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Mindfulness and Christmas tree lights

“I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he or she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.”

– Maya Angelou

Mindfulness can help you handle stresses of all shapes and sizes.

Coping just about OK with all the huge things that life throws your way? Got through one or more of the ‘big three’ (bereavement, divorce or moving house) recently or in the distant past?

All seems fine, and then, from nowhere – wham! Something trivial like retrieving the Christmas tree lights (they’re working – hurrah!) only to want to throw them against the wall with frustration. All those knots. (And where did they come from, anyway? I know I packed them away neatly last year!) Things like this can hit hard and be all the more crazy-making for it.  After all, you’re dealing with all the other stuff.

When it seems like the small things are tripping you up, making you feel exasperated, exhausted, anxious or depressed, then try these three things:

  1. Take yourself out of the situation as soon as you can. Go to another room, pace around with as much gusto as you can muster. And then look at something you love, see if you can catch yourself admiring the cleverness with which your body is getting rid of all that frustration coming from your mind, and when you’re ready … just be amazed at all that energy you’ve just produced.
  2. Focus on your breathing. Not in order to calm you down (that’ll happen anyway), but just for the sake of it. You’re alive! This outburst of annoyance hasn’t killed you. Take at least a couple of breaths to acknowledge the miracle of just being here, with whatever comes and goes. And whatever comes will definitely go.
  3. Do something that makes you smile. And wish yourself well. Wish others well. Express a silent wish that all the explosive anger in the world can dissipate like smoke in the breeze. And that everyone can share the intelligent sense of calm that cools anger rather than inflames it. (Imagine what the world will be like then!)

Of course, when you’re in free-fall it’s best to have already have woven your parachute and be able to deploy it. That’s where training in mindfulness can help.

Find out more about how mindfulness can help you deal with the difficulties of trivia (as well as the big stuff) here.

And tell me in the comments below what’s blown your fuse recently. Did you use any of the three tips above instinctively? Or can you try them now (before the fuse blows) and let me know how you feel?

JoMindfulness and Christmas tree lights
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  • Michaela Welz - 16/07/2014 reply

    Wise words. Mindfulness Practice really works and definitely makes a difference to my “Christmas light situations”, big and small. I have tried the pacing and found myself laughing after a while and being able to turn to myself with more compassion and care. Mindfulness practice also helps to turn towards the tangled mess, to look at it, even welcome it and stay with it so we can see through it much easier and untangle whatever it is gently and calmly. I genuinely belief that the world would be a better place if everybody could learn how to unfold their mindful and compassionate nature.

  • Tracey - 03/12/2015 reply

    Thanks Jo, I love the concept of ‘weaving my parachute ready to deploy’ in times of stressful situations and find that I turn to at least one of the three things you recommend. Gratitude helps me too, at least I have a Christmas Tree to put lights on (even if they are broken!). Thanks for the reminder.

    Jo - 03/12/2015 reply

    Tracey, that feeling of genuine gratitude is so great, isn’t it? As we’ve heard Jon Kabat-Zinn say in his approach to mindfulness: “As long as you’re breathing, there’s always more right than wrong with you.” I find that helps, too, as it helps put everything into perspective … even the disappointment of broken tree lights! 🙂

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