We are not robots. That's a good thing because that makes every single engagement we have with anybody beautifully unique. However, it also means that we are sometimes bothered by things that shouldn't really bother us at all.
How do we move past these things? How do we not let these things bother us and affect our days? Some people seem to never be bothered by small nuances. What can we learn from these people?
Today, I want to share the best tips to no longer be bothered by stuff that shouldn't bother you at all. I've asked others to share actual examples in order to provide actionable tips that you can use right away.
- Should you never be bothered by anything at all?
- Why do little things bother you so much?
- How to not let things bother you (6 tips)
- How to not let things bother you FAQ
- Wrapping up
Should you never be bothered by anything at all?
As a quick disclaimer: obviously, there are things in life that SHOULD bother us. I'm not going to tell you that you shouldn't be bothered by anything anymore after reading this article. That's just nonsense. Everybody faces hardships, we lose the people we love, we sometimes fail, we get sick or injured, etc.
These are things that naturally bother us, and that's just a logical reaction. In these cases, being bothered, sad, or stressed is a good emotional reaction to have.
Instead, this article is about the things that bother us that can be prevented. Things that end up being pointless and could have been avoided altogether.
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Why do little things bother you so much?
If you're often annoyed by little things, you're not alone. It often seems like there's an endless list of things that could bother you.
In fact, there are entire articles dedicated to determining the most annoying things in the world. For example, this article has listed 50 things that could bother you.
Some examples are:
- When people are not standing on the proper side while riding an escalator.
- People tapping their feet.
- People talking during a movie.
- Not replacing the toilet roll (oh, the horror.)
- Chewing with your mouth open.
- People that are not ready to order when they're at the counter.
- People talking loudly on their phones on speaker.
With all these things, it's easy to see how we can be bothered by these little things. After all, these are things that happen on a daily basis.
It's therefore important to know how to not let these things bother you so much. Especially since the alternative is to be slowly driven insane by people chewing with their mouths open!
How to not let things bother you (6 tips)
Here are 6 tips that you can use right away that will help you not be bothered by pointless stuff anymore.
1. Nonreaction is not weakness, but strength
Sometimes, our own reactions to things that bother us only result in more annoyance. This is something that my granddad thought me when I was young. Remaining silent is more often than not a better method of dealing with annoyances as opposed to speaking up.
There's a reason why people don't voice all their thoughts.
Most of us try to filter our thoughts in order to not make us say negative, naive, or hurtful things. This filter normally keeps us cool, calm, and well-informed. However, when we are bothered by something, we sometimes forget to use this filter.
What my granddad taught me is that remaining silent is almost always a sign of wisdom and strength.
- Remaining silent keeps you from engaging in pointless discussions, arguments, or gossip.
- Remaining silent helps you better formulate your own opinion based on what others say.
- When you start venting about the things that bother you, you have the tendency to exaggerate things a bit, which will only further increase your irritation (more on that in the next tip).
Stephen Hawking said it quite well:
Quiet people have the loudest minds.
Another great example of how to not let things bother you comes from Allen Klein. I asked him to share his beautiful example of how nonreaction allowed him to not be bothered by something.
Years ago, when I was writing my first book, The Healing Power of Humor, I stopped socializing with my friends. I had a book contract to write 120,000 words and a six-month deadline to complete the work. Having never written a book before, the project seemed daunting. I had no idea how long it would take to complete. For months, I did not call or contact any of my friends. As a result, after the manuscript was completed, one of them wanted to meet me in a coffee shop.
There, he read me a long list of why he never wanted to see me again. As I recall, he had over sixty items on it.
I was stunned by his breaking-up our long friendship, but I also realized that nearly everything he said was true. I didn’t return his calls. I didn’t send him a birthday card. I didn’t come to his garage sale, etc.
My friend was extremely angry and wanted me to defend myself and fight back, but I did the opposite. I agreed with most of what he said. Moreover, instead of being confrontational, I told him that anyone who had given so much time and thought to our relationship must really love me. Instead of adding fuel to a volatile situation, I put what he said about me in neutral. I didn’t get angry or become defensive.
P.S.: My friend and I are good friends once again and frequently joke about “The I-Never-Want-to-See-You-Again” list. Now when either of us does something that irritates the other, we call out what the next number might be on the list…and laugh.
2. Don't exaggerate the things that bother you!
Here's one thing I often notice when people get bothered by something: they start to exaggerate every little thing that bothers them. Here are some examples:
- What happened: The food arrived a little late at the restaurant and it was not as hot as you expected?
- The exaggerated version: The service is terrible and all the food was disgusting!
- What happened: It was raining on your way to work.
- The exaggerated version: Your entire morning was shit and now the rest of your day is ruined.
- What happened: Your flight got delayed during a holiday.
- The exaggerated version: The first day of your holiday is messed up and your entire plan has been ruined.
Everybody does this occasionally. I do this too. But I try my best to limit it as much as possible. Why? Because exaggerating the negative things in our lives usually makes them bigger in our heads. Before you know it, you will have convinced yourself that your exaggerated version of the events is really what happened!
And that's when things start to have a bigger effect. At this point, you're not just bothered anymore. At this stage, you may have already embraced a mindset of skepticism and negativity. Some people exaggerate simple stuff (like bad weather outside) to the point where they feel like a victim of this unfair situation.
It's important to not let it get this far.
That's why you need to objectively reflect on the things that bother you. If the current weather outside is bothering you, try not to exaggerate it into something bigger ("my whole day is ruined").
3. Be optimistic instead of pessimistic
Did you know that optimists are generally more successful and happier in life? A lot of people don't realize this as they choose to be pessimistic by default instead. These people often don't like being called pessimists and refer to themselves as realists. Do you recognize these people? Maybe you recognize yourself here?
The thing is, if you're a pessimist, you will often allow yourself to be bothered by things that shouldn't really bother you. Here's a quote I always love to think of:
A pessimist sees the negatives or the difficulty in every opportunity whereas an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.
— Winston Churchill
A pessimist will focus on the negative aspect of things, which results in a higher likelihood of being bothered by stuff. Don't believe me? This was actually studied in the Journal of Research in Personality. The study found that pessimism and stress are highly correlated with each other.
The truth is, whether you focus on something positive or negative is a choice. You often make this choice unconsciously, but that doesn't mean you can't influence this process.
We've written an entire article on how to be a more optimistic person.
4. Don't assume the worst when something bad happens
Sometimes, when someone does something that bothers us, we naturally assume that their intentions were to hurt us. I have to admit, again, that I do this myself too. When my girlfriend calls me out for not doing something I said I would, my first reaction is to think that she just wants to hassle me.
If I then decide to speak out my first reaction (and not use my internal filter first as discussed before) then this will surely bother both myself and my girlfriend.
A much better thing to do is to think of other reasons why other people do the things they do. A good method to do this is to just ask yourself the question "Why?"
Why does my girlfriend feel the need to call me out? When I truly answer that question, I will come to the natural conclusion that it's not because she wants to hassle me. No, she's just trying to maintain a relationship in which we can trust and build upon each other. At this point, I'll know that this situation should definitely not bother me.
That's why it's very important to not just assume the worst when something bothers you.
5. Embrace the power of humor as a coping mechanism
In a survey of 1,155 respondents, we found that happiness is determined as follows:
- 24% is determined by genetics.
- 36% is determined by external factors.
- 40% is determined by your own outlook.
I hope by now that it's clear that this article is about the 40 percent that we can influence. Our personal outlook can be influenced a lot if we learn how to not let things bother us.
It turns out humor is a great coping mechanism when dealing with things that bother us.
One of our readers - Angela - shared this example with us. She used humor to counter an experience that could have bothered her.
I am an independent insurance agent. This requires knocking on a lot of doors that are strangers to me. I receive a plethora of responses from very kind and welcoming, to rude and dismissive.
When I knocked on one specific door when returning for a scheduled appointment, I was met with a cleverly worded sign that I was not to knock and if I did, ‘waking sleeping baby’, that I would ‘be cut’. It actually made me laugh. I went to my vehicle and created a reply with my phone number on the bottom. I thanked them for the giggle, applauded their creativity in the face of being new, and very tired parents. Lastly, I offered to meet them, and buy them dinner at their choice of location, when convenient for them.
I received a call about a month later, had a nice dinner with these new young parents, and sold them insurance.
6. Journal about the things that bother you
The last tip is to journal about the things that bother you. More often than not, journaling allows us to step back from our irrational annoyances and reflect on them more objectively.
Just grab a piece of paper, put a date on it, and start writing down the things that annoy you. Here are a number of benefits of doing this that you'll notice:
- Writing down your annoyances forces you to confront them objectively since it's less likely you'll exaggerate when writing it down without having to persuade someone into agreeing with you.
- Writing something down can prevent it from causing chaos in your head. Think of this as clearing the RAM memory of your computer. If you've written it down, you can safely forget about it and start with an empty slate.
- It will allow you to look back at your struggles objectively. In a few months' time, you can look back at your notepad and see how much you've grown.
Participants in this study on journaling and reducing anxiety found that journaling enabled them to better identify their triggers. In other words, journaling helped them identify the things that bothered them. By recounting situations in detail, participants could better see the minor triggers and coping strategies that took place.
This benefit of journaling will help you to better deconstruct the issues without getting your thoughts distracted.
How to not let things bother you FAQ
How do I stop letting things bother me?
Here are some tips that you can use right away:
1. Don't react to annoying things. Sometimes, our own reactions to things that bother us only result in more annoyance.
2. Don’t assume the worst when something bad happens.
3. Learn to laugh about the things that annoy you and use humor as a coping mechanism.
Everybody faces hardships, but sometimes, simple hardships can bother you disproportionately. This is often caused by stress, anger, a lack of confidence, lack of sleep, or general restlessness.
💡 By the way: If you want to start feeling better and more productive, I've condensed the information of 100's of our articles into a 10-step mental health cheat sheet here. 👇
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There you have it. These are the 6 tips that I've found to work best when trying to not let things bother you.
- Not reacting at all is often the best thing to do.
- Stop exaggerating the things that bother you.
- Be optimistic instead of pessimistic.
- Don't assume to worst when something bad happens.
- Embrace the power of humor as a coping mechanism.
- Journal about the things that bother you.
If you have another tip that you want to share or want to provide a different opinion, I'd love to hear all about it! Let me know how you feel in the comments below.