When my oldest was a baby, he never slept. Like, EVER. Every night, I'd hold out hope that tonight would be different, that he'd finally sleep, and every night I'd get even more frustrated with him when he didn't. I felt like a CRAZY person. Then my sister, Julie, said these words to me:
"It's hard to be frustrated about something you already expected."
It is so simple, so true, and applies to way more than non-sleeping babies.
So many complications in our lives repeat themselves... the kids that constantly interrupt you when you're trying to make dinner, the teenager that has an emotional breakdown every night before bed, the coworker that never seems to finish the project on time, the husband who never loads the dishwasher The Right Way, the classmate who always "borrows" your last pen. And every time someone doesn't do what we wish they would, our frustration rises, even though we already knew it was coming. We keep putting water in the balloon even though it'll pop any second.
But what if we make one simple shift? What if we stop being surprised by the things that drive us nuts and instead graciously expect they'll happen?
Set aside a cooking task that you can hand to that kid who needs to talk to you right now, and cook while you talk. Allow a few extra minutes at bedtime for teenage tears. Give your coworker an earlier deadline than you actually need. Be glad that your husband doesn't micromanage you when you do something The Wrong Way. Pack an extra pen.
This isn't a plea to be Debbie Downer and think terrible things about your world. It's more about being MacGyver and preparing yourself for what usually frustrates you. Calmly expecting an annoying interaction somehow makes it less annoying, and consequently there's less built-up frustration as the day goes on. If a dog jumps on you, its claws will scratch your legs whether you expect it to jump or not. Knowing doesn't change what happens, but maybe next time you'll wear pants.