Don't sweat the small stuff
Your life consists of many small chores and interactions
There is a famous quote "How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives." I cannot wonder if that quote takes into account the fact that most of our days consist of many micro-interactions and micro-chores.
Let's first define what terms micro-chore and micro-interaction mean to me.
A micro-chore is an action, or physical task, that can take anything between 2 seconds to 15 minutes to do. A chore is something you don't enjoy doing. It's called a chore for a reason. Because doing them is usually a low value activity. It's your $10/hour work with no leverage.
Doing dishes, folding laundry, closing a cabinet or a door, picking something up from the floor, taking out the garbage. All those are examples of chores that add little value to your life but that you still need to do.
I used to get extra annoyed when someone else failed to do something expected of them. It could be trivial things. For example when someone in my family didn't close the kitchen cabinet or failed to put their dirty plate in the dishwasher after a meal.
But then I realized that I was spending more energy being annoyed that it would take me to do the damn chore myself. So I started doing the chores myself. The problem was that they were still boring, because I was still feeling annoyed while doing them.
And one day it all clicked. I learned to let go of the feeling of annoyance with one simple trick.
The trick is to approach every chore with mindfulness. To give it your full attention. Sounds cheesy but there is actually a good reason for it. When you do the chore and you feel annoyed or irritated you waste your energy. But if you approach it with full focus and mindfulness you actually train your focus, attention and the art of letting go.
Every small chore then becomes a micro exercise in mindfulness. Focus, complete attention, letting go. It makes every experience unique in its own way if you can concentrate fully on it.
Boring suddenly becomes interesting.
Someone cuts you off in traffic or someone walks into you in the street and yells something. There are many types of micro-interactions in our daily lives. The kind I want to talk about is the non-relational type. It's an interaction with someone you don't know or have no relationship with.
I used to get annoyed and I always had even more annoying post-reaction. "I should've said something smart back", "I should have done this or that." I use to think a lot of what I could have said or done, all the smart one-liners. I noticed that I got carried away in the evil spiral of annoyance because my ego got hurt.
Then I came up with a rule for myself. There is no reason to get annoyed or upset if nothing serious happened.
You are dealing with people and people are unpredictable. You getting annoyed means they managed to get to you, intentionally or not. They somehow managed to affect your feelings, your ego, your pride, your self-worth and they forced you to spend your mental energy on it.
Why let them do that? You don't know them and have no relationship to them. Strange, isn't it? Just let it go.
Again, you get a chance to train yourself of letting go of the things that are not important to you or your life.
How to practice? When the situation happens try to bring your attention to the now. Focus on external things. Your surroundings, the sounds around you. I've noticed that if I bring my attention inward, it can be on my feelings and emotions, I get caught up in them.
Now I am gradually learning to focus inward and inspect my feelings. It's actually a very interesting exercise to do. You learn to view your feelings and emotions objectively and see them for what they are. You become the silent observer.
I know it all sounds like new age bullshit, but when you learn to observe your feelings and emotions objectively, when you hear your inner critic, you cannot stop wondering who is the observer and who is that voice in your head? This is the practice of detaching from your ego, your inner critic.
Remember, you often spend more energy being annoyed about something than actually doing it or just letting it go.
Next time it happens ask yourself - Is it worth it?