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6 Tips on How Not to Let Things Bother You (With Examples)

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?

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. The things that bother us that eventually end up being pointless and could have been avoided altogether.

💡 By the way: Do you find it hard to be happy and in control of your life? It may not be your fault. If you want to start feeling better, we've condensed the information of 100's of our articles into a 10-step mental health cheat sheet to help you be more in control. 👇

hugo huijer

Being Happy Is Freaking Hard!

But it doesn't have to be! These 10 tips will protect you from anything that's trying to steal your happiness!

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 annoyances. 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 really simple stuff (like bad weather outside) to a 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 annoyances.
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.

Why do I let everything bother me?

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, we've condensed the information of 100's of our articles into a 10-step mental health cheat sheet here. 👇

hugo huijer

Instantly Improve Your Mental Health For Free

Thrive under stress and crush your goals with these 10 instant tips for your mental health.

Wrapping up

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.

Hugo Huijer Founder of Tracking Happiness

Hi! I'm from the Netherlands, love skateboarding, ran 5 marathons, with one of them in under 4 hours (3:59:58 to be exact). I consider myself to be a data junkie and have tracked my happiness for over 10 years.

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20 thoughts on “6 Tips on How Not to Let Things Bother You (With Examples)”

  1. God has blessed me with your article today! I have been determined to find a way to not dwell on things that bother me. Almost always it is something someone has said. I fight it for weeks and sometimes months. I have been beginning to feel like I am losing so much of my life thinking about things that other people would ignore or put behind them. I have been doing a lot of praying for a while now. Recently, I felt God had placed on my heart to start a Happy-Thoughts Book. The idea was to fill composite books with happy nuggets such as verses, quotes, anything that makes me smile.
    I am definitely writing your grandfather’s advice in my book. Being told to “Just let it go.” or “Don’t let it get to you.” and “Don’t think about it.” are not helpful at all. I wish I had had someone like you and your granddad years ago to tell me how to not let things people say live rent free in my head.
    I am getting tired. I make friends easily but I am 59 and I have been walking away from relations with people as long as I can remember. My home life was not good so I have tried to forget most of my childhood. Then three failed marriages over the next 30 years. I have tried to wipe out decades of my life now. Finally I am settled down and am happily married but the last five years now it has been with people that feel like they can say whatever they want to me about my daughter, husband, or brother. It is never expected. They supposedly didn’t mean anything bad by it. And since I don’t know when my breaking point will be reached, I don’t have a well-crafted response so my knee-jerk reaction response takes them by surprise. I am usually so easy going that my response, wait for it, hurts their feelings. Imagine that! I am put in the position of having to say something yet I “hurt their feelings”. I am so tired of being the better person and apologizing to keep peace and not cause problems in a group or my family. It’s exhausting!

    I would recommend for other readers, in addition to writing down what bothers them, that they also focus on happy things that make them smile. I call them gold nuggets that fill my heart and mind until all that people see are rays of sunshine that flood my soul.

    Your article is constructive advise. You are very helpful. Thank you so much! I want to read more of your articles and read your cheat sheet.
    God bless you, Hugo!

  2. I want to thank you for this post. It has really helped me put a situation into perspective which could have gotten really out of hand and then upset someone I love as a consequence. All because of my overthinking and taking little things too personally and not letting them go. It really spoke to me.
    I wonder if you have a book or can recommend one which could continue to help in the long run? Although I have bookmarked this post and will reread!
    Thank you.

  3. I moved into a new neighborhood and everyone sucks! All the neighbors except for one elderly couple. They bother me all day just to make me miserable and move out. So thank you for your advice. I’ll use it to try not to let it bother me.

    • I just think that being annoyed by a neighbor stomping on the floor is a big reason to feel kind of anxious. I believe that in a case like this it's impossible to smile or laugh or to be optimistic or not to think it's done to hurt one, specially when I had already told the manager of this place. This is a quiet place where you are given a lease with all rules.. so common sense but I'm quite just recording..

  4. I was facing real discomfort since a week on how I should change my mindset and stop overthinking. I’ve been facing a lot of issues at my workplace and everyday all I could think about is how I’m going to talk to my colleague about the politics that they’ve been playing behind my back. Besides spending a relaxed weekend with family I decided to sulk on my office issues. I kept researching about how I can stop overthinking how I should stop reacting to small things. Coming across your article has changed my entirely, reading your article changed my entire decision of how I need to react to what’s happening with me at my workplace. Sharing your granddad’s golden thoughts really felt connected. I really feel people like me really need people like you. Thank you for this amazing piece.. it may sound a little stupid but your article really did have a major impact on how I should react.. many thanks…

  5. You’re a blessing to humankind. There really need to be more people like you. You can put certain things in words that have the capability of changing lives, and that, is a very big thing!
    Thank you so so much!

  6. Thankyou for all of the inspiration I really need. I wasn't sure how to go about some of the challenges I face at times, and you have helped me to learn how to handle things better. Makes me feel much more confident now.

      • My biggest issues that I cannot find help for or a way to deal with it, is I am a way too over sensitive person. I cannot watch or listen to any news that is sad or bad. It never gets out of mind for days, weeks, months, and even years, when it pops up sometimes in my memory. I know that cannot be normal, but I am having a hard time of getting rid of those "bad tapes", I wish I could forget. I feel like I can sometimes feel other peoples feelings, and I may cry, even tho I don't even know that person. I also deal with ptsd, and that makes it harder. I appreciate all you post, and look forward to reading it. Our insurance does not cover a consoler, so I am on my own to try to find help.

        • Thanks for sharing. You seem to have a good understanding of what it is that bothers you. That's the first step.

          Have you tried journaling about specific things that bother you on a daily basis? This especially has helped me get rid of the bad "tapes" as it makes me remember that there's not a lot I can do about some things that happen. This realization often helps me in decided that I should rather just focus my energy on something positive instead.

          You can always email me directly at 😉

    • Thanks Anna, that's great to hear. If there is anything else that you would have liked to read about, I'd love to know!


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