How to Deal with Daily Irritations
You’re running late to work. Again. Some jerk yells at you. Some other jerk swoops in and takes your seat on the subway. Your coworker continues to gossip about everybody. Everybody. And shows no signs of stopping, no matter how many times you politely suggest they do. You have the worst date of all worst dates. You get a surprise bill. That pricey restaurant ends up serving terrible food. Your friend cancels after you arrive at the movies. You embarrass yourself during a work meeting. You get a parking ticket.
Our days are filled with frustrations, big, small, tiny. And it’s easy and natural to let it all pile up so that over time, you start feeling demoralized and burnt out. You start spinning all sorts of negative stories. Your mind takes a turn down a dark corner.
This is when a little creativity, humor and play can go a long way. Our perspective plays a vital role in everything. Which is why Siobhán Gallagher’s book In a Daze Work: A Pick-Your-Path Journey Through the Daily Grind is so powerful. In it Gallagher, an illustrator and designer, takes mundane moments, irritations and frustrations and finds the humor in them through her words and drawings.
For instance, on one page, Gallagher writes, “Once you get off the train and make your way home, you notice some guy yelling at you. You try to ignore him and when he realizes he’s not getting any kind of response from you, he calls you a witch. How did he know?! You hop on your broomstick and fly home.”
On a different page, after going to the movies, she writes, “You soon get home and walk right past all your adult responsibilities and obligations and decide to have a quick cat nap.”
She also talks about subway etiquette: “Be careful about lingering eye contact, smile at babies with exhausted parents, and always double-check if big tote bags are carrying scared tiny dogs. It’s the morning and people are tired, so basically, don’t be a jerk.”
And she draws a diagram of awkward elevator behavior, with thought bubbles that include: “internal resentment for the guy who came in last but is getting out before you” and “repetition of a chuckle and the word ‘yeah.'” (So true!)
Throughout the day, or at the end of each day, consider jotting down a few things that really bothered you. Then use them as clay to sculpt silly stories. Use them to create funny, quirky illustrations. Use your imagination to invent stories for random strangers, to explain why a certain frustrating moment happened (maybe the person is really an alien!).
Using humor and your imagination, finding play in mishaps and mundane moments empowers us. It reminds us that we can choose our perspective. It reminds us that we can provide what we need. Sometimes, we need to be upset. Sometimes, we need to wallow and cry and yell. And other times, we need a perspective shift. Other times, we need to laugh. We need to take life less seriously. We need to turn to our imaginations. And thankfully, this is something each and every one of us can absolutely do. At any time. Anywhere.
How can you find humor in the humdrum? How can you turn calamity into comedy? What silly stories and illustrations can you create? What happens when you turn to your imagination?
Tartakovsky, M. (2017). How to Deal with Daily Irritations. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 23, 2018, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/everyday-creativity/2017/07/how-to-deal-with-daily-irritations/