We were stuck.
As far as the eye could see. Holiday traffic is always difficult to appreciate. Cars lined up on the freeway.
I started thinking that it would take us an extra hour to get home. The kids would need us to stop to pee or get a bite to eat. I could feel my neck and my shoulders tensing up.
It’s because I’ve been more mindful that I was able to notice this so quickly.
I’ve been much more aware of my thoughts since starting this book, but difficult situations still stress me out.
Then a few months ago I was reading a book about mindfulness and the author kept talking about how he used to think about things instead of enjoying the present moment.
He thought about how the airplane staff might not have his favorite drink because that’s what happened last time. He thought about how his doctor appointment was canceled and now he had to reschedule it. He thought about how his stomach was slightly upset and maybe should take some antacid, but he didn’t have any so he would have to buy them at the airport and pay too much for them.
It was a good to read, but he missed an important point.
It’s not just about thinking about too many things and being in the moment. Life is about how we handle these thoughts. How do we can use these thoughts as a springboard to make us feel happier.
For example if we think a thought like...
My stomach is a little upset and I have to buy medicine to help me feel better. I hope this goes away before tomorrow.
My doctor appointment was canceled. When is my next appointment going to be?
Or you can look at it from a place of gratitude.
My stomach is a little upset and I have enough money to buy antacids to help me feel better.
My doctor appointment was canceled so now I can finish writing my important message to my coworker or maybe do something fun in it’s place like a trip to my favorite store, park or spend time with my family during that time.
It’s finding ways to be aware of these thoughts. Accept them and focus on the potential positive in the situation so you can feel grateful instead of stressed out. Otherwise it’s easy to get worried and allow yourself to get too worked up over something that isn’t really a big deal.
Next time you see your thoughts start causing you stress try being grateful for them. Be appreciative of the situation and how you can use it your life.
This week I’ve been using a traffic jam to see if I can make someone laugh. I got a few people to laugh by sticking out my tongue and holding my thumbs to my temples and wiggling my fingers by doing the “Nanny Nanny Boo Boo” taunt.
It worked once. The other two times I got “you are crazy looks.” That’s ok. Giving the gift of laughter to one out of three people is a worth it.