We all want the chance for major transformation — to have a major life-altering insight, a cathartic moment that changes us forever or to get a feeling, like of being inspired, loved or valued — that would make our life magically improved. So we look for those big moments. The ones that are replete with huge cathartic potential – when we’re on the edge of a breakdown, in inconsolable tears, on the brink of a success or failure.
But it’s in the small moments too, that transformation lurks. Like when you get upset because you can’t find your keys. Or if the dress you wanted sold out. We have no patience for our upset-ness in these moments. We think we’re stupid and ridiculous when we feel pain here. But usually, most of our angst hangs on these, and not in the bigger moments.
Yes, it’s in these small moments that most of your angst hangs. That’s the way it works: your suffering lurks all over the place. Suffering is around the corner, waiting for your heart to lunge towards it reflexively – embracing you in it’s familiar arms, leaving you breathlessly agitated sometimes.
And these are all the moments you tell yourself you shouldn’t be having these feelings. These are the feelings you don’t want to have, and that you don’t want your family or friends to have. Because they are petty, stupid, and unnecessary.
But in fact, the moments of suffering that you tolerate the least, are ones that matter most.
These moments – the ones we dismiss because we don’t like ourselves for having them, are where you need to focus your attention. These often are the places you need comfort most — precisely because they are the places where you like yourself the least. But you didn’t ask to have these feelings. They are simply there.
So now, try something new. Instead of dismissing these small angst moments as inconsequential — as the result of how petty and spoiled you are — listen to your feelings in a new way. In a way that leads to comfort instead of disparagement. In a way that is patient, instead of dismissive. In a way that is compassionate and not judgmental.
If you can seek from others and create for others some comfort in these small moments, you will find that it is in these moments that real transformation happens. A feeling of comfort. That life can hold you in its embrace instead of kick you in the rear. This is what strengthens. It’s a simple as that.
So the next time dinner burns, or your child has to come home sick, or your spouse won’t look up from the computer to greet you or some other — very insignificant — thing happens to make you miserable, be compassionate towards yourself. It’s in that patient place of compassion towards yourself, over how much suffering those silly moments cause, that you’ll be changed.[If you can’t find compassion towards yourself, take yourself to the next question: why? This is an opportunity for self-study. Read “Where’s My Sanity?” for starters, and then, start plotting change.