Accepting the gift that is given when it's not what we want
Updated: Jul 11, 2018
As we all know, life does not always go the way we’d like it to. This can come in the form of both big and little things. Practicing with little things not going our way may help prepare us for when it comes to bigger things, like a partner walking out on us or unexpectedly losing a job. How can mindfulness help us to make these experiences more manageable?
A small example from this morning. I have a weekly ritual I enjoy of going to my favorite bakery to pick up a few things. Everything I’ve tried at this bakery I’ve loved, and like all humans, I also have preferences. I asked about the scones, carefully considered the three options, and settled on jalapeno cheddar. It would go great with my eggs! I was looking forward to it. When I got home and unpacked my scone, what I got instead contained raisins, and I deduced this must be “trail mix.” So quickly my mind jumped to a story about an intentional retaliation on the part of the otherwise pleasant and friendly worker who was clearly holding resentment toward me for my honest, though not particularly kind, comment last week about “not feeling the scone options today” (“trail mix” was among those options). I considered my current options: I could go back; I could call; I could complain; I could dwell in anger and generate ill will… I realized I didn’t want to take the time: my day was already off to a later start than I would have preferred. And then it occurred to me, pay attention to what is really going on.
In mentally jumping so quickly into story, I realized that actually I had missed the experience I was actually having. What was I feeling? I paused and let myself momentarily feel and name the disappointment and anger beneath and driving my thoughts. “Ok,” I said to myself, “so I didn’t get what I wanted, I got something else instead. What do I do with this?” Could I open further to allowing myself to have the unique experience this particular scone offers, accepting the gift that was given?
Pausing to note my thoughts and feelings actually helped me to let go of the story and reconnect to the flow of direct experiencing that is living mindfully. “It doesn’t really matter what happened,” I told myself, “This is what is.” And while I would have liked it to have turned out another way, this is the scone I’ve got and can I experience what it has to offer? All in all, the scone was pretty good, not what I wanted, but good for what it was-oats, almond slivers, raisins (and more).