Life’s Little Annoyances

Note: This post is part of my yearlong commitment to share how the books I read impact my perspective.

For me, it’s the dog owner who neglects to pick up his pooch’s business. I also admit to suffering minor road rage at tailgaters and people who can’t drive the speed limit. Despite our preoccupation with the big things life throws our way, the little things can still drive us to distraction.

With pleasure, I finished reading Ian Urbina’s Life’s Little Annoyances and learned firsthand how some individuals have chosen to fight back against the small, daily things that drive us crazy. While I enjoyed the examples of combating everyday nonsense, I was surprised to learn what can come out of pushing back against the craziness.

  • A remote to turn off multiple TV types (i.e. turning off the obnoxiously loud TV in the restaurant)
  • A tool that slices open CD packaging safely
  • A rejection hotline number and email address for people when they want to avoid giving their info
  • A set of plastic wedges that keeps the airline seat in front of you from reclining all the way
  • A website that tells you the nearest location of a coffee shop that’s NOT Starbucks

These examples are within the first 50 pages of Urbina’s book. He highlights several others throughout. I suspect that there are many other inspired inventions that all started out as a way to vent one’s frustration with the status quo.

I think when we hit a wall or the status quo interferes with our objectives, our first inclination is to be frustrated, angry, irritated, etc. What if we looked at these little annoyances, or big ones for that matter, as opportunities to change the status quo, to end up better off than we were before?

What Are Our Options?

For instance, consider our current economic mess. People have lost jobs, their homes, and their retirement. Do we really want to wait until Congress decides how to stimulate the economy before we make a move? Here are some things to consider:

  • If you’ve lost a job, is it possible that you could start your own business?
  • If you’ve lost your home, is there an opportunity to move in with elderly relatives who could benefit from your care and attention?
  • If you watched your retirement go down the drain, do you have other opportunities that you didn’t consider before because of your retirement plans?

One of the most frustrating aspects of an economic crisis is the absolute focus on the bad. Yes, times are tough, but why aren’t we hearing more conversations about how we can make things better?

Why aren’t we talking about how buying locally can support businesses in our community? Why aren’t we talking about banking with institutions who were wise to avoid the sub-prime mess and have healthy cash reserves? Why aren’t we talking about whether it’s really for the best if our economy returns to “normal?” (Carl @BehaviorGap.com discusses the possibility that instead of a recession, the economy is resetting itself.)

We need to ask ourselves what we really want our world to look like and what we’re willing to do to help make it happen. Stepping over the mess and cursing the people around us accomplishes little.  How are chosing to deal with life’s (little/big) annoyances?


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February 2009
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