For Mindfulness When Things Go Wrong, Call AAA

When Americans get a flat tire, we call the American Automobile Association (AAA). When something unexpected happens to us in life, we would be wise to call on AAA as well. That is, the AAA of self-awareness: Accept what is. Allow what you feel. Act if you can. This is a practical manifestation of mindfulness: one of the key tools at our disposal for developing emotional intelligence.

In my book The Three Dimensions of Emotions: Finding the Balance of Power, Heart and Mindfulness, I refer to an idea that I heard when listening to a lecture by Eckhart Tolle (most known for his best-selling book, The Power of Now). I would summarize it like this: Accept what is externally real, just as it is. Honestly allow what you feel internally about the situation. Then take action if and when you can.

If you or I could practice this in response to the inevitable (if not daily) things that “go wrong,” we would have a categorically better life. These things could be on any scale from something small (a traffic jam or dropping your favorite mug) to something large (having a serious disease or grieving the loss of a loved one). And these things can go wrong in any life space, whether at home with a spouse, at work leading a difficult team on a challenging project, or in any other sphere. So how can we take practical steps to apply this mindful approach?

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