Have you ever worked in retail? If you have, you can certainly empathize with the interior politics of almost any organization. Feelings can be hurt on a whim with as much as a misunderstood glance or the inflection of your voice. Think of something more fragile than eggshells (babies?), and imagine trying not to step on a floor covered with them—and STILL do your job with the professionalism required. Here are five ways I’ve learned (the hard way) how to be less offended by life and other people.
Realize what you control.
Here’s a hint: You control less than you think. One of the hardest lessons I had to learn in life was about control. Being a control freak has ended romantic relationships, jobs and friendships throughout my life. My need to control a situation and the people around me stemmed from a childhood environment that was out of control. It was chaotic (constantly moving, various stepfathers, etc.) and lacked the stability to allow me to focus on anything but the situation. It wasn’t until later in life that somebody told me it was OK to not control every facet of my life. A need to micromanage everything caused me a lot of unnecessary stress throughout college. Finally, I learned that so much more is out of my control than I realized. Once I let that go, I was able to focus on things I could control: my mood, my goals and my own happiness. There’s no need to control everything, and it’s a beautiful day to realize that you’re only responsible for what you own.
Examine your positions and beliefs.
The difference between a legitimate personal injustice and losing your mind over a minor inconvenience is lost on some. It’s my opinion that the more stringent you are with your belief system the more easy it is to rattle your cage about said beliefs. Take Miley Cyrus, for example. Why did her twerking upset you? No, really, deep down ... why? Is it because you found her behavior personally offensive? Is it because she’s not Hannah Montana anymore? Or maybe you secretly wish she’d twerk all over you, and now you’re projecting your insecurities something fierce? My opinion is that I have no opinion. Her behavior was not offensive, nor was it worthy of my attention. We are all entitled to our own belief systems, of course. But sometimes it’s important to examine the WHY behind those beliefs. Why am I upset? Furthermore, what beliefs do I hold that cause me to feel upset? A lot of the belief systems we hold are simply passed down from generation to generation. It’s just too easy to accept a nicely wrapped belief package without examination. I encourage you to seek your own.
Worry ‘bout yourself!
This little girl in the backseat of a car who tells her father to "worry ‘bout yourself" could teach us all a lesson about our need to meddle in other people’s lives. There are obligations—children, pets, loved ones—that require of us a significant amount of worrying. However, a short pause whenever we become offended by something could remedy a lot of the kneejerk reactions that get us in trouble. That great Socratic quote bears repeating: "Strong minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, weak minds discuss people." I love that quote. It helps me to realize the importance of every discussion I have and encourages me to have a "strong mind." Of course, it isn’t 450 B.C., either. Socrates most likely had no concept of twerking, but he did have humanity figured out. Be strong-minded and worry about yourself.
Life isn’t perfect. Accept it.
The snarly imperfections of life keep things interesting. Striving for perfection is, on paper, a noble goal for your life. However, you and I both know that it’s also hard to appreciate the beauty of life when everyone around you is pissing you off. The key is to learn to accept every fault in others as a beautiful imperfection that makes us each unique. Let’s take my ex-girlfriend as an example. Basically, we broke up over my inability to wash dishes to her strict standards. I’ve always been terrible at doing the dishes but not damnably terrible. I scrubbed and rinsed my little heart out, but it never failed that a spot would be found. She would scream and yell about the dishes like a crazy person. We had to go our separate ways because she was unable to accept my not being perfect. I hope she’s well and that her fiancé can wash a mean dish.
What’s your default?
Think about it. What is your routine underlying attitude toward life? Do you walk around with a smile on your face, or is your go-to mood more surly? Are you on high alert, or do you just shrug through life? Think about your closest relationship and the way you exist around that person. Most likely, that’s your default. The cast of "Winnie the Pooh" is symbolic of different default positions in life. Eeyore is clinically depressed, while Tigger has the confidence of a frat boy during his junior year at a freshman mixer. Many people are Poohs: naive, dim-witted, but genuine and sweet. They just always get in trouble searching for honey. Owl is a narcissist; Piglet is anxious. Rabbit is, of course, your obsessive-compulsive. The ideal position would be to float like a feather through life, always in awe of everything around and, like a dog, not worrying about the past or future but about what adventure is right in front of you. Try to offend a dog. See how far that gets you.
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