Natural Life Sweeteners: Tolerance, Momentum, and Clearheadedness

It’s so easy to lose sight of what makes life sweet. It’s so easy to latch onto what’s not going right. It’s not always easy to see through the fog, but there are simple ingredients, like tolerance, momentum, and clearheadedness, that can bring us back, bring us back to a sweeter life.

In The Chocolate Cake Sutra (HarperOne, 2008), Geri Larkin looks at eight ingredients that add sweetness to life –  joy, extreme ethics, tolerance, a capacity to keep going, clearheadedness, a penchant for surprise, adventuring, and Yoda’s wisdom. In my last post, I shared how joy and extreme ethics are sweetening my life. Here I’ll look at the role of tolerance, momentum (a capacity to keep going), and clearheadedness.

Tolerance.  Tolerance is an ongoing practice. On a daily basis, I am put to the test — we all are. Everyday we interact with people who don’t see things the way we do. Tolerance is putting yourself in someone else’s shoes, giving someone the benefit of the doubt, having patience with others and yourself, and being open to others’ opinions. With tolerance, sometimes, unlikely friendships bloom. I realize that I am lucky –I have had opportunities to develop tolerance and patience.  I’ve lived in three different countries, worked with people from diverse backgrounds, befriended my opposites, and  hugged those that have let me down. It’s not easy or simple, it can be challenging, but eventually we see that it is those cracks, and our letting go, that lets the light in.

Tolerance and patience are lightening my load,  softening my edges, and making my world more livable.

Momentum (a capacity to keep going). This is simply essential for life, sweet or not. When I moved back to the west, I felt like I was going backwards in my life. Thailand had the best of my twenties, and Canada would be my uncertain thirties. Although I had lost my alien status when I left Bangkok, it found me as soon as I landed in my hometown. No job, no place to call my own, unfamiliar friends, and familiar family, were just the beginning of my culture shock. My momentum was that of a snail. Four years later, I have a job, a place to call my own, new friends, and a smaller family. My momentum is not that of a rabbit, but a cautious cat, one that has been deceived a few times, but is still moving towards her goals.

Instead of moving backwards, I’m moving forward with deeper connections, creative ambitions, and more perseverance. When my momentum is waning and I question my capacity to keep going, I remind myself that nothing is permanent, and that I am blessed with a new beginning……even if I didn’t ask for it!

Clearheadedness. This comes with the clearing of the fog. This comes when we start seeing what is right in front of us, what is working ….and maybe what isn’t working. Larkin describes it as “the lifting of a headache that we didn’t even know we had.” Clearheadedness is like the clarity that we get from practicing tolerance and extreme ethics. Sometimes it sneaks up on us when we least expect it. As I was walking home today, admiring the ducks and turtles sunbathing in Autumn, it struck me that I can live out the best of my thirties in the place where I was born. I realized that I do have supportive friends and family here, and that I am moving forward, even if sometimes it’s at a snail’s pace. Everything is okay.

Wouldn’t it be great to always be clearheaded, and to remember that joy is in the present moment, and that tolerance is lighter than judgement?


Slowly but surely, my life is becoming sweeter. Just tonight I was surprised with a beautiful bouquet from my special someone. If that’s not sweet, I don’t know what is.



2 thoughts on “Natural Life Sweeteners: Tolerance, Momentum, and Clearheadedness

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