Today I was on the way to the Saigon airport, tired after not sleeping much, trying to locate my lost laptop, feeling homesick and missing my wife. I wasn’t too happy.

I noticed this tiredness, this anxiety about the laptop, and the feelings of longing and being out of place. These feelings are all part of what the Buddhists call “suffering” or “dissatisfaction.” Basically, they’re life’s troubles — anger, frustration, disappointment, anxiety, loneliness, boredom.

And then I used self-compassion and gratitude to deal with these tough feelings:

  1. I noticed my difficult feelings (or “dissatisfaction”). They were giving me trouble.
  2. I gave these feelings some space — basically allowed them to exist in me without trying to ignore them or avoid them. Just pay attention to them.
  3. I then gave myself some compassion — wished myself happiness and an end to my dissatisfaction, gave myself love, and a hug. This is how you might help a child, or a friend — give some compassion to the person who is having difficulty. If we can do it for others, we can do it for ourselves.
  4. Next, I tried to notice as much about the current moment as possible — the energy of everything around me, the light and sounds and movement, how I was feeling inside, everything. Just be present with the energy of the moment.
  5. Finally, I tried to appreciate this current moment, and to be grateful for what I had in the moment.

I made a mental list of the things I was grateful for: to be able to travel, to spend time with my son, to have such a wonderful family, to do work I love, to have my health and eyesight and taste buds and ears to hear music and body to move around, to have life, to be able to appreciate this moment. These are all amazing things, and I’m grateful for them.

This is a method I recommend if you’re having trouble as well Do the five steps above, and see if it helps.

This method isn’t a way to ignore the troubles you’re going through, or to invalidate them. It’s perfectly fine to feel these difficult feelings. But this method helps you to deal with them in a more loving way, and to give yourself perspective and balance, seeing that there are wonderful things in your life too.