“Blocks to satisfaction drain our energy – things we put up with and endure, usually come in a variety of sizes,” according to Williams and Menendez (2015). The following is an excerpt from the text Becoming a Professional Life Coach (2015) on the differences between life’s gnats and sufferings:
“Category 1: The Little Annoyances – Life’s Gnats
We usually just brush them off, as we do gnats at a picnic. We ignore them, unaware that these annoyances tax our attention and energy. If they felt more like bees or even mosquitos, we might do something about them. Mostly, we just deal with them.
Gnats are things such as messy closets and work shelves that keep us from finding things, a crowded garage, unfinished marketing brochure, car that needs a tune-up, broken lock, and dry cleaning to take in for winter storage.
Most of us tend to tolerate these until they accumulate and really bug us. Then we get so annoyed that we finally do something about them. Unfortunately, they may have grown to quite a massive size by that time. At that point, they may have moved into Category 2.
Category 2: The Big or Chronic Complaints – Life’s Sufferings
These issues create tension and crowd us. We are conscious of how they diminish the quality of our life. We probably just accept them as normal because we do not know how to effectively handle them.
Sufferings might be related to long work hours as we start a new business. We cannot delegate because our staff is not well-trained. Our demanding clients call us at all hours, Our child is upset and says, “You don’t ever come to my soccer games, Dad!” We do not take vacations. We do not have time to talk – to share deeply – with our spouse. We have stopped exercising. Our 83-year-old forgetful mother needs more attention than we can afford.
Although gnats and sufferings are a part of life, we do not have to be helpless or passive in the face of them. As the Buddha said, life is 10,000 joys and 10,000 sorrows. Every human being must expect to participate in both. In fact, the first Noble Truth of Buddhism is “to live is to suffer” – sorrow is the universal experience of mankind. This teaches us we do not need to create sufferings – there will be plenty of it. The goal is to accept and embrace it, and move beyond – that is where growth occurs” (Williams & Menendez, 2015).
Menendez, D. S., & Williams, P. (2015). Becoming a professional life coach: Lessons from the Institute of Life Coach Training. New York, NY: WW Norton & Company.