Jan Risher, Long Story Short, July 30, 2016
Between now and November, our mettle will be tested.
So many of us have strong opinions on how the upcoming presidential election should go — and feel the frequent need to share those opinions.
Surely, the months ahead have the potential to be rough going.
But maybe they don’t have to be so difficult. Maybe there are techniques to lose our cool less and maintain cheerful interaction more. Perhaps, the first step in living a more peaceful life is to be kind.
Then, accept the fact that everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion — and realizing you’re probably not going to change anyone’s by spouting off in disagreement or outrage over something someone on the other side of the political fence said.
Next, recognize that if you rarely converse with people who have or express different political opinions than you, you probably assume more people share your political beliefs than is the case in reality.
Be mindful of what you say. Choose your words carefully. The Rotarians have the best guiding principle. They say, “of the things we think, say or do: is it the truth? Is it fair to all concerned? Will it build good will and better friendships? Will it be beneficial to all concerned?”
But how does one respond when someone succeeds at jerking his or her chain? The simplest answer is: choose not to be offended.
Being offended presents itself in a variety of ways.
Some people get their feelings hurt and pout. Others get mad and lash out. Some become gloomy or grumpy and spread bad cheer. All the way around, being offended destroys peace of mind, not only for the offended but also for others whose lives are touched.
Breathe in. Breathe out.
If you find yourself offended over politics (or anything for that matter) often, then do your best to save yourself the trouble.
What if you could lessen the time you feel boudé by half or even more than that? Who wants to go around feeling like Eeyore when Christopher Robins’ woods are rather beautiful?
Granted, we all get offended — and sometimes there’s just cause —but often there’s less cause than we may convince ourselves.
I’ve seen people offended by the actions of others when clearly the intent was never to disrupt harmony. One person read something in a way it wasn’t intended, or the other person may have been truly inconsiderate or even selfish.
However, the bottom line was (as it so often is) that the offending act wasn’t about the person whose feelings ended up in jeopardy.
Such situations often boil down to, “it’s just not about you.”
Maybe the other person really is a pompous chump. The trick is not to let the ninny get you down. Choose not to be offended because most of the time, it is so not about you.
Who knows why the nitwit behaves as the nitwit does? Ponder the mystery only if you must.
The other option is to chalk it up to his or her issue. Maybe it was childhood. Maybe it’s a chemical imbalance. Maybe he had a bad reaction to medication. Maybe her puppy died this morning. Maybe it was a knock on the head in fourth grade.
Rarely will we ever know what “it” was, but we know that most of the time “it’s” not you.
Choose not to be offended and move on with your life.
Two weeks ago, my column was about the importance of having conversations, which I still heartily endorse.
However, I also must share the following to give peace its maximum chance because there are two sides to every tango.
If you’ve made the yeoman’s effort and being around a certain person consistently troubles you — and you can’t find redeeming qualities to out way the bother — take a break. Stop being around that person. You don’t have to write him or her off completely. You can revisit later when you’re in a different space.
In the meantime, you don’t need anyone else’s permission to take a different path.
Yes, there are dolts out there who truly seek to push your buttons. You can still be a part of the peace process. The Rotarians’ four-way test helps, but for it to work, we have to remember to ask the questions and tell ourselves the truth.
When necessary, we can remember life is indeed too short to be spent with nincompoops.
Jan Risher writes a weekly column for The Daily Advertiser. You can reach her at email@example.com