Wintering Summary

1-Sentence-Summary: Wintering highlights the similarities between the cold season of the year and the period of hardship in a human life, by emphasizing how everything eventually passes in time, and how we can learn to embrace challenging times by learning from wolves, from the cold, and how our ancestors dealt with the winter.

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Wintering Summary

Think about winter for a minute. Every year, our planet is going through the cold season, shading its colors, vitality, and entering a dark time. But the earth knows that spring will follow, and that the cold times can only last so long. Facing the low temperatures, animals go into hibernation mode, and the entire world seems to stop and freeze, sometimes in a literal way. The beauty of all of this? Once the world reemerges, it is stronger than before.

Just like nature itself, we, too, go through different seasons in our lives. Some are easier, others are harder. Katherine May‘s book Wintering can show us that not everything about hardship is bad, and not every part of winter is meant to test us.

Here are 3 cues from Mother Nature to help you hold out until your next spring arrives:

  1. Winter naturally enforces a meditative state for the mind and body of all earthlings.
  2. Cold weather has a series of benefits on the human body.
  3. Life is full of ups and downs, and whoever doesn’t believe it will suffer more in the end. 

Ready to explore the true meaning of each lesson? If so, let’s begin with the first one!

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Lesson 1: During winter, our mind and body need to slow down and enter a meditative state.

Before the industrial revolution that brought forth electricity and artificial lighting systems, humans were naturally deprived of daylight during winter, and that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, a study from 1996 aimed to replicate the natural conditions of a typical winter for the participants. The result? Improved health. People slept more, but their bodies managed to adapt and wake up during daylight. While awake, they were more calm and reflective. 

Perhaps if we look at it from a different perspective, winter isn’t such a bad thing to go through. In fact, it allows us to become more introspective and reflect on what matters. We learn to appreciate the little things, the good times, and to face the challenging temperatures with limited resources. In life, times of hardship are similar to winter.

While we don’t get much sun and life doesn’t seem quite cheerful, we grow stronger, learn to overcome obstacles, and most importantly, we get to know ourselves a little bit more. Therefore, we must get comfortable with times of anxiety and uncertainty, while we learn how to navigate through them. These are the times to meditate and reflect upon what truly matters to us and how we can become better for the next season.

Lesson 2: Low temperatures can enhance our mental and bodily strength.

Winter is the season of sheltering from the cold. Every year, we prepare in advance to face the negative temperatures by stocking up on supplies, preparing shovels for the snow, and cozying up our homes. However, perhaps we’ve got it all wrong. If you look at animals, they don’t fear winter, but rather embrace it. They hibernate and spend their cold days in the midst of it all, in solace and meditation.

In fact, low temperatures can have immense benefits on the human body. For example, swimming in cold water can increase dopamine, the happiness hormone, by up to 25%. Moreover, it decreases fatigue and stress. Extreme temperatures benefit the mind, as it forces us to be awake and live in the present. Therefore, embracing winter as animals do isn’t a bad idea at all. On another level, we can look at life the same way.

As inevitable as it is, difficult times will occur. However, the way we respond to them can change the course of the situation. Just like animals, we can learn to fully embrace the situation and trust that spring or better times will come. During winter, learn to be more mindful, more resilient, and aim to reconnect with yourself. And instead of preparing and fearing those difficult times, embrace them as part of your growth as a human.

Lesson 3: Life isn’t a continuous summer, so learn to deal with wintering.

By this point, I think it’s clear that the main aim of this book is to make you embrace winter both in its actual and metaphorical way. To feel the cold is as natural as it is to feel low. This is particularly important because the moment you understand that life comes in seasons is the moment you liberate yourself from putting a spin on every negative experience. 

When you stop asking yourself “why is this happening to me?”, and instead accept the situation as it is the moment when you mature and grow. Before you look for ways to overcome your personal winters, look at the lessons you must learn from them. Fight your urge to resist winter, and accept that life is a spinning wheel. Keep in mind that this doesn’t mean diving into toxic positivity, turning to social media and other sources of inspiration to help you fight your battles and keep your head up no matter what.

Instead, focus on acknowledging your feelings, and most importantly, feeling them in all their depth. Only then, you’ll be able to move on to the next step and embrace what’s coming next. In all seriousness, you can’t just pretend it’s warm outside when everything around you is freezing. Instead, you acknowledge it and wait for the aftermath. Know when it’s time to lie down, take a deep breath, and focus on your well-being. Moreover, acknowledging that difficult times will happen again, and the best thing you can do is learn from the previous ones and be better prepared.

Wintering Review

Wintering is your go-to book in times of hardship, when life throws challenges at you, and when you feel like you need a little bit of motivation to go through the hard times. By discovering the similarities we as humans have with the animals and the earth during the cold season, we can learn how to adapt and react to the negative events in our life by learning the science behind wintering. In a nutshell, wintering is all about learning to soothe our souls during difficult times and accept that life is full of ups and downs, just like a year full of seasons and significant changes.

Who would I recommend the Wintering summary to?

The 25-year-old person who’s going through a tough break-up and wants to find a way to deal with it, the 33-year-old person who wants to be more in control of their life when something unexpectedly good or bad happens, or the 27-year-old person who wants to deepen their connection with themselves and the natural world.

Last Updated on May 19, 2023

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Maria Deac

While working with my friend Ovi's company SocialBee, I had the good fortune of Maria writing over 200 summaries for us over the course of 18 months. Maria is a professional SEO copywriter, content writer, and social media marketing specialist. When she's not writing or learning more about marketing, she loves to dance and travel all over the world.