“My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance; and let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:2-4
According to my sources, the week of October 10-16 is National Pet Peeve Week. Full disclosure, the same source says today was “Take Your Parents to Work Day,” and I neither treated my parents nor received lunch from my offspring. Perhaps it’s not the most reliable of sources . . . .
In any case, no one really needs a week set aside to focus on pet peeves. If we did, they wouldn’t really be pets–they’d just be peeve acquaintances, pet adjacent if you will. The very nature of a pet peeve is that we remember it, nurture it.
Most of us have them. It’s that thing that annoys you every single time.
- People who leave their turn signals on or those who don’t signal at all.
- Misuse of the word “literally,” or any use at all of the nonsensical “irregardless.”
- Dirty dishes left in the sink.
- Long lines.
- Cabinets left open.
- Road construction.
- Trash placed beside, but not in, the garbage bin.
Ya know. Stuff.
And the thing is, we typically talk about our pet peeves long after the annoyance has passed. We promote the peeve to others and try to get them to agree it’s just the WORST. After all, why have a pet if you are not going to be able to enjoy it?
Yet each of these irritants can be tied to a blessing in some way.
- You are either driving or being driven or you would not be aware of the presence or absence of turn signals. Many people would love to drive or to have a friend willing to give them a ride when necessary. Same with road construction. You wouldn’t be annoyed by road delays if you had to walk/bike/bus everywhere.
- You have a sink, a cabinet, a garbage bin–all signs of safe shelter. Or maybe an office. Good things to have, shelter and office space. Especially when they come with modern conveniences.
- Tardiness and long lines are irritating. But could we reframe this as time we had not planned to have? So now you are free to browse through the magazines, check your emails, or read a book perhaps. Then, rather than fueling a pet peeve, you are experiencing a moment of calm and a feeling of gratitude.
- Misuse of words bug you? Well stop that. None of us are going to change someone else’s language patterns so let’s just let people be. Plus, each of us likely has some kind of verbal tick or linguistic habit that is every bit as irritating to others. (Like, um, totally.)
I’m all for pets–the finned, furry, or feathered variety. But keeping peeves for pets just drains our energy by turning our focus from what is good in the world to what is annoying. And if we are completely honest, rehearsing and reviewing our annoyances is a kind of privilege that many can’t access. Those folks are too busy looking for safe transportation, clean drinking water, or affordable health care.
So the next time we are tempted to focus on life’s irritations, let’s agree to count them all joy. According to James (above), that mindset will help us all to be better humans who are infinitely more content.