Although it may seem ridiculous, turning irritation into mindfulness will allow you to quickly get over an annoying incident and be much happier in the end.

Recently, I was given this challenge at home.

My daughter, who had her hair dyed pink, took a shower and left the white subway-tiled bathroom magenta. Not just the tile, but the white grout as well. It was a mess. When I saw this, I was overcome by irritation. I had not asked for a pink bathroom!

But as I was scrubbing bleach all over (thankfully it was working!), I started to pay extra attention to the tiny details in the grout, in the tiles and eventually to my breath. When I had finally gotten the shower back to white, I felt slightly exhausted from the physical exertion of scrubbing, but also completely calm from the total focus I gave to the activity.

Here are five situations you may find yourself in that prove to be good opportunities to be more mindful.

1. Standing in line at the department store, and the person in front of you decides to open up a new credit card account. Breathe in. Breathe out. Stand tall and pull your belly into your spine. Practice good posture.

2. Sitting in traffic when you’re already 10 minutes late to your appointment. Open your eyes wide. Notice what’s going on around you. Observe your surroundings and see it all.

3. Cleaning up a broken glass that’s shattered into many pieces all over your kitchen. Slow down. Bring your attention into your body and engage your muscles as you bend down and lift back up to throw the glass away.

4. Approaching an elevator that shuts right in your face. Think about the people already inside the elevator. Send them compassionate thoughts. Then think of everybody in the building and wish them all well.

5. Your alarm goes off at the usual time, but you had a terrible night of tossing and turning so you feel awful. Remember all the good you’ve created in your life. Be grateful for your body, your relationships and your health.

Too often we allow our upsetting thoughts to drag us deeper into an agitated state. But instead we can practice using that irritation as a reminder to return to the present.

What was the last annoying experience that you were able to flip the script and be more mindful instead of irritated? —Elysha



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