Unfriendly people.

Bad drivers.

Incompetent customer service reps.

These are a few of my least favorite things. In fact, they’re downright annoying.

Now, I’m normally known for my overly optimistic attitude and flashy smile. Hell, I write about happiness for a living. But encounters with irritating people are enough to turn this peppy rebel into a defensive, rage-filed driver who expects all call center responders are out to get me. It’s awkward and uncomfortable.

But you get annoyed with other people, too.

(Yeah…I caught ya.)

Remember that airline worker who wouldn’t put you on the flight you desired? Or the Wendy’s employee who always puts pickles on your sandwich even though you specifically asked them not to? I saw you pounding your steering wheel in a fit of rage as you tailgated that 90-year-old World War II veteran who was driving 10mph under the speed limit.

Or wait, was that me?

Either way, it’s pretty clear that other people have a way of getting under our skin.

So we huff and we puff. We bitch and we moan. We yell at people for not doing what we expect them to do. Because you know that you’re right and that they’re wrong. You refuse to back down.

But here’s the catch, darlin’…

All of that huffing and puffing? It’s not going to blow down their incompetently built house. Getting frustrated is not helping your case. It’s actually killing you.

And it makes you look fat.

Unfortunately, you cannot and will never be able to control the people around you.

(I’ll give you a second to mourn the death of that idea.)

Now…I do have some splendid news. There is one thing that you can always control: Your reaction to the situation.

I bet that if you take the following advice, you may even find yourself empathizing with that evil airline employee whose life mission, it seemed, was to trap you in Fargo, North Dakota for the rest of your life.

So, the next time that you come across an annoying person, sit down, take a deep breath, and remind yourself of the following:

  1. Everyone has pain.
  2. Everyone has fear.
  3. Everyone has a dream.

All anyone is ever trying to do is avoid the first two and accomplish the third.

And if…

…you consider other people’s hopes and dreams instead of stewing in angry frustration over something that they did, then you will undoubtedly want to help them.

…you remember that everyone experiences pain, stress, and anxiety, then you might just feel less lonely and more connected.

…you imagine what scares a person the most, then you will surely feel humbled.

…you read these 9 tips for dealing with difficult people, then you will feel armed and protected. (Number six is my favorite).

Instead of adding fuel to the fire, let’s try to make the world a better place, shall we?

Here are 9 super-simple things that you can do to brighten someone else’s day. Who knows? It might even brighten your own.

  1. Pay for someone’s coffee (c’mon, it’s a dollar).
  2. Leave your server an 80% tip.
  3. Tell someone that you are proud of their work.
  4. Hold the door open.
  5. Write an inspiring message on a piece of scrap paper and leave it on a table in a coffee shop or on someone’s windshield.
  6. Tell someone that they can go in front of you in line.
  7. Bake cookies for your neighbor.
  8. Send a birthday card to an old friend.
  9. Drop a dollar bill on the sidewalk.

For more ideas, I suggest watching the movie, Amélie. And I also suggest reading this piece that shows you 10 small ways to make the world a better place.

(Photo credit: Young Adult Woman and Man Holding Emoticons via Shutterstock)

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