The Art of Tolerance

photo by Anthony Posey 

Shann talks about how we choose to respond when we feel our personal space has been invaded.



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While relaxing on the shores of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore to write this podcast, I became acutely aware of my environment and not in the way you might think. I wasn’t focused on the sound of the waves crashing on the shoreline, or the warming sun on my body. I wasn’t basking in the pleasure of writing at the beach.

I chose to be irritated with the chatty couple who decided to plunk down ten feet away from me, with miles of available shoreline. I became overstimulated by a barking dog in the distance. Fido was having the time of his life playing fetch (while barking his head-off) and hoping for one more swim to retrieve the tennis ball. My personal space was invaded. I judged the couple. Judged the barking dog and his master. I found myself wondering, why me?  Why I couldn’t I simply go to the beach and be left to write in peace? I was triggered.

The cosmic joke of this experience is that no matter how much I love my personal space and privacy, I am not alone on this planet. The roads will always have traffic. Dogs bark. People do, what people do. Yet I often expect others to honor my personal space, be mindful of  their actions and shut the hell up already. HA HA HA! The art of tolerance is a curriculum calling for my attention.  I still have much to learn about cultivating patience. You?

In hindsight I see that I had several options that day. I could have picked up my things and moved away from the couple and the dog. I could have noticed the distractions and let them go. I could have put my ear buds in and listened to a new favorite album by Alex Clare or a relaxing guided meditation.  How much space do I really need? What might happen if I re-framed the trigger of a barking dog to something that emotes fun and playfulness vs. annoying repetitive noise?  Geesh!

I choose to become less reactive and will get better at letting things slide. One thing is certain, walking on the path of patience and learning the art of tolerance will take a lot of practice. Thankfully I have the tools I need to exhale, learn from experience, and move forward with loving kindness.

I will always prefer silence and natural sound.  The crashing waves lull me to relax on the beach. The chatty couple and barking dog, not so much. No matter what kind of environment I prefer, the lifestyle I choose is one with community. Communities are not always quiet and relaxing. The real world is full of people, barking dogs, and blowing horns. Being alive is noisy.   


  • How do you care for yourself when you are over-stimulated?
  • Do you guard your personal space with a vengeance?
  • What do you do when you observe yourself judging others?





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