A couple of weeks ago my husband and I and our youngest daughter drove to Pennsylvania to visit our two middle kids at sleep away camp. We had a great day of fun in the sun, seeing our teenagers and their bunks and activities had been wonderful, but it had been hot and with the drive it was quite a long day. So on the way home, not only were we tired, but we all felt grimy. You know that layer of dirt that sticks to the layer of sunscreen, and in between all of the layers you have been sweating? I couldn’t wait to get in the shower.
The car trip out took us around three hours without traffic and wasn’t bad; it was the return trip that proved… let’s say challenging. There we all are, grimy, tired, and stuck in horrid traffic that turned our three-hour drive into four and a half. Oh, I left out the best part: my three-year-old has motion sickness. At the end of flights or on long car rides, through much experience, I have learned to carry a plastic bag in my purse. I have developed a skill, that of catching projectile vomit in a plastic bag. So factor in vomit with fatigue, grime and frustration.
Is it any wonder that my Waze app navigator, Jane, started to get on my nerves? It’s funny – obviously I needed to vent some frustration and instead of picking on Michael, I directed my ire at the hapless, robotic Jane. In my defense, she’s incredibly bossy. And it had been a long day, who can blame me if I was tired of being told where to go? I know it sounds a bit like I have the issue, but with perfect self-awareness I identified that as the moment in dire need of some comic relief. And that’s when I discovered ‘boy band’ navigation. If you haven’t heard it, I implore you to do so. The ‘boy band’ voice navigation setting doesn’t boss, or direct, it sings directions. Think Justin Timberlake.
“Turrrrn left, turrrrrn left” it crooned.
“In half a mile turn riiiiight, then turn riiiight.”
Next thing I knew I was laughing so hard the long distance driving didn’t seem so bad or nearly as daunting. My husband and I tried all the options available and, as Hebrew and Farsi speakers, we came up with a few creative options ourselves – think ‘boy band: Middle Eastern edition’.
Next thing I knew I was laughing so hard the long distance driving didn’t seem so bad or nearly as daunting.
We’ve all been in these situations where we feel like we are on the verge…Something’s gotta give. And in fact, something does have to give, but we get to choose which way it goes. We can snap, be reactive, lash out, sulk, or blame people for our situation. Or we can have some fun.
We are all prone to anger and frustration. The truth is, giving in to the anger is easy. In fact, there is a feeling of satisfaction when we let ourselves vent and rage. But that satisfaction is short term and inevitably leaves us in a worse mood than we were to begin with. The harder – but far more rewarding – choice is to look for the good in the situation. Think of the good as a secret door; it’s hidden, but every situation has one. We find the easier way out through perspective, kindness, and consciousness.
We are all prone to anger and frustration. The truth is, giving in to the anger is easy.
To find the door and introduce laughter and levity into the situation, first identify why you’re feeling angry. I know it sounds so obvious that you wonder why I mention it at all, but think back to a time you lost your temper in a frustrating situation. Did you stop to examine why you were frustrated, or did you just feel frustrated and act on it? So often we don’t stop to connect our feelings with the cause. But when we know the cause we are so much better equipped to have some fun with it. Don’t get me wrong, there are some serious situations where anger is warranted, but if we’re honest, most of our anger occurs over the silly and mundane. Why was I annoyed? Because Jane was being bossy!
When we really look at the sources of our anger it’s often quite laughable. In fact, it reminds me of the meme ‘why my toddler is crying’. Here are a few good ones:
Why my toddler is crying:
- Someone ate all the muffins. It was him.
- The dinosaur tails are not fitting under the ottoman.
- Someone else is also walking on the sidewalk.
- Upon the realization that there are no actual trains involved in potty training.
Thought Into Action
When you notice yourself becoming tense or on the verge of anger, stop and really examine the cause. Often, with the self-awareness of why the feeling is arising, you’ll be stopped in your tracks at the silliness of the cause.