Replace frustration with appreciation

Who I am
Robert Maurer

Author and references

Frustration consumes us on a slow fire. It condemns us to dissatisfaction because, by preventing us from thinking clearly, it plunges us into an insane cycle from which we cannot get out.

We get frustrated when reality doesn't match our expectations, which happens very often. We can feel frustrated by small daily setbacks or major obstacles that we had not foreseen and that threaten our projects.

Frustration is a perfectly normal reaction to setbacks and adversity. We don't have to feel guilty. But if we don't learn to overcome it, if we don't learn to manage frustration, we run the risk of it becoming one of the main emotions of our life.

And this means that we surrender power to all those people or situations we encounter on our path. To regain control of our lives, we must learn to manage frustration. Not with tolerance but with appreciation.

Tolerate frustration?

When we are looking for a solution to frustration, the word tolerance always appears. "You have to learn to tolerate frustration," they tell us. However, the word "tolerate" comes from the Latin tolerare, which means to endure.

Coping with frustration isn't the same as dealing with frustration. When we endure something we take a passive role, we resign ourselves. When we manage something we take an active role, we take the reins and decide which is the best path.

A key step in managing frustration is appreciation. Indeed, appreciation is a very effective antidote for frustration.

Don't let frustration blind you

Being frustrated is like wearing blinders. Suddenly our field of vision narrows considerably because we only see the obstacle or setback. It's a tunnel vision that makes everything around us disappear, all the good things, so we only see the negative.

Tolerating frustration means getting used to that tunnel vision. The problem is that by dint of setbacks and adversity, that perspective will become increasingly narrow, until it turns us into embittered and pessimistic people.

With appreciation, on the contrary, we broaden our vision. By remembering all the good and good things in our life, we unlock fullness and automatically expand our field of vision.

This does not mean that the problem or obstacle will disappear. They will still be there. But they are likely to become just a small point on the horizon. As we expand our perspective, the obstacle that once seemed immense shrinks, so we can see it in the right perspective. Thus, by taking away part of the emotional impact it will be easier for us to overcome it.

Gratitude is a decision we must make every day

Gratitude transforms denial into acceptance, chaos into order, and confusion into clarity. It gives us peace today and creates a vision for tomorrow.

But gratitude doesn't come by itself, it's a decision we need to make consciously every day. While it is one of the simplest things in life, it requires effort and intentionality, especially in a world designed to fuel our dissatisfactions and frustrations in order to make us perfect consumers and manipulable citizens.

Appreciation and gratitude, on the other hand, give us back our power. The power to decide our emotional states, how we will react and even if that obstacle is really a problem or an opportunity.

Gratitude is a powerful tool. Studies, carried out at the universities of George Mason and Michigan, have revealed that gratitude protects us from the post-traumatic stress caused by a particularly difficult situation and allows us to respond with resilience.

Appreciating what we have not only increases our mental strength, but is one of our best weapons for "endurance" in an uncertain world where obstacles await us around every corner.

After all, "We can only say that we are alive in those moments when our hearts are aware of our treasures," said novelist Thornton Wilder.


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