I’ve been listening to some long-forgotten audiobooks that were in the depth of one of my computer’s drives, but were automatically downloaded to my iPhone. As I was waiting in the McDonalds drive-through, I listened to the speaker talk about various daily irritations that put people in a bad mood. As I listened, I felt pretty good about myself: “People get upset about that? I’d never let that bother me. Wow, maybe I’m all enlightened now!”
Unfortunately, I missed the next five minutes of the audiobook as I became fixated on the car in front of me. The driver, on his cell phone, could barely manage the corner to get to the speaker. Then he was still talking as he was asked for his order. He then negotiated the next corner to the pay window still talking on his cell phone and obviously trying to get his billfold out of his pocket. Since I go to that McDonalds every day, I knew he was tripling my wait time by not hanging up and concentrating on the business at hand.
Annoyed, I bought my drink and got on the road and started listening to my audio book again. The speaker was still talking about the ills of irritation, and suddenly my bad mood dissipated as I had to laugh at myself. No, I wasn’t enlightened. I was a textbook case of useless irritation.
Let’s face it: I was going to be in the drive-through line the same amount of time whether I was annoyed or not. I had two options. I could have gotten out of my car and told the guy to hang up his phone. But that was something I was never going to do. Or I could have listened to my book, and let the time pass by more pleasantly. Being irritated at him simply resulted in my wasting a few minutes of life that I wasn’t going to get back.
So perhaps the lesson here is to ask the question: Can I do anything about this irritating situation? If the answer is yes, then do it. If the answer is no, find a more pleasant alternative than dwelling on your irritation.