Week 398: “A Nearer Sun” by The Westerlies

A quick and slightly random Christmas thought sparked by the title of this week’s song: the sun can teach us an important message about happiness.

This time of year is when the earth approaches its perihelion: the point in our annual orbit that brings us closest to the sun. This might seem surprising to those of us in the northern half of the world, since we associate December and January with the cold, dreary depths of winter.

But of course the temperature of the seasons isn’t the result of our nearness to the sun, but rather the tilting of the earth. The angle of the sun’s rays when they hit us is what determines their intensity. It’s not about proximity.

So, humour me for a second and think about that. Visualize the earth and the sun. But in your visualization, replace the earth with you, and the sun with your family. Or your goals. Or the material things you want or the level of wealth you want to achieve.

Your proximity to those things isn’t necessarily the point. You can be geographically far from your family but still feel warm towards them. You can get no gifts for Christmas and still feel satisfied. It’s your your perspective, the tilting of your attitude on its own axis, that determines how you feel about those things.

As corny as that might sound, study after study finds that attitude and happiness are connected. This time of year is as good a time as any to try tilting on your axis. The warmth you feel might surprise you.

What makes this a beautiful song:

1. The loose tempo that speeds and slows at its own leisure.

2. The slow rise of the melody at around 1:30.

3. Some of the warmest-sounding horns you’ll ever hear.

Recommended listening activity:

Holding your hand above a candle at the point where you can just barely feel its warmth.

Buy it here.