You know pet peeves. Those minor annoyances, those personal complaints that just drive you crazy! They may not bother everyone in the same way—that’s part of the quirkiness of pet peeves. But when they irritate you, your reaction is extreme, agitated. Pet peeves make you cringe much like hearing finger nails on a chalkboard. These disturbing little actions by others can make me want to scream—and I am usually pretty calm. Whoopi Goldberg explains how her level of irritation can jump to an even higher level: “I don’t have pet peeves like some people. I have whole kennels of irritation.”
I am not at such an extreme level. . . yet. But I am spending much too much time focusing on these negative pet peeves. This realization came when I read a posting on HeatherBlog called “Profound loss, profound gratitude.” She shared a personal loss and her decision to not dwell on the negative but to embrace life and look for what she had to be grateful for, even in troubling times. Her whole approach to life made me see my own complaining as a pet peeve I usually deplore in others. I hate complainers who do nothing about the problem situation but whine and whine. I am embarrassed to say I was becoming one of those people!
Earlier this year, I recommitted myself to being grateful, to expressing my thanks and appreciation more consistently and more often. It is not a new focus as I have talked about gratitude several times in the past. My problem is that lately I’ve been noticing pet peeves more and more often. To try to change that reality, I have decided to step-up and turn my pet peeves into points of gratitude.
My List of Pet Peeves and Their Corresponding Gratitude:
PET PEEVE 1: Stupid Drivers. These drivers dangerously zip through traffic, driving much faster than the flow of traffic and cutting folks off in the process. They include motorcycle drivers who drive between lanes, speeding up the space between cars.
GRATITUDE 1: These drivers are actually few and far between; that’s why I notice them. So when I do, I will now express thanks for the bulk of drivers who are careful and sane as we all speed along.
PET PEEVE 2: Guilt-Inducing Messages. These emails and Facebook posts try to guilt their readers into sending the nonsense message on with such lines as “Let’s see how many people will not be afraid to repost in fear of offending someone. . . or to show how caring a person you are. . . or to prove you love God like I do.” You get the idea.
GRATITUDE 2: I am smart enough not to fall for such drivel and can simply delete to my heart’s content. I never sent chain letters on when they would arrive in an envelope from the postal service either. I will be thankful for not succumbing to peer pressure, even in such silly matters.
PET PEEVE 3: Entertainment News. How can stories about what celebrities do, who they date, what they wear, who tweeted what be news?
GRATITUDE 3: I can be sensible and discriminating enough to just not watch, even though these segments are often hidden in the Evening News Show. How ridiculous is that? I will be thankful for all channels of quality programming I can turn to.
PET PEEVE 4: Liars. These are not the people who say they like your hair even if they don’t or kids who deny doing something wrong. I mean the adults who purposefully obfuscate things to make themselves look better, who share details out of context and thus change meaning, who out and out lie on important matters.
GRATITUDE 4: Most friends and most of the others I encounter are not out-and-out liars, and I can try to avoid the ones who are. I will be thankful for honesty and integrity, especially when I am faced with someone who does not exhibit those traits.
PET PEEVE 5: Rude Talkers. These people chat incessantly through movies or concerts and talk loudly on their cellphones in public places like restaurants or churches. These people never put their cellphones on vibrate, even when out in public.
GRATITUDE 5: I am not one of those people. These jerks are not as numerous as they seemed to be years ago—and I am thankful for the many people who do not practice this rude behavior.
PET PEEVE 6: Litterers. These people just throw trash or cigarettes out their car windows, leave garbage—often including kids’ dirty diapers—in parking lots, and do not pick up trash thrown at receptacles but missed. The earth is our home!
GRATITUDE 6: I will be thankful for the kind responsible souls who actually stop and pick up trash wherever they see it as they walk along. We all need to start practicing this thoughtful behavior.
PET PEEVE 7: Indestructible Packaging. These are not the packing peanuts and such that are not biodegradable—but they are bad. These are the wrappings on things like DVDs and CDs and child-proofed bottles that are absolutely impossible to open without contortions and sharp objects.
GRATITUDE 7: I am thankful that I ever get those packages opened at all. And that some packaging is actually being simplified. Yeah.
PET PEEVE 8: Annoying Drivers. These are the people who never turn off their turn signals—or turn without ever turning them on. They drive 10-15 miles under the speed limit, in the left lane. They never let others merge in when stopped and waiting in a long line. People like that.
GRATITUDE 8: I give thanks for the drivers who say, “Sorry” if they do something silly or problematic on the road, who let others merge easily, and who even say “thanks” when you are helpful and responsive to them. These people make my day.
PET PEEVE 9: Non-responders. You know these people. They do not say thank-you for gifts, do not acknowledge emails or e-greeting cards, ask questions of you but do not answer your questions of them, ask for updates but do not even say “got it” when you do send it on. I guess it is a seeming air of entitlement that ignores anyone but themselves that underlies their behavior—and it irks me.
GRATITUDE 9: I am very thankful for friends and family who are responsive and appreciative. Besides, I can always stop sending to the jerks or stop expecting them to give a polite response.
I must admit, compiling this list helped me focus ultimately on the good, not the irritation. It felt right to turn pet peeves into expressions of gratitude. Since the only thing I can control is my behavior and reactions, then I vow to stay positive. Honest.
What is irritating you lately? How can you turn it into something positive?
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Silent gratitude isn’t much use to anyone. G. B. Stern
There is nothing so annoying as to have two people talking when you’re busy interrupting. Mark Twain
Always forgive your enemies–nothing annoys them so much. Oscar Wilde
If you can’t annoy somebody, there’s little point in writing. Kingsley Amis
Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example. Mark Twain
The problem with people who have no vices is that generally you can be pretty sure they’re going to have some pretty annoying virtues. Elizabeth Taylor
Humor is the great thing, the saving thing. The minute it crops up, all our irritations and resentments slip away, and a sunny spirit takes their place. Mark Twain
NOTE: The two photos are from Microsoft Word ClipArt files. The words are mine.