Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task. ~William James

Friday, July 9, 2010

On Life's Little Annoyances, and Keeping it Together

I find that I have been spending too much time lately on what the British affectionately term "aggro."  In checking its spelling this morning, I learned that not only was it short for "aggravation," as I understood, but that it can also stand in for "aggression," which I didn't know.  So, to be clear, I have been spending too much time feeling "irritation" and "exasperation," not indulging in "aggressive or violent behavior."  

Maybe it's the grouchy season.  Gretchen Rubin's Happiness Project blog featured an article this week on living with a "constantly crabby" sweetheart, in which she confesses to having "a strong tendency toward the crabby" herself.  Ehow advises us on "How to Survive a Crabby Boss," in 5 "moderately easy" steps.  And what boss wouldn't be crabby in the current economic climate?  And what worker can afford to heed the article's final warning:  
If the crabbiness at the office is affecting your productivity, it may be time to look for another job.
My own work is largely self-directed, so when I succomb to aggro, I am an irritated subordinate of an exasperated supervisor.  And how productive do you think that is?

The kinds of things that are getting to me the last couple of weeks are not entirely work-related.  For example, there is the enormous amount of time lost to remapping regular routes to take into account massive amounts of road construction.  Well, okay, that's work-related too.  And then there's the New York Times return to placing the Ken Ken puzzles over the fold in the Arts section, which bugs me every morning when I have to refold the paper to do the puzzles, and every evening, when I have to return the section to its original fold in order to add it to the recycling pile.  Grrr!  Yesterday, there was the guy who joined me in the lap lane at the pool, who left a powerful cologne in his wake.  Aaargh!  And the four people who disrupted my yoga class to take cell phone calls, leaping across the room and around dozens of mats to replace their jaunty ringtones with not-so-sotto voce conversations.  Yikes!  Oh, and the difficulty I have been having of late with web formatting, both on this blog and on the website I am paid to maintain.  Definitely work-related.  Of course, I should just break down and learn HTML, but in the short run, when my font-size keeps randomly vacillating, and my columns re-aligning, swear words must be sworn.  (Hmmm. . .  am I in danger of crossing over into aggressive, if not violent behavior?) 

As I am writing this, I have taken two calls from some group trying to sell me something related to a health condition my husband has.  Both callers' accents rendered them almost unintelligible, and both were treated to my rapid-fire "I-don't-have-any-more-money-to-spend-on-health-services-or-products,-but-thank-you-for-calling" response, followed by disconnection.  And both calls were clearly generated by some quasi-legal and completely offensive marketing of what should be private information, that I don't have the time or the energy to get to the bottom of.  Sheeeshhhhh!

The answer to all this is, of course, not to eliminate aggravation (not possible), or to stuff our reactions (not healthy).  But I know I don't want to give so much time and energy to these pesky occurrences, or to snap, or to become a total curmudgeon.  I am thinking of employing a variation of the potty-training method that has worked so well for my grandson, and rewarding myself with an M & M (just one, not a whole bag!) each time I succeed in recovering from irritation and moving on.  Although I suppose, given the high and seemingly accelerating level of aggro in my life at this moment, there is the danger that I will develop the health condition that apparently generates telemarketing calls!  But I'm willing to try anything to wrest my attention back to what matters.  Do they make dark chocolate M & Ms?

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