How to deal with annoying people like a stoic

I am normally patient and incredibly hard to offend. But recently, I lost my cool over a few things. Then I realise a few of my pet peeves I never thought existed:
  1. Petulant/ unreasonable/whiny adults
  2. Illogical arguments
  3. People who does not reply to messages/return calls

What is pet peeve?


plural noun: pet peeves
  1. something that a particular person finds especially annoying.

Feeling offended is a waste of energy

Tim Ferriss said:
“If you’re offended easily, you’re a bad resource allocator. It’s a waste of energy and attention, which is a greater sin than wasting time” 

Many of us complain about being tired and not having enough time for ourselves. But have we thought about how we waste our time and energy? Such as getting annoyed over little things that are insignificant in the grand scheme of things?

We then spend time playing the ugly episode in our mind again and again, and proceed to complain it to anybody who is willing to listen. Not a good way to spend our two precious resources: time and energy.

3 Ways To Deal with Annoyance

In the effort to save time and energy (while preserving my peace and sanity), I found three ways to deal with pesky people:

1) Lower my standards towards people’s behaviour 

We have certain expectations towards people. Sometimes we don’t realise that it’s higher than usual. Even if it’s low to begin with, what other people say or do is out of our control. What we can do is adjust our reaction towards it and/or lower our expectations.
Many Stoic practice starting their day expecting that they will meet people who annoy them. This is how the greatest Roman emperor, Marcus Aurelius, started his day:
“Begin each day by telling yourself: Today I shall be meeting with interference, ingratitude, insolence, disloyalty, ill-will, and selfishness – all of them due to the offenders’ ignorance of what is good or evil. But for my part I have long perceived the nature of good and its nobility, the nature of evil and its meanness…therefore none of those things can injure me, for nobody can implicate me in what is degrading.” – Marcus Aurelius, Meditations 
Even a revered emperor meets people who are not pleasing, what more common people like us? And if an emperor has such low expectations towards people, we can too.

2) Win the person, not the argument

It’s pointless to win the argument if you lose the person’s friendship. Especially if the person is important to you.

Despite my urge to say what I think other people need to hear, I’ve decided to hold my tongue. Having a good relationship is more important than being right.

3) Don’t give a f*ck. Life is too short.

If #1 and #2 fail, then follow Mark Manson’s advise in ‘The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck’

“You and everyone you know are going to be dead soon. And in the short amount of time between here and there, you have a limited amount of f*cks to give. Very few, in fact. And if you go around giving a f*ck about everything and everyone without conscious thought or choice—well, then you’re going to get f*cked.” – Mark Manson

Life is too short to care too much about petty things. Channel the energy on things that truly matters. Think and spend time on more important things in life e.g that course that you are considering to take that will help with your career, not on little things e.g the person who did not return your calls.

What are your pet peeves?  How did you deal with it?

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