Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Caring and annoyance

There are days when I have to try hard to care about the things on my to-do list. At the same time, I sometimes have to try hard NOT to care about things that aren't really that important. I'm sure most human beings go through the same thing at some point in their existence. Caring is a part of living a well balanced life. We just have to decide what is worth caring about.

Tonight at work I noticed that I was getting annoyed, even angry, about little things that really don't matter much at all when I think about it. That's the key, thinking about it. When I get annoyed, my brain isn't really engaged and I'm reacting without thinking. And since I don't enjoy being angry about stupid things, I've decided to define the things that really do matter to me.

Things worth caring about:

  • My relationship with God, family, and friends.
  • My goals, hopes and dreams: the things I hope to accomplish with my life. 
  • Basically, caring about things under my control is worthwhile. Everything that's important to me pretty much fits these categories. And if it doesn't, it's probably not productive for me to spend time worrying about it. 

Things not worth caring about:

  • The uncertain future (not under my control. Notice I still think I should care about goals and dreams, but that I don't want to base my happiness on whether life turns out the way I want it to right at this moment)
  • What I think other people might think about me (that's all guesswork, and usually inaccurate. So it's not a reliable thing to base happiness on. Definitely not worth the time I could spend caring about it)
  • The small stuff. You know the saying "Don't sweat the small stuff." Well, the small stuff includes the toilet paper being on the right direction, whether our coworkers do a task the same way we would, the leaky drinking fountain that ruins the nice polish we just gave it, the paper left on the floor, and many other "pet peeves". They're all things I spend time caring about when it probably isn't worth it. These little things that bug me now won't matter in five years and definitely not in eternity. So why spend time caring about them now? I might as well smile, shrug, take a deep breath when necessary, and move on. Life goes on. That's a great phrase for me to remember when I'm confronted by what should be only a small annoyance.

However, annoyance is a habit. A habit needs to be broken to change. So I need to NOTICE when I get annoyed and make a conscious decision to just let it be. Every time I try to be more patient (yes, this whole thing is an exercise in patience) I almost immediately find more things to be annoyed at. Like clockwork. Mom tells me it builds character. I think she's right. That doesn't make it any easier, though! I know the difference between caring about important things and being annoyed by unimportant things. Now here goes another attempt to put my knowledge into practice.