I had a phone conversation last week with a friend in Virginia. I was particularly irritated by some delays in getting the new book published. After grumbling and growling for a few minutes, I apologized and steered things back to happier topics.
Toward the end of the call, my friend ventured a toe into the Unsolicited Advice Waters. These are tricky currents for even the most enduring relationships, so diplomacy was at an all time high.
Me being The Blunt One, I encouraged him to just spit it out and say what was on his mind. My feelings can get hurt, but if I learn something that can be beneficial, I’m usually willing to hear bad news or less than pleasant suggestions.
‘You might want to be more selective about pisses you off,’ my friend stated plainly. ‘You can get upset about anything. And everybody gets upset about something. It’s just a question how high you want to set your irritation threshold. The bigger people in the world don’t allow themselves to get upset by the smaller things in the world. The size of the person is often the size of what upsets them.’
I thought about that, when he said it, and afterwards. My friend, irritatingly enough, was a fine example of this: he rarely lost his cool, and only over important things, and for a very short period of time. Then he seems to recalibrate back to ‘tranquil’ mode. And this guy is not a clerk at the local grocery store. He has some big calls to make in this job. The source is as solid as the advice.
So one of my new year’s resolutions is to elevate my irritation threshold. To tweak my formula for calm. Not sweat the small stuff. Save my energy for the big issues.
Right now, I’m looking at this ink stain that’s inexplicably appeared on my shirt cuff. And my lip is curling into a snarl.
I’ll let you know how it goes.