You wake up in the morning, stretch, roll or rush out of bed. You grab your favorite slices of bread, pop them into the toaster and start prepping your coffee or tea. It’s one of those days where just creamer won’t do. You rummage through the cupboard in search of cinnamon when a wafty whiff of burnt toast hits your nostrils. Instant dread. You’ve burnt your toast and the timing of your day doesn’t allow for it.

Annoyance ensues: through your shower, into your car and/or train ride. On your route, you see heavy traffic clearing, a car accident, or that close-talker associate walking down the street. You’re reminded that timing is everything and that burnt toast isn’t that bad after all. That is the burnt toast theory: that “the inconvenient” is saving us, one frazzled, meant-to-be moment at a time. TikTok’s latest viral theory has deeper spiritual roots than you may realize, so here’s a breakdown of what it all means.

Where the Burnt Toast Theory Came From

The burnt toast theory recently resurfaced via TikToker Faye (@offthe_grid), who reminds us that embracing the redirection of inconvenience has the ability to ground us in the moment. It’s releasing the sense of entitlement to control and trusting that divine orchestration will free, protect and often save us. This was certainly proven during the recent Alaska Airlines controversy, in which the plane lost its door mid-flight and was forced to make an emergency landing. The serendipity? The two passengers booked for those very same seats just so happened to miss their flight that day.

While sometimes we’ll get to see that we’re being saved from (that traffic jam, collision or underwhelming associate), other times we won’t. and that’s okay too. Inconvenience gives us the opportunity to slow down and be present, which the ancient philosopher Lao Tzu said is the only way to be at peace. 

The Burnt Toast Theory Is a Reminder To Choose Peace

As a generation easily triggered by imperfection or tardiness, anxiety can often feel like it’s always around the corner. There are days when burnt toast could send one into a spiral if not intentionally reframed, but trust and gratitude are a muscle to continue strengthening. Author and writer, Thobani Ndlovu said that the resurfacing of the burnt toast theory inspired some takeaways, two of which are the following: timing is everything and seeing the glass as being half-full. For timing, he presents the idea of having burnt toast because you “double toast” to achieve a toastier slice.

This new perspective of the theory invites us to consider that we wanted more when what we had was enough, and that if we hadn’t made another attempt at achieving something closer to “perfection,” we would be happier or more satisfied. That pursuit of perfection is what also leads us to perceive a half-full glass as half-empty. In those moments, we can choose gratitude for what we have instead of dread for what we lack.

The Burnt Toast Theory Says Timing Is Everything

So, the next time that you have a burnt toast moment, whether it’s actually the toast that you’ve burned or another minor inconvenience, see it as a setup instead of a setback: for you to choose presence and gratefulness. That’s what aligns us with peace and peace is the overarching goal. Remember, “the ‘inconvenient’ is saving us.”