I’ve stopped talking about things that annoy me. (At least, when I manage to catch myself before I finish talking.)
This resolution was inspired by one of my favorite authors, Samuel Johnson. “To hear complaints,” Johnson observed, “is wearisome alike to the wretched and the happy.”
So I don’t recount the story of my tangle with Time Warner Cable. I don’t repeat the epic saga of how my laptop screen broke and what I had to do to get it fixed. I’m not telling everyone about the difficulties I’m facing while writing the book proposal for the Happiness Project.
Sometimes it’s a relief to talk about such things, but even when it’s a relief, I’ve noticed, it’s also an irritant. I get caught up again in the bad feelings that the episode aroused.
Often, too, it’s not a relief to talk about things that annoy me. So why do I do it? Out of some twisted feeling of obligation, a notion that I owe it to my friends or family to keep them up-to-date on what’s happening in my life: the Starbucks incident looms large in my mind, so it seems like an important news item. But zoikes, they don’t care if they remain ignorant of the Starbucks incident, or my email problem, or the leak in the living room ceiling, or how I’m behind schedule to finish that pesky book proposal.
I break this resolution frequently, and not because it’s so much fun to re-live annoying episodes. Turns out, it’s not that much fun. But complaining is a habit. The hard part is to be conscious of what I’m doing, before I do it, so I can remember not to do it.
Maybe I need to get out the orange reminder bracelet from Pollyanna Week, and put it to use again.
In some aimless wandering through the internet (resolution for March: allow myself to explore the internet) I came across an amusing blog, Paper Napkin, that I recommend.
I do have one question. As on Paper Napkin, I’ve noticed many bloggers posting “100 Things” lists as a way to describe themselves. I love these lists and always read them, but what started this? Is there some secret blogger memo that I don’t know about?