Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Sunshine Effect

First, news: If you entered my new-reader contest, watch your emailbox as I'll be sending out prizes soon. (I'll do this again, so check back.)

Onto my topic.... Here in Arizona, we're having the monsoons. These aren't the tropical horrors that make CNN. They're mostly friendly bursts of wind, rain, thunder and lightning. Just enough to be thrilling.

They can be awful, of course, with deadly dust storms and horrific flooding, power outages and downed trees, but on this early morning, I enjoyed coffee, an engrossing book and the brilliant colors of a rainbow against gray clouds, sunlight turning the mountain a painted gold. It was gorgeous and the smell of creosote and ozone are intoxicating to me.

Of course, I live in a place that has more days of sun per year than any other major city. Here, rain and clouds are an exotic delight.

I love Seattle and Vancouver and often wonder if I could take so many gray days and as much cold as they offer. I'm not sure.

In the meantime, I read an article about research on the effect of weather on attitudes and behavior.

Sunshine makes us nicer, according to research. On sunny days, people answer more survey questions and tip more generously.

Cloudy days make us drink more alconol, coffee, tobacco and cholcate to elevate our mood.

Consider college admittance. Applicants who are more academic get admitted more often on cloudy days. Social butterflies get ushered in on sunny days.

Sunshine boosts the stock market. Cloudy days make more people buy lottery tickets.

Here's something grim: Suicides go up in warmer months as depressed folks see what they're missing and have the sun-generated energy to take action. Yikes!

Do you buy any of that? How do the seasons, sun, rain or snow affect your moods and behavior? How do you compensate for bad weather?

Sun or rain, I hope you have lots of time to read.
Dawn Atkins