Earlier this month, I had a good opportunity to mindfully experience frustration. The scenario got off to a start with me under-sleeping by about half an hour. Then, I discovered the sweatshirt I had planned to wear had a stain where it shows.
After a reasonable time of going through the rest of the morning routine, I booted up the old laptop. To my dismay, I discovered that WordPress had changed the composing editing function to what it is now. Since I had only a short post to write that day, it seemed like a prudent idea to return to the old classic editor. That’s when the lack of quality sleep and the inability to revert to the classic editor imploded my patience.
Because I was also in the middle of a homemade spiritual retreat, I was more easily able to pause the frustration cycle before it escalated out of control. I saw that a combination of events I could and could not control were at the root of what could have escalated into anger. I went for an early morning walk around a few blocks, during which I decided to abandon attempts to restore the classic editor. Why not just go ahead with learning the new set-up. The scenario had turned into a learning experience that dovetailed into my retreat.
Frustration isn’t always neatly limited to short-term events that can be resolved within a few hours. There is over-all frustration on the global scale in our modern world. On the one hand we have amazing technological progress coupled with ever-expanding knowledge about how stuff works. On the other hand are the multitudes of people who are left behind, who do not have access to modern-day information and tools we take for granted. There remains vast amounts of inequality at every level of society–within and among nations. The resulting, chronic frustration causes much of the instability in the world.
“A belief in hell and the knowledge that every ambition is doomed to frustration at the hands of a skeleton have never prevented the majority of human beings from behaving as though death were no more than an unfounded rumour.”–philosopher/writer, Aldous Huxley
Most of the time our anger and frustration levels simmer down and we are able to use our rational minds again. We remember that life is not an easy-breezy journey. Life presents us with many irritating things and people. It’s tempting to fall into the cycle of frustration and cynicism. We also remember that when a new idea about a solution comes to mind, we recoup our energies and are able to focus on remedying the problem. Often times, all it takes is a time-out. We can indulge in a mindfulness breathing exercise or take a time-out, like a walk around the block. The point being, to let go of feelings of persecution and baseness.
In my opinion, the experience of being a human being gives us beautiful moments of inspiration and uglier moments of frustration. It’s easy to want to cave into cynicism or defeat. However, sometimes we receive flashes of inspiration or an epiphany or eureka moment that are fueled by frustration. The human brain is funny that way.
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes avant garde artist, Yoko Ono. “This society is driven by neurotic speed and force accelerated by greed and frustration of not being able to live up to the image of men and women we have created for ourselves; the image has nothing to do with the reality of people.”