Here at the colony on our mission to do Whatever It Takes, we run into frustration a lot, and mostly she is a bitch.
If you have had a bad day a la Alexander and his terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day tale, all I can say is I feel ya. Mr. Burrows and ShirleyJacksonCat also feel ya.
The thing about frustration is she has many allies. Stubborn is one of her best friends. You know the guy that coaxes your belly fat to stick around even though it prefers grease and sugar, and all you have been feeding it is insane amounts of kale. Misfortune, a.k.a bad luck, is also part of the gang. He’s liable to come at the exact moment you gave up dental coverage and chip your tooth. The money you saved for a weekend at the beach so you can relax, misfortune will try and find away to take that from you. Doubt is frustration’s mistress. She always shows up just when you are ready to go, so that instead of you getting on your way, you have to stop and deal with that asshole.
If you are acquainted with this cast of characters, and would like to get away from them, here are some strategies we at the colony have come up with…
1. Run away. Frustration tends to rear it’s ugly head when you sit still. He will come and sit on your lap, which doubt will mention seems to be expanding, despite your best efforts to be healthy. Doubt will try to convince you to give up and stuff your face with Oreos. Resist. Go for a jog, dance around your kitchen, we are particularly fond of this activity, go to yoga, whatever. Just get on the move.
2. Shout an expletive. Literally. Tell frustration to go and fuck herself, and to get the hell away from you. There is allegedly some research which states that cursing releases endorphins in the same way that exercise does. We here at the colony are not scientists, nor do we claim to be. ( I’m sure this is a shock considering how well I just scientifically explained myself). But we have tested it and it seems to work.
3. Forget about results. Like Miley Cyrus sings, “it’s the climb.” Having listened to that song a million times when my little girls were obsessed with Hannah Montana, I know the lyrics by heart.
Not about how fast I get there. Not about what’s waiting on the other side. It’s the climb.
I’m so glad I decided not to throw myself into oncoming traffic after I heard that song for seventieth thousand time back in the day, because now that I know that frustration feeds off of unmet expectations and dashed hopes and dreams, I realize keeping the dream in the present thwarts frustration and provides greater happiness. If I’m happy, for instance, today writing, it’s not so critical that I find success through publication. That’s the goal, of course, and it would be nice- but at the end of the day, I won’t be as frustrated if I fall short because I love the process, and each day that I get to do it is it’s own reward. When I studied philosophy, one of the concepts I found most attractive was that happiness comes from pursuing things that are ends in themselves. Do what you do because you love it- not because you want a specific result. This will paralyze frustration.
4. Treat yourself everyday. I’m not saying go out and buy a Louis Vuitton whenever you please, but little things…you can hold out on some rewards for when you achieve your goal, but don’t live in a constant state of deprivation until you accomplish whatever you are working towards.
5. Go easy on yourself. Like Alexander, we all have bad days. Sometimes frustration brings depression over for a little stay cation, and you can barely get out of bed. You shove your face full of fattening food, and you only look forward to the moment you can get back into bed. It’s ok. If you beat yourself about it, you will likely do it more often at which point it might impede your success. If, however, you cut yourself some slack, and say I had a bad day, I’m not going to quit because of it, frustration will be less likely to hang around. Tell frustration to go fuck herself and remind her tomorrow you will be back and ready to go.
Btw, I making progress on the to do list. Hope for the same for those of you committed to noble pursuits!