One of the most significant and delightful effects of my mindfulness practice over the past 15 years is that I am much less of a ‘grumpy bum’ than I used to be.
I’m particularly aware of it at this very moment because today was the typical perfect storm for stress.
After three months abroad, my man and I were meant to be flying home right now but alas, after getting up at 4am and lugging our stuff to the airport, we found our flight times had changed resulting in a missed connection to Sydney and over $1000 in flight change fee’s -ouch!
Since we can’t get home for a couple of days we then had to quickly figure out some accommodation, rent a car and then pack our luggage in it once again…then we got a flat tyre!!
No doubt it’s a challenging situation, but as I sit here in our cheapo hotel room and reflect, I realize that although it wasn’t what I would have chosen to happen, these events didn’t really affect my mood at all. Why?
Because as long as I am able to remain mindful there is a deep peace and contentedness that stays with me no matter what is happening on the surface of my life; and this morning I remained mindful during all that went on.
I’m not saying I have totally mastered mindful living. There are still certain times in my life where I unconsciously slip into ‘grumpy bum mode’ and find myself sullen, impatient or stressed, but fortunately this doesn’t happen very often any more.
In fact, as I grow in mindfulness, negativity in all its expressions (boredom, irritation, jealousy, anger, sadness, restlessness, regret, fear, self consciousness, worry and more) seems to be receding more and more from my experience of daily life.
I used to ‘sweat the small stuff’ a lot more. I was especially prone to impatience, regret and stress. I was discontent without even knowing it, always trying to get somewhere instead of living in the here and now. I was being a grumpy bum without even realizing it a lot of the time!
So what is the difference between now and then? How did mindfulness transform my stress, struggle and discontent into a deep and consistent sense of peace?
How can you experience the same? Author Dennis Merrit Jones gives this great visual example of what mindful living looks like and why it takes away grumpiness….
“Consider this image. With pen and paper, draw a long horizontal line. Consider that line as your “doing” – whatever it is you do that moves forward from left to right, linearly, moment to moment, hour to hour, and day to day.
Then draw a vertical line that intersects with the horizontal line and think of that vertical line as your “being.” Consider any point on the horizontal line to the left of the vertical line as the past and anything to the right the future.
Now draw a small circle around the point where the two lines intersect. Think of the inside of the circle as the present, where your being merges with your doing.
To consciously live inside that small circle is called the practice of mindfulness.
To spiritualize this practice is to witness the true self (your being) vertically ascending from the depths of your spiritual core and becoming fully present in that circle as it moves along the horizontal pathway of your life.
In this context, mindfulness means that you are aware that you are more than the experience at hand on the surface of life. You are the essence of that which is ascending from the sacred centre of your true self.
This awareness alone will dissolve all sense of grumpiness because with it comes reverence, which is the act of making all that we think, say and do a sacred practice.”
So you see, it’s extremely difficult to be both grumpy and mindful at the same time. Negativity doesn’t seem to creep in when you’re in the midst of having a ‘spiritual’ experience!
Mindfulness (the vertical line) connects us to something deeper, more essential and sacred in our lives.
It connects us to the whole web of life. Immersed in this sense of connectedness and its accompanying feelings of well-being and joy, the individual situations and circumstances of life (horizontal line) don’t seem so significant and stressful – they are much less likely to affect your state of being when things become challenging.
You’re not looking to the horizontal line for fulfilment either. You already feel the fulfilment of simply abiding in ‘being-ness’ and therefore are not a grumpy bum!
Do you often find yourself stressed, resentful, worried or impatient? Are there other ways you become sullen or ill tempered?
Do you still believe you need to shuffle your life circumstances around or get ‘more’ of something before you can feel ok?
Do you tell yourselves stories about the causes of your grumpiness being ‘out there’ (for instance, what should or shouldn’t have happened or what’s missing from your life)?
The truth is grumpiness is almost always caused by losing touch with the vertical dimension of your life.
If you lose touch with your deepest essence, you become prone to go seeking happiness were it cannot be found. You don’t feel at ease or whole any more. Your mind becomes busy and restless. Can you relate?
In my personal experience, the marvellous art of mindful living is the ultimate, true and lasting cure for grumpy bum syndrome. (I’m sure my loved ones are so very grateful I practice mindfulness!).
Have you experienced the same effect of mindfulness in your own life? Do you have any questions, comments or stories you’d like to share on this topic? Jot them down in the comments section below. I love hearing from you!