don’t get mad

i’m looking after my neighbour’s dog for the next four days and was given instructions on how to look after the dog yesterday. a cup of dog food in the morning, a cup at night. let him roam during the day and put him in the house at night if he wants in, or leave him outside if he prefers. pretty straightforward.

but today, another neighbour came over to ask if i was looking after the first neighbour’s dog. i said yup. this second neighbour said he could feed the dog tonight because it always gets fed at 5:30 pm. i thought, that’s weird. the dog’s owner didn’t mention a specific time. then this neighbour asked if i was going to lock the dog on the deck at night. i said i had been told to put him in at night if he wants, or leave him out. the non-owner said it was important to lock the dog on the deck so he didn’t wander at night. again, i thought, this is really odd. why is another neighbour, who does not own this dog, telling me how to look after it, and why is he telling me something different from what the owner said? then he told me that he would basically keep the dog with him at his place during the day.

i rolled with it though since he seemed eager — anxious, even — to look after the dog, and i was in a rush to leave for work. but almost as soon as he left, i began dwelling on the interaction. i didn’t like it at all. the dog’s owner asked me to look after the dog, not the nosy second neighbour, and i spent 15 minutes with him yesterday so he could show me how to do the job. why should i now do something differently because of a weird busy body?

on the drive to work, i felt myself getting really hot under the collar. i have this second neighbour’s phone number and thought i should call him as soon as i get to work and tell him to butt out. i started getting butterflies in my stomach, i was so pissed and looking forward to letting him have it.

and i thought, why does it feel so good to let yourself get angry?

to which i replied, it doesn’t feel good to let yourself get angry. it actually feels lousy. it’s just that it’s much easier than calming yourself and dealing with the stressor in a smarter, more productive way. the ease of letting yourself blow up is very seductive but i learned a long time ago that i feel better when i take some deep breaths, put the problem out of my mind for a bit, calm down, and come back to it later with a better attitude.

i will still probably have a conversation with this jackass neighbour and say basically the same things, but i will say them in a calmer, more controlled manner which will allow me to retain control of both myself and the overall interaction. that’s definitely not as seductive as letting myself fly off the handle and stick my finger in this guy’s chest while i tell him what’s what, but it will make me happier in the long run. and i feel good about striving to be a better person…

2a65fd6d67c8c65e7664c8a0c87a686c-yoga-man-yoga-for-men

…but i LOVE achieving the upper hand in social situations through careful self-awareness and self-control. that is the goal that seduces me.

images.duckduckgo.com

 

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“choose happiness,” said the miserable sod

my grandmother divorced from her husband when she was in her 50’s. she once told me that for years after the divorce, she harbored great bitterness and resentment towards him, that she often imagined what she would say to him if she bumped into him around town, or how she would have handled various events in their marriage if she could only go back in time. she said that eventually, though, she realized that all the negative feelings she kept revisiting never had any impact on him, but they did have a huge impact on her. she realized that she was making herself miserable by continuing to dwell on negative things that she couldn’t change or didn’t intend to follow through with.

once she had this epiphany, she simply stopped giving it any thought. after that, she felt much better.

similarly, a long time ago, my wife jenn said to me, “choose happiness.” i was super annoyed when she first said it because it sounds like something a yoga hipster woman would say, but the more i thought about it, the more i liked it. what “choose happiness” means is, when you are driving home at a respectable 10 km/h over the speed limit and you come up behind some son of a bitch who is putting along just under the speed limit, you have a choice. you can choose to fume and gripe out loud, maybe swerve slightly into the oncoming lane as if to pass the slow driver, perhaps lay on the horn, and get right worked up about this minor inconvenience — or you can realize that you actually aren’t in a big rush for any justifiable reason so you may as well take a deep breath, slow down, and relax.

for whatever reason, we give ourselves a lot of leeway when it comes to embracing anger and frustration. we allow ourselves to stew over tiny, insignificant things and make ourselves miserable. i see people do it all the time. i do it all the time myself (except i usually like to do it). but we have the ability to become more self aware, notice when we repeat negative patterns, and work to break those patterns. i actually frequently think “choose happiness” to myself now as a mantra when i want to snap myself out of yet another loop of rage. i even say it to jenn occasionally, which she absolutely fucking hates.

violent-women

“don’t you EVER use my own pretentious, mystical advice on me!”

i’m writing about this now because i was bothered by something else when i got stuck behind an insanely slow driver. i had to remind myself that the slow driver wasn’t what was actually bothering me, and letting myself get worked up about them would only make me even more unhappy. so i relaxed and slowed down and felt better for it.

it’s nice when this kind of stuff actually works. which is only maybe 50% of the time, but that’s still way better than nothing. i welcome any mitigation of my misery with open arms.

road rage is bullshit

i was just reading about a woman in edmonton who honked at a car stopped in the middle of the road and drove around it, only to have that car follow her home. there, the driver got out and attacked the woman with a crowbar. both her arms were broken so police imagine the attacker was swinging for her head, and she had her arms up to defend herself.

he was trying to kill her for honking her horn.

giphy

i’m on a gif kick. and a lifelong tom cruise kick.

this sort of thing doesn’t happen at the grocery store when someone gets in your way with their shopping cart, and i think we need to ask what the difference is.

i think the biggest reason people are more prone to violence while driving is that being in a vehicle gives people a sense of disconnection from what they see on the other side of the glass: the vehicle is a barrier between a person and the world around them. put other people in other cars, and that’s another barrier between two people. i think this allows people to feel quite removed from the reality of a situation — it’s like people being rude bastards on internet forums and comments sections when they’re actually normal, decent people in real life. when we’re not face to face with other people, we can be real pricks.

that lack of connection with reality shouldn’t happen in the first place, and at the very least, it should disappear by the time someone gets out of their car with a crowbar. at that point they should think, “good grief, what am i doing? am i a killer? does this person deserve death for honking their horn at me?” but if someone has

  • kept a crowbar in their car for just these types of incidents,
  • followed another person home,
  • and hopped out of their car with said crowbar in hand,

then maybe they feel like there’s no turning back now. or maybe they’ve allowed themselves — in essence, chosen — to indulge in this adrenaline rush and thirst for blood. i personally believe the latter scenario is the most common.

it’s so fucked up. unless we find a way to make people feel more connected to those around them while driving, we’re not going to find a way to curb road rage. so i think anyone found guilty of it shouldn’t be allowed to drive, simple as that. they aren’t reasonable and rational enough to handle it.

busfight

make them all take the bus. better yet, have a bus dedicated to transporting road rage offenders. it would be like a traveling thunderdome from mad max. they’d eventually kill each other so it would both rid us of the violent SOB’s and provide top notch entertainment for the public. two birds with one stone.

i like me, and this

do you know what i like about this blog? besides every single post, i mean. i like that it gives me a place to write down my thoughts on random shit and review them as many times as i want. reviewing is actually really important to me because i frequently find the way i first write stuff isn’t quite what i mean or intended to communicate. in that case it’s nice because i can edit stuff over and over, even years afterward, until i’m finally satisfied that i have said what i actually wanted to. then in the future when i come back and read that post again, i think to myself, “i agree with my past self 100%. nice work, david.” that’s incredibly satisfying.

my last post is what got me thinking about this. the first paragraph about christians didn’t quite say what i had meant to say. it was a little unfocused, and a little finger-waggy. after 7 or 8 tweaks, i finally think i’ve got it, and that feels great.

i know this blog doesn’t mean much to anyone else, and tiny details like a few euphemisms or needless words here and there mean even less to others, but it’s important to me to say what i mean. i want to clearly and correctly represent my rage and indignity.

tetsuo

perfect!