It’s so amusing to me how the littlest thing, as well as the big ones, can get to us in ways that nothing else can.
An email that had an unfriendly tone; someone who cut you off on the freeway; a co-worker who walked past you and didn’t say hello; burnt toast.
Any of these things can throw off your day in unimaginable ways, and somehow, it’s our job to make sure that they don’t. But how is that even possible?!
Here’s this email, sitting in my inbox, waiting to be answered, and I’m SO annoyed! Or saying to myself, “When I see that co-worker at lunch, I’m not even going to say anything to him!” Then, you sit, stewing over the email and the rude coworker, which is only being made worse by the fact that you can still taste the burnt toast in your mouth and that you were five minutes late for work because of that asshole driver that cut you off.
Ever experienced any of these?
Again, I’m not a psychologist, but I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking, and I’ve realized something… I just don’t care anymore and I’m happier for it.
That annoyed email: How do I know something traumatic isn’t happening in the writer’s life? I don’t. But even if the writer’s life is peachy keen, I still shouldn’t let the tone affect me. It’s about what to bring to the office potluck for crying out loud, not insulting the way I make potato salad.
The bad driver: For all I know, the driver had a loved one in the hospital, or was going to get fired if he was late one more time. I can’t let someone else’s actions affect my reactions because it doesn’t actually matter to me.
The rude coworker: Hey, that person has to live with himself every day, and it takes a special kind of person to not say “Hello” back to someone who addressed them. Special in a not so positive way. But again, why does it matter to me? I felt like saying “Hello.” I shouldn’t expect anything back, because courtesy is just that. And if I’m not shown courtesy, it’s time to move along.
Here’s a real life example: I was walking through the McDonald’s parking lot one day, when two men passed me. One yelled, “Someone looks nice today.” I was in a hurry, and barely even registered that he was talking to me, and kept walking. So, he yells back much louder, “Hey bitch, when someone says something, you can at least say thanks.”
While that wasn’t very polite of me, it was also an unwanted advance, and he shouldn’t have been offended at my lack of response. It was my response that was going to dictate the level of happiness he got out of saying that. It had NOTHING to do with how good the comment would make me feel.
So, why are you saying ‘hello’ to your coworker? Are you doing it because you want someone to say ‘hello’ to you, or because you genuinely wanted to greet the person, regardless of his reaction?
The burnt toast: Well, there’s not much to be said there. Burnt toast is just this side of burnt popcorn on both the tolerable and the smelly scale. But to put it into perspective, a child somewhere is eating actual trash to survive, and another is eating nothing at all. Burnt toast will do just fine.
So, why do we care when things aren’t the way we hope they are, and why do we let it get to us?
The truth is, the answer doesn’t matter. Sure, we can get into a whole philosophical thing, but at the core, it doesn’t matter why things happen. All that matters, and all that we can control is how we react to situations.
With this in mind, I challenge you to be mindful about every reaction you have to things today. Good or bad. Just ask yourself why you feel some type of way when your favorite soda is sold out in the vending machine, or when your commute takes longer than usual. Does it really matter in the grand scheme of things? And why are you feeling this emotion?
You’ll learn a lot about yourself in a short time.