Slippery Road Sign

4 Tips for Taking the Bumps in Stride

By Jonathan Ruth

Someone pulls out in front of you on your way to work, despite the fact there’s not a car behind you for a quarter mile.

You’re in a hurry to pick up those last-minute items for the party, and the person in front of you in the express lane is 12 items over the limit. You know because you counted!

You have 30 minutes to get the weed-eating done, and 10 minutes in, you run out of spooled line.

You get the picture. We face so many frustrations in our fast-paced lives. Sometimes, before we know it, the tiniest thing turns into the proverbial straw, the camel’s back breaks and your pent-up frustration results in a nuclear meltdown on some unsuspecting soul who gets caught in the fallout!

It’s a fact that we’ll face major struggles in life, and the ability to walk through those situations successfully is a topic for another time. But what about the pesky little problems that we encounter numerous times every day? Wouldn’t it be nice if we could improve our ability to handle these situations?

Focusing on what you can change rather than on what you can’t change is a sign of strong mental health.

With that in mind, here’s a look at some tips for taking the bumps in stride.

Slow down! Most of us are too busy and too impatient! These appendages we call cell phones have changed us. We expect instant news, instant text replies, instant streaming videos, etc. No wonder standing in the checkout line five more minutes seems unbearable. All this instant gratification creates unreasonable expectations in our minds. It’s a problem. If you don’t believe me, search for “cell phone disorders” sometime. Here are some ideas for slowing down your life:

  • Block 30 minutes to take a walk. Don’t run…don’t power-walk…just walk.
  • Take 10 minutes and intentionally sit still. Clear your mind. Focus on your breathing rhythm. Aim for deep, relaxed breaths.
  • Meditate on an image, a phrase or a passage of Scripture.
  • Finally—if you’re feeling really brave—turn your phone off for a few hours!

Choose personal power. There is dynamic empowerment in choice. Whoever said it first was right, “Your response is your responsibility.” Regardless of what life throws at you, you get to choose how you respond. That is an incredible gift! When you choose your response, you refuse to play the victim and wrestle back your power. The next time something upsets you, decide to own your response and choose to act positively. It will feel good—I promise—and the more you do it, the easier it will become.

Give yourself time to fume…then let it go. Create a private space and make a bargain with yourself. You can be upset about it for five minutes, but when the clock runs out, it’s over. Be upset, but learn to let it go. If it floats through your mind again, that’s OK. Just choose—there’s that choice thing again—not to dwell on it. As Martin Luther said, “You cannot keep the birds from flying over your head, but you can keep them from building a nest in your hair.”

Laugh! Grab your spouse, children, family or friends and go do something fun. Text a joke to a friend. Whatever it takes! Getting angry takes energy. So does laughing. Why not choose the one that makes you feel better when it’s over?

I hope you find these ideas helpful and wonder if you have any other tools for dealing with life’s little frustrations. If so, post them in the comments so we can help each other.


Jonathan RuthJonathan Ruth   Contact   Website
UT System Administration

Jonathan is a two-time UT graduate and currently works in the IRIS Administrative Support department. He’s also a life coach and has a passion for helping others. He loves spending time with family and friends and is certain he played on the PGA Tour in another life.

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Posts represent the views, expertise and recommendations of their authors and do not necessarily reflect an endorsement by the University of Tennessee. Furthermore, the content of the blog is for informational purposes only. The content of the blog is not, and is not intended to be used as, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.