Gunk of Low-Energy Living: tolerations

It’s a great big beautiful world out there. Full of amazing wonder. And we’re living in an incredible age. Full of possibility.

And, of course, we’re also living in a world filled with things that vex us. That are not the way we want them to be. Or think they should be.

World tolerations

There are 8 types of tolerations. This type—World—is all about external facts, factors and forces. In other words, the world at large, which you don’t control.

  • You’re stuck in the rush hour traffic and feel the friction. There shouldn’t be so many cars on the road.
  • You wait on hold with the cable company and feel your frustration growing. I shouldn’t have to put up with this terrible Customer Service.
  • You receive hundreds of emails a day. Opening your inbox, you feel the energy drain. Life was simpler before email.

Arguing with reality

When you find yourself arguing with what is, you are at the beginning stages of a World toleration.

Let’s say you make a reservation for dinner and still end up waiting to be seated. You find this experience frustrating.

What’s the point of making a reservation if I still have to wait 20 minutes?

While you may have a perfectly valid complaint, you are also arguing with reality. The fact is: You had a reservation and waited 20 minutes to be seated. That’s reality.

When you find yourself arguing with the reality of what is, the usual result is a loss of your energy.

I can’t believe they said no

Let’s look at another example where arguing with reality signals a World toleration.

Employees at your company have requested to work from home in the past and management has made a decision: No working from home.

However, you have a compelling case for why you should be allowed to work from home. You’ve put a lot of thought into it, organized your reasons, and formulated a persuasive case.

But your request is denied: Company policy is no working from home.

You feel tremendous friction about this situation. I can’t believe they said no. It makes so much more sense for me to work from home—for me and for the company.

The fact is: Company policy is no working from home. Arguing with the reality of what is, you feel bitter and resentful.

Can you see how arguing with reality is a fast track to friction and frustration? To energy drain and a less-than-peaceful mind?

Complain versus champion

Now, here’s where all this can get a little less clear, even confusing: If you come across a situation in the world you think should be different, shouldn’t you try to change it?

Isn’t that, in fact, how change happens? How policies are improved. How movements start. How the world becomes a better place.


Use your agency! Advocate for what you believe in. Champion causes. Take a stand. Speak up for what you want.

But don’t leak your energy and sacrifice your peace of mind in the process. Refuse to live your life in friction by arguing all the time with reality.

And the fact is, most times we’re not advocating, not championing anything. We’re not even really speaking up.

We’re just complaining. We’re just grumbling and grousing about situations in the world over which we don’t have control.

There’s a big difference between whining and griping about the reality of what is (can you say toleration?) versus actively and energetically trying to change a situation.

Energy giving versus energy draining

You feel frustrated the cost of tickets for sporting events is astronomical, but are you doing anything to actually change it? Or are you just complaining to anyone who will listen how expensive it is to take your family to the ballpark?

If you’ve made it your mission to make sporting events affordable for families, you probably feel energized around that aim. You’re motivated and passionate. You feel expectant about effecting change, which is energy giving not energy draining.

But if you’re just complaining about the high cost of admission—just reluctantly putting up with, just tolerating, then you’re unnecessarily leaking energy and living in friction.

Contrast is clarifying

The world is big. Your life experience is expansive. There will always be contrast between the way things are and the way you want them to be.

That’s OK.

Contrast is clarifying. It points to: I like this, not that. I want this, not that.

But often when we don’t like something, we complain—with no plans to try to change it.

Other examples of World tolerations might include:

  • Unreliable public transportation
  • Corporate red tape
  • Rabbits eat your newly planted flowers
  • Your new job has less vacation time than your old one
  • High cost of childcare
  • Difficult to find a parking spot in your neighborhood
  • Merchandise you just bought goes on sale
  • Snowy winters
  • Your Homeowners Association is very restrictive
  • Credit card company raised your APR
  • Car repair shop is closed on Saturdays
  • Your favorite takeout place went out of business
  • Being required to travel frequently for work
  • State of political discourse
  • Airlines charging for checked baggage
  • High property taxes

Are any of those situations ones you’ve been leaking energy around?

While you certainly can effect change, you do not control the external world.

Take a look around your life—your world—right now.

  • Where are you leaking energy because you’re arguing with the what is of reality?
  • Where are you experiencing friction because you’re trying to control the world?

What do you need to stop trying to control?