We’ve all been there. You have a situation in which you’ve been wronged in some way. It might be a series of inconsiderate drivers, loud neighbors, or a company that just can’t get their billing right. You’ve been wronged, you’re the injured party, and you’re fed up. Initially you might calmly, and even patiently, try to resolve the situation. It hasn’t gotten under your skin yet, but you’ve gotten to the point where you need to take action. But when nothing changes, your righteous indignation begins to bubble up. Your eyebrows raise, and you think, now wait a minute.
We all have people in our lives who seemingly know how to push our buttons—they are somehow able to get under our skin and threaten our peace and happiness. There may also be circumstances that invariably make us tense or irritable. Rather than denying that this is happening or resigning ourselves to these unpleasant feelings, we can use a variety of tools and perspectives to help us identify these conditions and address them. We can also make ourselves less susceptible to being impacted by these conditions. We can build a foundation of serenity through practices that stabilize our emotional reactions and make us aware of how we interact with the world. We can also be proactive about the elements in our lives to which we consistently have negative reactions. Finally, we can look inside ourselves and try to truly understand why we react the way we do and use that knowledge to mitigate our negative emotions.
Many people measure their lives by their mealtimes. Breakfast is the kickoff, lunch is the major break in the day, and dinner is a daily debrief and a closing out. This can be a good way to psychologically parse out the day and mentally check off the phases of our days as they go by. But for me, it’s more about the drinks and mainly a function of alcohol and caffeine. Coffee is a key psychological ingredient for me. It kicks off the day, is medicinal, and marks a transition. Water and other hydrating drinks follow and serve to wash down lunch. Tea in the afternoon marks the transition to the final phase of the working day. Last are the evening cocktail, wine with dinner, and a nightcap, during which I officially close out the day and my time is my own (more on that later). Though it is not conscious or intentional on my part, the drinking phases of my day are a critical aspect of how my days are structured and measured. This has good aspects as well as harmful ones.
We all have those days. Days when we wake up, get our coffee, sit down, and don’t feel like doing anything else. We begin to feel guilty, but inertia is fully in control. We may struggle with the battle between our need to do nothing and our responsibilities all day long. Why does this happen? It can happen because we had a terrible night’s sleep or because we drank too much the night before. It can happen because we’re upset about something and our emotions have immobilized us. It can also happen when we’ve been stressed or overwhelmed for an extended period of time and our bodies and psyches are shutting us down to reboot and recover. Whatever the reason, we should give this feeling the space it needs. We should consider why we feel like this and learn from it. On many, if not most, of the days when we feel like this, we should succumb to the feeling and go with it. We should veg out and give ourselves fully to going into standby mode. Our bodies and minds are often wiser than we are. When they speak so forcefully, we should listen.
Most things in life are cyclical. We have periods when everything goes our way and periods when nothing seems to go right at all. This is natural and normal. Rather than always waiting for the highs and bemoaning the lows, we need to expect and learn from the lows and fully experience and be grateful for the highs. There is always something beautiful, meaningful, and important in our lives, even in the lowest points.