Reviving the tolerance

Reviving the tolerance

When I started this blog in 2016, the focus was on how research, particularly doing a PhD, requires a certain tolerance to ambiguity. In the years since, and a thank you to those of you who stood by me in this journey, my role has changed and diversified. I’ve changed a few positions, a few homes, made a few life decisions, but the core idea of needing to tolerate ambiguity has not.

I’ve spend my hiatus from the blog last year thinking of all the ways in which ambiguity engulfs us all, and all the concepts that feel unique to me in experience but are actually shared across boundaries. So as 2023 pokes it’s head, I would like to invite you to join me as I revive my blog. If you’ve been reading this through the years, you can take comfort in knowing that we will still be talking about ambiguity in our work, personal life, the changing world and everyday commonalities. If you are joining us now, keep reading to see if you’d like to join us.

Happy New Year!

366 days ago I was in a relatively new job, in a relatively new to me city, newly engaged and planning a wedding, in a society hopefully emerging from a pandemic and once again in a country where I did not speak the native language. So I decided to plot my mood every week. Why? Because my background in psychology taught me that mood tracking was a well grounded method of periodic reflection, allowing us to pause long enough to see what changes we need to make. Maybe take a quick breather.

Weekly moods of 2022 visualized by colour. Each row is a quarter. Week 1 is top left, week 52 is bottom right. Darker were more difficult weeks. Lighter were easier weeks.

Without knowing my daily happenings, you could still see how different weeks had different levels of stress and my response to them was either taking a toll on me or not. In fact, this kind of data is not unique to my weekly practice. I like doing the old pen and paper tracking, but if you use any kind of a mindfulness or wellness app, it probably prompts you to check in with yourself multiple times a day. You may have seen people fill in mood tracking colours in their bullet journals and even knit blankets choosing a coloured thread a day. If you were to plot all the times a year someone asked how you were doing (assuming you replied honestly and on the same scale), chances are your year can also be visualised as a beautiful gradient changing from dark to light to patches of dark and finding the light again. Many tiny cycles as the earth completes it’s revolution around the sun.

You could then overlay this information with other events. See the series of light blue blocks in row three? That’s the month I got married! A beautiful Danish summer, with the least rain we could have hoped for. Loved ones coming over from all over the continent and beyond. Tons of good food!

Let’s take a more holistic example of periods of travel and intense social engagement. While friends visiting for a week and having a week long conference can both feel intense in terms of increased social activity, the demands they place on us and the rewards we reap from them are quite different. The updated block under shows rows of social activity and travel under the mood scale from above.

The purple blocks are work travel, the ochre blocks are traveling for pleasure, the green blocks are people visiting us.

I was happy to see that neither kind of event made me rate the week as extremely stressful. However, the periods before and after were occasionally pretty dark on the mood scale. A nice reminder that the stress of planning and preparation or catching up on things after can take a toll. Those are the times, in 2023, I should mindfully lean on others around me.

Needless to say, I plan to continue this ritual into the new year, along with many other fun nuggets I plan to continue and explore with you. Here’s a sneak peak into 2023. If you enjoyed reading this, you may also enjoy an upcoming one about rituals in general. I love rituals and they keep me grounded through the many moves and changes life has to offer. If you’d prefer something tailored to your professional life I have two nice ones planned about peer mentoring and intercultural empathy. The former I’ve had platitude of success with and the latter is a daily universal struggle. If you miss the content from my days in academia, fear not, I also have some research in industry posts planned for you. All of this, as the present post and some past posts, will be accompanied with artworks where I can manage it. So subscribe here or follow me on Instagram to see all the content.

Today’s society is complex and everyone is going through a lot. Relationships are complex and identity in any sense of the word contains multitudes. If you also see the ambiguity of our everyday existence and would like to suggest a topic or a collaboration this year, do reach out!


  1. Dear Divya,

    it is awesome to see that you are reviving the blog! Thank you for sharing your experiences with mood tracking with us. I’ve been trying to do that on and off the last few years but would always forget to continue after a few weeks.

    For this year, my goal is to use my bullet journal predominantly for self-care and mindfulness. This encourages me to start mood tracking again!

    All the best for you and the blog going forward!

    1. Thank you Sophie!
      I’m using some of the bullet journal techniques this year too! Will keep you posted about them.

  2. Ahh so happy to be back here. This was insightful in a way I did not know I needed in my life. Thank you. I might take some inspiration from it in my own life this year.

  3. Color coding your moods thru the week, neat! Haven’t thought of that in my journaling but could be a great way to reflect and make space for some recovery. Thanks for sharing!

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