There’s an important reason that I didn’t talk about tolerations (gosh-durn-it, I still like “micro-annoyances” better) being applied to people. There’s a couple of reasons for that: one is that something that seems endearing one moment may seem unbearingly irritating the next, and even further down the road may seem wistfully nostalgic (especially if the person or relationship is gone).
The other reason is simply because hinging your own happiness or peace of mind on the behaviors or habits of others is not a very efficient way to manage your moods. It’s much more practical to focus on things that you have control over: your actions and your responses. Notice I did not say “your feelings” or “your reactions”. No matter how much you work at it, your neurochemistry is faster than your conscious thought. We’d like to think the sequence of events is Something happens – Decide how to react – React but it’s actually more like Something happens – React – Rationalize and justify the reaction.
I know, it’s annoying. But it’s also science.
On the other hand, we can be pro-active about it. We can decide that we’re going to create little bubbles of joy in other people’s lives. Random acts of kindness – holding the door for someone with their hands full, smiling non-aggressively, moving over to let someone pass you. Yes, yes, the big things are good too – donating to charity, writing a recommendation, endowing a scholarship.
But those are typical things. What if instead of being typical, you were a kindness superhero? Where you identified places where tolerations might be sneaking up on people and then find ways to zap them away? One of my favorites – instigated by my stashbelt, in fact – is to leave a bigger-than-usual tip for someone in the service industry.
What’s the Ninja Got to Do With It?
I recommend that whatever acts of joy you commit you do in stealth mode. Why? Much like the reasons I mentioned above: if you’re doing things to elicit a specific reaction from someone else, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. Think of the perfect act of joy being the one that the person never actually realizes happened – you made their life so much better that they never even knew it could go wrong. Truly skilled you are, Jedi of Love!
The other reason is because you get the benefit of your intent. If something doesn’t work out then if someone knows what you’re trying they may be disappointed. On the other hand, you know that you had that intention – and that in itself can make you feel pretty gosh-darned good.
I hope you go into this weekend with an eye for opportunities for being a Superhero Ninja of Joy. Because tolerations are out there everywhere, just waiting to pounce – and that’s intolerable.