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Mindfulness in Costa Rica – Dealing with daily trials

In order to find genuine happiness and lead empowered lives, we must first begin to live in the moment, which can be challenging. Mindfulness practices can help you cultivate this lifestyle by encouraging you to bring your awareness back to the present moment and focus your attention on one thing at a time. This column aims to open a space for readers to ask questions and receive answers from a mindful perspective.

Q: How do I keep my temper in check when I get so annoyed with the traffic, drivers, holes in the road and overall frustrations with the “bureaucracy” of Costa Rica?

A: I am sure your question touches a sore spot for a lot of people. Road rage is no joking matter, and combined with unforeseen road conditions it is a recipe for a definite adrenaline rush when you get angry or annoyed. The question is how to avoid falling into your own personal “pothole,” the momentary adrenaline rush, which is full of negative consequences for your body.

A wise quote by Jiddu Krishnamurti states, “The highest form of intelligence is the ability to observe without evaluating.”

What does this have to do with your “annoyance factor?” When you use mindful observation – simply watch – in situations like large trucks or buses on the road slowing down traffic, and refrain from reacting, you witness without judging. It is the judging that creates the internal battle and emotional reaction.

Here are some mindfulness skills to help you keep your cool:

  • Take a deep breath and relax. Your annoyance will not make the traffic move any faster.
  • Utilize your time in the car to increase positive feelings, with good music or conversations.
  • Flip your judgment into appreciation by focusing on what you have to be grateful for in your life (e.g., “I appreciate that I have a car to drive”).
  • Choose a plan of action. If there is a way to facilitate change, it will help you feel more in control (e.g., write a letter to the city requesting holes be fixed).
  • Ask yourself honestly if your annoyance, anger or frustration will resolve the problem; if the answer is no, it doesn’t serve you to waste the energy.

Natalie Garvey D., M.Psych., is a California native and an eight-year resident of Costa Rica. Recognized by the Costa Rican Professional Psychologists Association (4496), she dedicates her professional time to accompanying others on their path of self-discovery and healing.

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