|Gratitude to Overcome Boredom, Difficulties, Complaining, & Feeling Overwhelmed
By Leo Babauta
As many give thanks for what’s in their lives this week, we might look at how to go deeper with gratitude.
“Gratitude” seems like a trite and even perhaps boring topic to many — we all know we should be grateful.
And yet, there are ways that we aren’t cultivating gratitude … and our lives could be much easier, even richer, if we did use gratitude in these deeper ways.
Let’s take a few examples.
I was talking to a friend recently about how she doesn’t like to stay in stillness and quiet, because it feels boring. She realizes this probably isn’t good for her, as she often feels the need to move, to keep busy. And she’d like to learn to be more present, slow down at times.
The answer to boredom is gratitude.
Let’s think about a situation: you turn off your phone, get away from the computer, and go sit outside with no book, no device, no one to talk to, nothing to do.
You just sit there.
How useful is that? How interesting? How productive? You might answer “not at all” to these questions, and it might seem boring. But I believe that’s because we’re not 1) paying close enough attention, and 2) appreciating the gift of that moment.
If I’m sitting alone with nothing to do, I might have the urge to get up and go do something, or reach for my phone. But what if, instead, I could pay attention to how my body feels, the texture of my breath, the light all around me, the nature sitting right in front of my face, the sounds of the world busy in activity. The vibrant colors, the life that’s struggling to survive and thrive. The feeling of just being alive.
The closer I pay attention, the more I might realize what a gift this is. The more I might appreciate the preciousness of it all.
Gratitude trumps boredom, if we let it.
We usually think of difficulties as something we don’t like, and they cause us unhappiness: a difficult person we’re dealing with, the loss of a job, struggling with a health issue, losing a loved one.
And it’s true, these are not things we normally think of as “good.” I’m not claiming we should rejoice at having these problems.
But is there a way we can find gratitude for them, nonetheless? Is there a way to see them as a gift?
Gratitude can be found even in our struggles:
Difficulties are not easy to find gratitude for … but they can become incredible paths of growth and learning, if we see the lesson in them. If we start to see everything as our teacher, especially the pain and struggle.
Many of us have the mental habit of complaining — about a situation, about another person. We might not even realize we’re doing it, but everytime we feel a bit of resentment, this is a form of complaining. And it’s a good way to waste our lives.
Gratitude is the antidote for resentment, irritation, frustration and complaining.
Each time you notice yourself feeling resentment, or complaining, notice that you have a story in your head that’s causing the feeling of resentment. Notice that you’re letting this storyline fill your head. And then find a way to be grateful.
Drop the habit of resentment and complaining each time you notice it. Choose the gratitude habit instead. See what a difference it can make.
Many days we can feel stressed and overwhelmed, especially in the holiday season when we add social events, shopping, family gatherings, cooking and decorating to our already busy lives.
How can we deal with this feeling of overwhelm?
By being grateful for everything in our lives that’s overwhelming us. By cherishing each thing in our to-do list, each person making a request by text or email, each event that’s stressing us out. Each of these is an absolute gift, and to be overwhelmed is to complain about these gifts. To find appreciation for each one of the gifts is to let go of the stress and to find the love in the chaos instead.
November 24, 2017