Don't take revenge, be happy

Little annoyances aren't a big deal. Don't let them get to you.

Sixty-five percent of Americans claim to be satisfied with their lives, the Pew Research Center recently found. Sixty-two percent expect their personal situation to improve during the next five years, according to a Harris poll.

I hope every one of those respondents will maintain an upbeat attitude each time they venture outside the front door. We need positive energy to resist all the negative impulses surging through society these days, especially when those impulses end up disrupting routine elements of everyday life.

I realize we live in a troubled world. That's why it's so important not to create new trouble where none exists. For example, at one time or another you've probably faced a situation that seems strange, illogical, or unnecessary. But just because something causes you to feel annoyed or frustrated it doesn't mean you're being victimized by "the system" and need to fight back.

A couple of years ago, I read a newspaper story that described this "we're not gonna take it" type of behavior as a normal part of modern culture. One guy who was interviewed for the article didn't like the way Starbucks designates cup sizes (as short, tall, grande, and venti). His way of fighting back was to use only standard terms such as "medium" and "large" when ordering drinks. I've seen similar behavior displayed at my favorite pizza place, where the two sizes available are called "large" and "giant."

The subhead on the story said, "Little acts of revenge can feel so good."

This notion is potentially useful in plotting a novel or TV show, but in the real world it fails on two levels. First of all, disputing the terminology of a cup size or other marketing detail just makes life harder for the clerk, who has no power over company policy. Why expend time and energy hassling an innocent bystander who's just doing a job?

Second, and perhaps more important, if minor annoyances create enough agitation within you that seeking little acts of revenge becomes a priority, where do you draw the line? Can you even tell the difference between getting pushed around and just feeling bothered? And what if your "I'm fighting back" gambit causes someone else to want revenge on you?

To me, it wouldn't matter if a company wanted to call its cup sizes "glork," "koopa," and "zeralack." I could work with that. Some people might say this proves I'm just a big talking marshmallow. Not true. It's just that I've set a high threshold for annoyance, and I keep issues in perspective.

It wasn't too many decades ago that business owners in America could offer selective service to patrons based on skin color. Knowing this, making a fuss about cup sizes or a long line, or berating the clerk because you got incorrect change, is pretty lame.

If revenge is on your personal agenda for today, consider erasing it. Everyday life is full of bumps. Most of them are not the little hills you want to die on. They aren't even worth a small skirmish.

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