You are here:

Buddhists/Mindfulness of Others


Through practice over the years, I have cultivated a certain mindfulness
Of my actions and surroundings. I have recently grown a frustration to others inability
To be mindful of what they are doing or how their actions effect others.  Is there anything to be done
About this frustration ?

Hello Eddie,

Sorry it took so long to get back to you.

Thank you so much for letting me answer your question.

Your question is a good one.  And I am know you are not alone in having this dilemma.

It appears to me like what is troubling you is that you are working hard on your own practice but you are getting frustrated at others actions.

You ask if there is anything that can be done. Well, I have some good news and some bad news.

The good news is yes, there is something that can be done.  The bad news (which you probably already know) is that we are the ones that have to do it. From what I have studied, there is nothing in the Buddha's teachings that we can do to make others into better, more responsible and less frustrating people because if it were possible for another person to change someone the Buddhas would have already made us all enlightened.

So since I cannot change someone's actions, I am the one who has to change.  And so when I have been in situations like you are talking about I find I can work on a few things.

The first one I always think about is what His Holiness the Dalai Lama always says: Everyone wants to be happy. No one wants to suffer. So when I meet a person who is not mindful, I work on realizing that what appears to me like a lack of mindfulness is them just trying to be happy - and in that way, they are no different than I am.  So, I think about equanimity - they, just like me want to be happy and don't want to suffer. I work on seeing us as equals as I am certain there are things that I do just trying to be happy where I must appear unmindful and frustrating to others.

And often that one leads me to thinking about loving kindness towards them.  Just saying over and over again in my mind - "may they be happy.  Many they be happy".  I find if I do that, I am able to reduce my negative thoughts and replace them with positive thoughts. I find I begin to think more kindly towards them.

I used to have quite a temper but I don't get angry much any more (thanks to the dharma). But I still do get frustrated sometimes. But I believe frustration is a mild form of anger.  And what I have learned is that the antidote to anger (frustration) is patience. When frustration arises in my mind, toward someone  or something someone does, when I catch it, I work on letting it go and embracing patience.

The great Indian Master Shantideva is one of my inspirations and this is what he has to say in Chapter 5 of his discourse (Guide to the Bodhisattva's Way of Life):
When (I notice that) my mind would (compromise)   with attachment,
Or would (oppose this) with anger,
I shall not make a move; I shall not speak (a word).
I shall remain like a block of wood.
When it (my mind) is inclined to boast, or when it is contemptuous of others,
abusive, and irritable, then I should remain still like a piece of wood.

Thinking in this way, helps me with developing and using patience during times when I get frustrated at someone's lack of mindfulness. I find lots of different times out in the world where I turn my frustration to patience and my mind becomes calmer.

And of course there is my favorite practice when something like this happens in my life; well, it is two practices.  The first one is to remember dependent arising, That nothing is permanent - as Buddha said  all compounded phenomena are impermanent - so their actions and my own reaction to them are impermanent - they will not last so there is no reason for me to grasp at their actions as if they were permanent or my reaction to them as permanent.  In fact, I can use my own mindfulness to recognize when the negative thought about their actions arises in my mind and simply let it go - My practice allows my me to have control over my thoughts - so when my frustrations arises, I can simply name it, bless it and return my mind to peace.

The second part is remembering that I am annoyed in the first place because I think there is a real me.  I have forgotten the teaching Lord Buddha taught that I am not inherent. And the person that is annoying me is not inherent. And their actions are not inherent - It is simply that I label them such and I label me as real that is causing my mind to become upset.  There is no frustration and no I to be frustrated other than the one I choose to create.

And finally I cannot overlook karma.  This is happening to me because I caused frustration to someone else by my own actions and my inability to be mindful.  I am just getting a little of my own back.  And so I can simply rejoice that I am purifying the negative karma that I myself have created and I can mentally thank the annoying person for helping to purify my past negative actions. That karmic seed is now gone - never to arise again.  And knowing karma is definite, I try to remember that even thoughts produce karma and so the sooner I can turn my mind to positive thoughts of loving kindness, compassion, equanimity toward the frustrating person, the sooner I am planting future positive karmic seeds in my own mindstream.

And I have noticed that when I able to work with my mind and because of using the tools above, I act kindly, compassionately and gently toward the person who is frustrating me, often if not at first, eventually, they begin to change and become less and less the object of my annoyance and there is a peace that arises between us.

Again, sorry this is so late

I hope though this in some way gives you some suggestions.

If you have any questions about what I have written, I would be happy to answer them.

In the mean time, I hope you find your way to a peaceful mind


All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Laurie McLaughlin


I can answer questions about basic Tibetan Mahayana Buddhism and meditation especially how the Buddha's teachings can help us in day to day living.


I have been studying Mahayana Buddhism and meditation since 2001. I have lead meditation classes and retreats for over 5 years. I have lived at a Buddhist retreat center for over 4 years and am currently ordained as a novice Buddhist nun. My nun name is Gyalten Yanghchen.

I hold a BA degree in technical theatre from the University of South Florida.

©2016 All rights reserved.