Let’s have a meaningful summer!

The summer is turning out to have record-breaking heat. It’s enough to just keep us indoors at home, in our office, in the malls, or anywhere with AC (Common Room stores included, “no budol required”). If you want to remember this summer beyond the heat, there are a few things we can do to make it a little bit more meaningful. Here are a few ways to make the most of the summer and nourish our spirit in the process. 

1. Learn something new

Remember when summer was usually the time we would take music, art, swimming or some other lesson? Channel those childhood summers and take this as a time to learn something new. The human brain is programmed to learn, to seek out new information. And one of the best things about living in these modern times is we’ve got access to a lot of info that can enable us to acquire new skills, boost our creativity, or improve ourselves. 

At Common Room, we share tutorials and how-tos from our many makers. You can learn watercolor painting process, how to make your own natural skin balm, rework vintage clothes, and more.

2. Keep a gratitude journal

It’s easy to spend our day complaining—the heat, adulting, the heat. But gratitude allows us to appreciate what we have instead of focusing on what we’re lacking. Research has found that gratitude makes a positive impact on our brain, aside from improving our health and bringing us happiness

One way to practice being in a state of thankfulness is to maintain a gratitude journal. Journaling enthusiast, crafter, and artist Nica Cosio shares how journaling helps remind her of the many good things that happen in a year. “Most of the time what stands out are the bad memories, the losses and we lose sight of all the good things,” she said in our previous Meet the Makers interview. But what journaling does is remind her that “a lot of times there’s really more good than bad.” Another good thing about journaling what we’re grateful for is that the more we practice it, the more we strengthen our grateful mindset. 

3. Nurture nature

Summer is often the time we try to get out of town—head to the beach, the mountains, or find whatever patch of green or sand we can. (Hey, walking on grass, soil or sand barefoot for 30 minutes every day is good for our mental health!) 

Should you get out of the house, keep in mind how you can travel green (bike around a neighborhood you want to explore) or engage in eco-friendly activities even if you’re in the city (try urban farming, perhaps?). If indoors, you can create your own garden like how our plantita mother hen Roma does it, giving tips on how you can cultivate your own little space for nature. 

4. Get involved with something bigger than yourself

Because of all the adulting we need to attend to, we often lose sight of the big picture and what really matters. It can be our health, our family, our faith, our purpose, or all of the above. They ground us. 

Several makers we get to partner with show us the importance of having a purpose bigger than just sharing their creativity or making a profit. They have a ‘why’ outside themselves that guides them. The makers behind Mako Micro-Press, for example, use their creativity to make protest art on the issues affecting the less fortunate (like the jeepney drivers and their families) or the victims of injustice and genocide. 

5. Stay connected

No, we’re not talking about holding on to our phones and making sure we always have data. Surrounding yourself and staying connected with people you care about and who care about you is essential for a meaningful life. The summer season  gives us a good excuse to meet up, whether for a long weekend holiday or to pursue something new together (see tip #1). 

As a creative, Jodinand Aguillon of Glorious Dias talks about the importance of surrounding himself with makers and other creatives who encouraged him and gave him advice. Marvz Conti of Studio Habil has seen the value of having a community, a support system where you can get feedback and provide mentorship if needed as well. It’s within a supportive community where you can share your joy and be happy for each other’s accomplishments as well.

Your summer project can be as simple as being the one to reach out and make arrangements for a regular meetup with kindred spirits (we won’t judge what your definition of ‘regular’ is). Having a meaningful time, whatever the season, often means making an effort. Stepping out of our comfort zones, making time to learn or to connect, they’re not easy but they’re worth it. 

Written by Mabel David-Pilar
Mabel has been a writer and editor for many publications, including fashion, shelter, and food titles and a book on the most endangered Philippine trees. She spends most of her time writing, illustrating, stalking Common Room’s online shop, and making ferments. Together with her sisters, she co-created startersisters.com to celebrate fermenting in the Philippines.