December 14, 2012

Conquering Frustration. ~ Kimberley Stokes

One sure-fire tip to turn your day around.

Frustration! Know the feeling? That intense annoyance that is just so hard to shake?

That is what I have been feeling all day. It started when I woke this morning with that sudden jump that only occurs when you subconsciously know its way past waking-up time and no alarm clock went off.

Then, I knocked the cereal box on the floor and Cheerios went flying in every direction. Then, three—count them: not one, not two but three—people cut me off while I was driving on the highway.

I got to my appointment, locked myself in the bathroom and took a few deep breaths.

“May I be filled with loving kindness…May I be calm and at peace…May I be filled with loving kindness…”

Deep breath in, deep breath out. Ok, I’m ready to get back to the real world.

“Sorry Mam, you here yesterday,” says the receptionist in her matter-of-fact tone. English isn’t her first language and I’m struggling to understand what exactly she means, so I simply responded “Huh? No, that wasn’t me, I wasn’t here yesterday”.

“Yes Mam, it say right here. Appointment yesterday. I guess you not come. You make mistake.” Oh my god, I think I might scream.

Before my frustration can boil up about the fact that I live and die by my calendar, that I specifically requested this day because it was the day that I was available and I would never have agreed to yesterday because I had an important meeting yesterday, I’m back in the bathroom.

“May I be filled with loving kindness…May I be calm and at peace…May I resist the urge to yell at the receptionist who’s telling me I made a mistake when really it was hers…”

What is going on, people? Why is the whole world out to get me?

And then it hit. And I laughed. The entire world is out to get me? Really, am I so important that everyone around me has conspired to ruin my day? Is life really just one big reality television show and I’m the star? Does everyone point me out to friends and say, “Oooh, there she goes. What can we do to trip her up?”

Of course not, what a ridiculous idea. You have to laugh at it.

I woke up today with impatience and agitation. Why? Who knows… maybe I had a bad dream, maybe I didn’t sleep well, maybe, maybe, maybe—but who really cares? We all have these days every now and again.

There’s no explanation, there’s no preventative measures, we just need to recognize that we’re a little off.

I mean, what happened that was so bad—I slept in? So? I dropped some Cheerios? So? I almost got into a few car accidents? It’s certainly better than actually getting into accidents. But logic wasn’t calming me down and I was still agitated.

Then, from somewhere deep within, I heard my mom’s voice: “Do something nice for someone you appreciate.” An angelic choir rang out in my head and I knew what I could do to turn my day around.

When I was a teenager, my mom used to give me this advice anytime that life seemed unfair, like if school was overwhelming or if I was suffering the break-up blues. She would write a task like “take flowers to someone nice” or “bake a batch of cookies for the receptionist at your school” on a piece of card and put it in an envelope.

Then, she’d give me a stack of envelopes (enough for a week or a month, however much she thought I needed) and told me to open one envelope each day and to do what it said. No procrastinating, no trading for a different task, no excuses. No thinking, just do it.

The theory is to turn a sad, mad or annoyed mood into one of gratitude and humility. Doing something nice for someone who isn’t expecting it makes us feel good. It not only makes his or her day, but your day as well.

So, taking her advice, I did a few things. I sent my mom some “you’re a rockstar” flowers. I bought my very-pregnant colleague a funny novel to take her mind off the I’m-about-to-burst feeling. And, I wrote a card to a friend from home that I missed, included a gift certificate for a latte and sent it by snail-mail.

It was just a few tiny little gestures.

And now I feel much better! People have little appreciations coming their way and I am back to feeling my calm and positive self. I’m focused on the good parts of today rather than the annoyances.

The world out to get me? Ha! Whatever. Life is good. I can handle whatever it throws at me.

So keep this little trick up your sleeve and next time you have a day of frustration, you know what to try—I guarantee it will help.


Kimberley Stokes is an adventurous and passionate management consultant-turned-entrepreneur, living in Dubai. A business-woman at heart, she invests in businesses that promote healthy living and healthy eating. She began practicing yoga in 2004 and qualified as an instructor in 2012. Kimberley’s philosophy is not to take life (or yoga) too seriously. Life is there to be lived and fully experienced—the ups and downs are all part of the package. Join Kimberley on Twitter, Facebook and on her new blog.


Editor: Seychelles Pitton

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