by Kelsey Marie Harris
Today I thought about endurance, and how it relates to mindfulness. I find myself practicing this in small ways. I’ll have an itch but I won’t scratch it. I make myself feel it. When it seems too much to bear I assure myself, it likely won’t itch 10 minutes from now. Then I tell myself, it definitely won’t feel this way a day from now, or a week. This has become a ritual for how I approach challenges in my life.
If I go for a run on a treadmill I focus on the clock. Some people would rather cover it up or distract themselves with music or a video, and that’s fine, but I need to see it. My ritual comes into play. As I approach 5 minutes, I tell myself I can definitely get to 10. 13 is around the corner. 13 is basically 15. If I can get to 15 I can get to 20, and so on.
When I have a disagreement with a loved one, I assess the severity of the dispute. If I know what we’re arguing about will likely not be an issue a week from now, I try my best to let go of my pride, agree to disagree, and move on with no hard feelings. I don’t try to prove that I’m right. I certainly don’t try to prove that they are wrong.
When we decide to make changes in our lives, we sometimes try to do it all at once. This can quickly lead to burn out and falling back into old habits. We beat ourselves up for what seems like personal failure. The endless pursuit of happiness can be exhausting. We’ve been taught that joy is the only feeling that matters and all our other “messy” feelings should be pushed down to make room for it. This kind of pressure is not conducive to growth and its taxing on our psyche.
Making small efforts while remaining present in the moment, even when it’s uncomfortable, builds my capacity to make bigger changes down the line. I’m not naive to assume this approach will work for everything, or for everyone; but it has helped me to be more mindful, to not disassociate as much, and to see things through to the end. These are not things that come easy for me, but I’m learning to not base my decisions on what’s easy anymore. True freedom means abandoning the things that make you comfortable, once you realize what’s comfortable isn’t always what’s healthy.