Life has a way of letting us know that we are not in charge. From minor irritations to major bugaboos, from one direction or another, stuff happens. I’m speaking mainly of the more or less minor things that irritate us, sometimes even ruining our day, the times when we’re apt to be told, or tell ourselves, “Get over it already,” “Just let it go,” or similar advice. Fine, but how can we do that? Here are five tools I’ve found work for me.
Understanding. We are all human, therefore we are all imperfect. If someone says or does something that irritates you, don’t take it personally, just take a moment to put yourself in their place. Everyone you meet has their own backstory of troubles, stressors and ills. Try to treat them as you would like to be treated if you were in their place.
Compassion. With practice at understanding others, genuine compassion develops. With compassion, you can actually set yourself up to be of service to those others. A kind word or just a smile to the harried sales clerks that can frustrate us so easily this time of year, for example.
Gratitude. It’s amazing how much better my life is when I cultivate and practice gratitude. Daily or weekly, take time to stop and reflect on the things that have happened for which you are truly grateful. Write them down in a daily or weekly Gratitude Journal.
The Serenity Prayer. For those situations where, as Forrest Gump said, “There just aren’t enough rocks,” this prayer works wonders. “Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” There may be a few exceptions, but nearly always I am the only thing I can change in a given situation. Like my recent situation with an ISP that hasn’t lived up to my expectations, together with a computer virus that has rendered my old laptop unsalvageable. Saying the prayer reminds me that there are some things I just have to accept and work with.
A Support System. “No man is an island,” and you need not try to be. Grow and nurture a support system of friends and family who will rally to your side with understanding, compassion and love when things start to become overwhelming.
These five tools go a long way toward keeping me centered and moving forward. I also have a few other tools I use which are specific to my spirituality. If you are a spiritual person, use the tools available in your religion or philosophy. Life is big and rough and unpredictable; grab all the tools you can, and remember to throw away those that don’t work.
How about you? What coping tools do you use to get over life’s speed bumps without banging your bottom on the pavement? Leave a comment and tell us about them.