Why do we get upset at things that make little to no difference in our lives? I like to consider myself a fairly calm person. Few people have actually seen me really upset. In fact, if you ask my mother, she might tell you that I’m a little too calm. But there are those times when even I get inexplicably frustrated at things that really don’t make much sense to be mad about. For me, some of those triggers are somebody cutting me off when walking, smacking at dinner, and spitting while talking. Those acts, while annoying, really don’t make much of a difference in my life in the long term. The person, most likely, didn’t intend to irritate me. However, it still seems to urk me. I was reading Emotions Revealed the other day by Paul Ekman, when I cam across this passage…
When we are gripped by an inappropriate emotion, we interpret what is happening in a way that fits with how we are feeling and ignore our knowledge that doesn’t fit.
Emotions change how we see the world and how we interpret the actions of others. We do not seek to challenge why we are feeling a particular emotion; instead, we seek to confirm it.
That passage really made me think. I was upset because I was using my environment to confirm my frustration rather than thinking about what was really making me upset. This morning, I was walking, and somebody inadvertently stepped in front of me. Instead of getting a tension headache, I thought, “Is it really that big of a deal?”
Try to keep a positive mindset and things will seem more positive. Keep a negative one, and you create a negative self-fulfilling prophecy.