Grace and Equanimity
June 29, 2016 8:21 PM   Subscribe

How do I learn to live with a little more grace?

Life is good, and objectively I know that I am very lucky/privileged to be where I am. But lately I find myself getting easily irritated and impatient with the silliest, mundane things..(work stalls and frustrations, rude drivers, my own inability to cut down on my big to-do list, cat hair cat hair everywhere, dumb eyeliner that always smudges in this heat, everyone has their shit together it seems so why can't I get my shit together?!?! etc etc and you get the idea). Tackling these things is a whole separate issue, but I realized today that I'm turning into that grumpy person that constantly has a frown on her face, and no one likes that (especially not me!). I don't want that to become my unconscious default state. I want to have a more positive attitude, to approach frustrating situations with more grace/openness/optimism/encouragement--especially in my interactions with others.

What can I do to help me get perspective instead of focusing and getting annoyed about little everyday things? Are there any exercises/activities that can help cultivate this attitude daily? Volunteer? Books to read on the subject?
posted by sprezzy to Human Relations (12 answers total) 43 users marked this as a favorite
Metta or loving-kindness meditation has helped me to feel more compassion towards myself and others, calmer, and generally have more internal peace.
posted by saveyoursanity at 8:26 PM on June 29, 2016 [8 favorites]

Volunteering will definitely get mentioned, but the way you say, "Life is good...why can't I get my shit together?!" jumps out at me. Ever seen a therapist? Irritability is a classic symptom of depression.
posted by rhizome at 8:33 PM on June 29, 2016 [2 favorites]

First thing IMO is to eliminate obvious obstacles to grace. Are you sleeping well? Sleep is the #1 crabby vs happy making factor for me. Do you live in a city and have city-type daily hassles? Take a longer or later but calmer commute, spend time in a park, and add some plants to your home. (Also, go through this or this)
posted by cotton dress sock at 8:47 PM on June 29, 2016 [2 favorites]

Are you me?!?!?! Wow. I feel you!

I find that eating regularly (and well) makes a huge difference for me. I'll be taking the bus home from work, rolling my eyes at the shenanigans of my fellow passengers, pissed that the bus is running behind, grumpily thinking about all the tasks I have to accomplish before bedtime. Every person I come across annoys me. Then I realize I haven't eaten in hours. Sleep is equally important. I'm terrible about exercising regularly but I know this is also essential. I try to take care of the basics if I'm finding myself getting ticked off at every turn.

Best of luck!
posted by sucre at 9:04 PM on June 29, 2016

I was really inspired by a prayer attributed to Michelangelo: "Lord, free me of myself so that I may please You." The "free me of myself" part became a sort of mantra that I do my best to apply in my daily life, i.e. remembering to separate ego and emotions from reality when I approach difficult situations that test my patience and composure.
posted by tackypink at 1:11 AM on June 30, 2016 [7 favorites]

I am you! Two days ago, as I snapped at someone I cared about b/c I was so cranky, I decided this *has to stop*. I do not want this to be my default!

Things I am trying -
-self care (for me, this is sleeping, taking vitamins, etc)
-daily meditation (no "I'm too busy" or "I'll do it later" excuses, which is an issue for me)
-daily gratefulness exercise (listing several things that I am grateful for at the end of the day.)
-taking moments throughout the day to check in, and purposefully look at the way I am acting/responding to others and evaluating if those actions reflect the person I want to be, or not.
-trying to acknowledge that I am not responsible for everything & letting the small things go

I am calling it the Pollyanna Initiative, and am on day 2. (Because somehow, a fancy name makes it more fun!)
posted by needlegrrl at 2:50 AM on June 30, 2016 [11 favorites]

In addition to the great ideas above, I would suggest that you identify the gracious people in your own life and let them be role models. Not in an "I'm comparing myself to this person and falling short AGAIN" way, of course - just pay attention to how they respond to situations and what they say to people. I'm working on this myself, too, and when I can do so I find it really helpful to see people I respect responding well to situations that would have pushed my buttons - it helps me remember that less gracious reactions are a choice.
posted by DingoMutt at 5:13 AM on June 30, 2016

Volunteering got mentioned briefly upthread but allow me to expand on it.

Part of the reason that what you consider to be relatively small things are irritating you so much is because they matter a lot to you. Perhaps more than you would like? So what volunteering will do is twofold. Firstly, yeah it will give you a perspective boost, but more importantly, doing it will give you this sense of "I cannot be sucking too badly at life if I am being kind to people and giving of myself for their benefit, and here is a tangible example of me doing that".

I mean, lets be real - people think that volunteering is so altruistic, but it isn't. I benefit HUGELY from doing it, in lots of ways.

Don't be put off if you don't want to do a certain thing. There are many ways to volunteer your time and/or skills. See if you can find someone you know who does it, and get their suggestions on what might be best for you.
posted by greenish at 5:17 AM on June 30, 2016

I really get a lot out of my mudita practice. It's considered much harder than loving kindness (metta). Some say it is the hardest of the four immeasurables. It is definitely much harder than gratitude.

Mudita, in a nutshell, is vicarious joy, or the opposite of jealousy. When someone gets a good thing, or accomplishes a thing, it takes a lot of presence to celebrate that achievement.

Mudita has the very interesting effect of making me feel less bad (not better exactly, just less bad) about my own set backs and inconveniences. It gives me space to feel less annoyed about broken down buses and stubbed toes.
posted by bilabial at 6:24 AM on June 30, 2016 [4 favorites]

Must be something in the water because I've been feeling this way lately, too. In addition to gratitude journaling mentioned above, I've been doing my best to watch myself react to things when I'm pissed off or annoyed. When I react in a way that I give myself a pass on grace because I'm feeling sorry for myself, I consciously stop and remind myself that when grace REALLY matters is when you're not in a great state of mind and isn't that worth striving for? And then when I correct my state of mind, I really DO feel a little better because who enjoys being an asshole?

Laughing at anger or annoyance also helps. Caught in the middle of a pissing contest at work? Laugh because really, it can be quite funny what some people make the hills they're willing to die on. It's easier to put things in perspective when you laugh. It also creates a little mental distance which is also helpful.
posted by smirkette at 7:45 AM on June 30, 2016

I'm an endurance athlete (think marathons & triathlons) and over the last year or so I've been fairly injury-prone - went flying over the handlebars of my bike, rolled my ankle, etc. - and the weird thing about it was, each time something put me on the bench for a while it didn't bother me. In a way it just wiped away the little annoyances/obligations and forced me to look at what does really matter (my relationships, my personal security, my ability to heal) and even though I was limping or whatever, I was generally happy.

I'm not saying "go out and fall off a scooter" (I've done it twice this year. It's quite painful!) but consider running through the mental exercise of "How would I cope if X were to happen?" "What would I do if I couldn't do Y?" "Could I just do entirely without Z?" Hope that helps.
posted by psoas at 2:46 PM on July 5, 2016

I wish I could attribute this properly, but someone on Metafilter once posted the following advice for dealing graciously with grumpy people:

"Assume that they are really hungry, really thirsty, really tired, or really have to poop."

I've found that it more often than not applies for myself as well.
posted by taltalim at 9:22 PM on July 5, 2016

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