The person who cuts you off in their car, idiot. The person who walks too slowly in front of you, idiot. The person talking too loudly on their phone, idiot. People who don’t pick up after their dogs, idiots. The person taking too long to pay in front of you at the store, idiot. And on and on and on.
These are the little irritants in everyday life that can cause us to react in anger. The selfish or thoughtless behavior of other people has us thinking “why are they so rude, these people are idiots, how dare they!” Your blood pressure is rising while they remain unaware or worse, you yell at them to point out how rude they are.
We judge everyone way too quickly and we get angry way too quickly. But the truth is, it’s not about you – they are not personally trying to piss you off. Honestly, they don’t even notice you.
“Our default setting is that we are the center of the universe. There is no experience you have had that you were not at the center of.
If you don’t make a conscious decision on what to think and what to pay attention to you’re going to be pissed and miserable, because your natural default setting is the certainty that these situations are all about you. Your hunger, your need to get home, your need for rest, and everybody else is just in your way, preventing you from getting what you want. And look at them, everybody else is just an idiot.” – David Foster Wallace.
The key here is to change our perspective. Doing that will naturally change our thoughts, feelings, and actions, allowing us to feel more compassion, gratitude, generosity, and joy. Being angry and irritated with people you are judging creates negativity that just sits in you.
The good news is that “while changing our emotions is quite hard, changing our perspective is actually relatively easy. It is a part of our mind, over which we have influence. The way you see the world, the meaning you give to what you witness, changes the way you feel.
A healthy perspective really is the foundation of joy and happiness, because the way we see the world is the way we experience the world. Changing the way we see the world, in turn, changes the way we feel and the way we act, which changes the world itself.” – the Dalai Lama.
Here are some examples of ways to change your thinking. The point is you don’t know anything about the people you’re angry at. So you have a choice, you can assume their actions are intentionally rude or you can give them the benefit of the doubt and offer up a positive explanation for their behavior. This allows you to feel compassion and gratitude instead of anger.
People who walk too slowly in front of you. Maybe they have a spinal injury that prevents them from walking faster. Could make you think, how lucky you are to be healthy.
People who are talking too loudly on their phone. Maybe they just found out they lost their job. How lucky are you to have a job.
People who stop and block a walkway. Maybe they have a lung issue and need to catch their breath. Feeling gratitude you have your health.
People who don’t pick up after their dog. There’s no excuse for that, idiots! Just kidding! Maybe they are visiting from another country and didn’t know the rule. Major gratitude that most people do pick up after their dogs. I remember as a kid stepping in dog poop all the time, that rarely happens anymore.
People who drive slow in the left lane. Maybe they had a horrible accident involving a car merging in from the on-ramp and now suffer great anxiety and try to stay out of the right lane. Feeling gratitude you haven’t had a horrible accident.
People who borrow things and don’t return them. Maybe they have memory issues. Gratitude that your memory is good, (ahem, or maybe just not as bad).
People who cut in front of you in their car. Maybe they are on the way to the emergency room with a sick child. Feeling so very grateful that your children are healthy.
The point is you don’t know. Maybe the above isn’t likely, but you don’t know what their story is. So change your perspective, give them the benefit of the doubt and change your irritating day into one of compassionate understanding and gratitude.
Most people are doing the best they can, just like you are. Right now, idiot is our default mode and with it comes bad feelings. Let’s make a conscious decision to stop reacting without thinking. Take a minute, and instead of thinking idiot, think, maybe they are doing the best they can.
Remember, “when you can’t control what’s happening, challenge yourself to control how you respond to what’s happening. That’s where your power is.” – unknown
As always, I’d appreciate it if you would help me get the word out about the Matt Kurtz Kindness Award of $250 (nominate someone who inspires you) and the Matt Kurtz Kindness Grant of $250 (submit an act of kindness you would do with $250).