Putting Happiness First

I get frustrated a lot. This is a good thing and it’s a bad thing. It’s good because it pushes me to always improve. It’s bad because I spend a lot of my time annoyed at people.

I’ve been working harder lately to limit my complaints and increase my action. Rather than complain to someone about something they don’t have any control over (like talking to my wife about a work situation), I’ve been trying to address the issue with the people who can actually change things. I haven’t been entirely successful.

There’s this nature inside of me which is focused on what’s just. I can really get upset if something unjust happens. Anyone who has played soccer with me knows that I complain to the refs. Over all the years of playing, I’ve never been able to break the habit. Some games are better than others, but some games are awful. I end up going to sleep that night feeling guilty for the way I acted, even though it’s just a game. Thankfully it’s usually forgotten by the morning.

I don’t know the answer to it. When I feel that I’m fouled or when I’m called for a foul that I think know I didn’t commit, I just get defensive. I know what was right. I know the ref is wrong. I want to fix that. If I don’t fix it, the ref wins. I can’t let someone win if they don’t deserve it. All of this is pushing me to open my mouth and speak back. It sticks with me for several minutes after the incident, transforming from anger, to guilt for being a loudmouth, back to anger for having to be a loudmouth.

I know the solution is to let it go and just have fun, but something in my brain is just holding me back. I’d rather stew in annoyance and feel justified than forget about it and have fun. This isn’t a conscious decision and I can’t just try harder at it. In the same way that someone with the flu can’t just force themselves to feel better, I can’t force my brain to forget it. Not in the moment at least.

Back to work, I get frustrated a lot with the way things are done. A lot of times I don’t even know why I’m frustrated. Maybe I feel ignored; maybe I feel intruded on. Maybe it’s a need for a little bit of attention, although the introvert side of me doesn’t really want it. It’s a conflicting feeling and it doesn’t want to go away.

Even when I’m able to get the things I ask for, it’s hard to let go of that original annoyance. I feel like it’s letting whoever caused the annoyance off the hook. That would mean they win, and I don’t want people to win who don’t deserve to win.

On the drive to pick up my son today, I thought hard about putting happiness first. For so long, I’ve put being annoyed and being right first. I avoided the hard work of having a rational conversation with whoever can fix the problem, because then I won’t get to complain about it. I’ve unconsciously focused on being unhappy, as if that unhappiness is where I want to be. Even when I know the solution could be as simple as a quick comment to someone, I refuse to act because I feel they should be the ones doing the work.

But it’s time to change. It’s time to get frustrated with being frustrated and do something about it. I need to let go of anger and let go of frustration. I need to speak up. I need to do the hard work of letting go of ‘justice’ and start valuing my happiness over my unhappiness. I need to put happiness first.