Mindful with Irene (17)

This week: Goodbye irritation, hello contemplation.

Well, there I was, having just written about not having enough good intentions, when someone told me last weekend that he had decided not to get annoyed by things anymore, but to deliberate on them instead. And I found that a such beautiful goal that I decided to take it on myself as my own good intention.

And it’s actually pretty useful, because it’s safe to say that I’m a champion in the field of “it irritates me”. Which, of course, is a hugely frustrating characteristic to have—one that, rather ironically and annoyingly, irritates me even further—and that is rather challenging to remedy. As a perfectionist and über-regulator, I ensure that pretty much everything is always done the way it should be and on time, and it annoys the hell out of me when I see others who don’t manage, or arrange, their affairs the same way. Take organizing children’s birthdays, for example–a task that I’m currently busy with. I always give myself plenty of time so as to ensure that the whole flow (party-food-invitations-gifts-and anything that comes with it) heads in the right direction. Which, to be honest, really irritates me, because why should I have to always be the one to organize everything? Why should all the responsibility fall on my shoulders?

But now, I have taken a different approach; rather than letting it annoy me, I’ve reflected upon it. I found that it takes up a lot less energy and space in my head. Last week, I pondered on how others (think ex) deal with such a birthday, about how relaxed they are, about how much can actually get done in the last days before the celebration. And as I did so, I was rewarded with the insight that, with all my painstaking planning, I was actually depriving others of the chance to arrange something themselves too. And that, ultimately, I was getting myself all annoyed about nothing.

Contemplation. It’s a beautiful word. And it’s my word for 2016.

Irene Smit (46), together with Astrid van der Hulst, is the founder of Flow Magazine. Irene lives with her children (9 and 13, co-parenting) in Haarlem, the Netherlands.