need have you to fear the monstrous crying of the wind?

I reproduce this poem with full apologies to whomsoever for the copyright.  Don’t these words paint a thrilling picture?  See, the situation is by the sea during a windy storm.  The child is having a whale of a time, dancing away to glory. She hasn’t seen too much of life, but she’s loving it.   The poet, meanwhile, is depressed, cynical, heartsick.    He’s tasted the bitterness of life, such as the loss of his true love, the death of a still-young, talented friend, the triumph of fools.  I mean, is there anything more galling than the triumph of fools?  The turbulence of the weather is a cause of joyful celebration for her, but for him, it is a reflection of his inner agony.  His harsh tone towards the innocent child – who is unaware of it anyway – becomes understandable when you become aware that the child – Iseult McBride – is the daughter of Maud Gonne, the woman Yeats idolized, who spurned him and added insult to injury by marrying a man he didn’t like at all.  I suppose quoting Yeats is a bit of a cliché for an Irish person – in Ireland, saying WB Yeats is a great poet is a bit like saying Michael Jackson was a great singer.  It just goes without saying

Film makers have used the technique of making the weather agree with the mood of the subject.  Who hasn’t  seen lovers walking away from each other forever in the pouring rain, or sailing off  together into  glorious sunsets?  Not that I could name a single film where I’ve actually seen this happening.  Or the nefarious culprit unmasked during a thunderstorm?  Weather can complement scenes all right.  And probably, it has a huge effect on the moods of people.  Some people. Not all people.  One cannot really generalize about these things.  I mean, can it be true that the Nordic countries, which live out cold and dark winters, are full of depressed, vodka-ridden alcoholics?  Then it would have to be true that people who live in countries where the sun shines all the time must be full of joy!  Of course they’re not.  And if it were true that weather has a direct affect on emotions, the Irish would be a joyless lot indeed, living in a cool, damp climate.  And that’s just not so.  Irish people, in general, are quite good humoured, although there are of course, exceptions.

In the north of India, where I live, we have such extremes of weather, i.e. too hot in summer and too cold in winter that we are forced to just exist through them.  My husband Yash says that a person’s capacity to work is drastically reduced in hot weather.  One doesn’t seem to accomplish much in those days it is true.  And at a time when the children don’t go to school because they simply cannot, it is not really possible for them to enjoy their vacation to the fullest.  Hot sun may seem like a real treat to a person who lives in a damp and rather miserable climate, but its not at all nice.  The sun literally blinds you and eats your energy.  You even need to wear sunscreen in the shade.  The only time to move around is in the cool of the morning or evening.  And the winters!  Oh, yes, the winters, those dry, inland winters where you would love the chance of a warm sea breeze!  They most intense days of winter are also just ‘live through’ days.  The winter dries up your skin and pinches your spirit.

Does the weather (or the climate, a long term version of the weather) affect our emotions?  Well, it depends.  Some people are very affected by what they see.  Some by what they hear.  Others by the general environment.  So depending on how the weather affects any of these factors, a person’s emotions may be affected. 

Personally, I always try never to let the outer environment bother me.  We have no control over what goes on outside us.   I don’t even want to go there.  One has enough to do taking care of  what goes on inside our heads, keeping ourselves calm and peaceful and positive.   Let the bad weather do it’s darndest, I am ready for it all.  As it says in Psalm 46 of the Bible:

“God is our strength and protection,
An ever-present help in affliction.
We will not fear, therefore,
Though the earth be shaken
And the mountains plunge into the seas,
Though its waters foam and roar,
Though the mountains quake and totter.

For the Lord of Hosts is with us,
The God of Jacob is our stronghold.”

I believe in every word of this!   

This is my weekly post as a member of the Loose Blogging Consortium (LBC) an informal group of bloggers scattered around the globe who post on a given topic at the same time every Friday.  Members iare, (in alphabetical order), Ashok, Conrad, me gaelikaa, Grannymar, Helen, Judy, Magpie 11, Maria, Marianna and Ramanaj.  If you have some time to spare, please pay a visit to these blogs and see how we have treated the same topic in our own individual way.


  1. Pathetic fallacy! I love that term!

    This post had me going and just when I thought I knew where it would end, you took it a different direction. You make an excellent point about the different cultures and what they SHOULD be like if they were to match their climate with their emotions.

    Now you have me thinking...

  2. I love your discription of the summers and winters in India! So visual. There is a totally different climate between Ireland and India for sure! Interesting and fascinating post!

  3. Wow gaelikaa, amazing post. I said in my blog that I used to be affected by the weather...when I was young and it was all about me. It edged off over the years as other things took over my emotions but since having kids, I'm affected not at all. As you say, life is what you make it and with kids, the responsibility is to make it great. I can't very well do that, sitting in a corner, worried about the rain!

    That being said, I never suffered from SAD, which family members do and it is a real illness which can lead to depression during the cold, dark months. One family member gets through it, knowing that every December, she has a 2 week holiday booked to the sunniest of places and it'll all be over come the spring. Having a change to look forward to helps, regardless of the subject.

  4. I find it difficult to cope in the very odd hear wave we experience in Ireland. I would never cope with the extremes of India!

  5. I know a couple of people who suffer from this. They need sunshine to boost their mood. I've never felt that way. Dark, gloomy days are comforting and cozy to me!

  6. I cant say i dont believe in it. Ive spent the last two days feeling like a slug stuck in the home.

  7. A wonderful post and I loved your description of winter and summer in India.

    Some of our schools have changed to year around here. Still I think most folks really prefer summers off.

    What a marvelous poem and your interpretation was most insightful. I loved it.

  8. Gaelikaa, some very cheerful people call me Sunshine! I suppose that they do so because I light them up! The reason I mention this is to highlight one aspect of our behaviour that can be constant. That is not letting weather affect us. You have the very great advantage of two vastly different climates having influenced who you are and your post reflects that reality. Great post.

  9. The weather definitely effects my mood.

  10. Interesting about emotions being affected by darkness or light.

    Sweden is pitch black at 4:00 in December. My daughter tried using bright lights at the nursing home where she first worked. The depressed people didn't like it. They were accustomed to dark in the winter.

  11. I grew up in very cold winters and not-so-warm summers. I find that I wilt in extreme heat...unless I can be in the ocean or in AC. First is preferable and not practical, the second is not always available.

    I wonder how much is genetic, relating way back in our history? Or, is it just personal preference?

    Liked your line about having enough to do with what goes on inside of us...which is what resonated with you from my post. It is true, it does take a conscious effort to maintain our "inner climate".

  12. There is indeed a tremendous link between the weather, particularly the sun light, and the mood. When I was in Thailand at the end of the rainy season, it was so much humidity in the air that I was almost afraid I felt that I couldn't breathe. It was a bit scary.
    Thank you for the post and the beautiful poems. The rains in India must be fascinating in their wild power and force.

  13. Simply superb connection. I have always loved the mild sun on a winter afternoon, nothing beasts that combo in India. I love the rains too but not the chaos it creates...yeats and shelly were my favourites in school, loved their delicious imagery!!

  14. great post, i like your description very much. i admire your "resistance" to indian weather ;)
    have a great week,

  15. I love the way you write. Your words are so influential. You can describe so beautifully and your faith is strong!
    Keep up the good work!! ;)

  16. Thats a brilliant post! Have read quiet a few of your posts earlier thanks to Ashok and the 'Loose Consortium'. :)
    I am certainly going to be a regular visitor! :)

  17. You have me thinking always do. This post was amazing.

    No matter what, I always feel better when the sun is shining. Even if I'm already feeling great, when it's sunny I feel super-great!

    I did a piece once on sunlights in the winter and how they can help with depression...

  18. Brialliant post, gaelikaa.

    I quite like dark winter evenings and don't cope well with heat - so I suppose it's fortunate I live where I do.


  19. This is an outstanding post. It's definitely something to ponder. Blessings to you!!

  20. This is a nice post. I think weather might affect a lot of people, but you are right, we have no control, so we have to make the best of it. I lived in Iceland during a school year. I wore my coat every single day and didn't see the sun for 3 months, but that didn't bother me. Now I live where the sun shines 310 days a year. I think if I had to move to a dull climate, I might need light therapy after this, but if we allow ourselves, we can adjust to anything... especially if we depend on more than ourselves for the strength.

    Thanks for your visit to my blog!

  21. I don't have these problems. My washing machine is named Anjana and she doesn't break down or need replacing :)

  22. I think I just posted a comment on the wrong post :)

  23. I so totally just now realized that you have a second blog. Sorry for neglecting to come her until now.;) And I am happy that you have your machine fixed by a handy man.;)

  24. Hehe, I did the same mistake as Braja.;)

  25. Wonderful! Keep it up! You think so deep...


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