In the end, our time is so short. Don’t waste your time judging others. It’s not worth wasting your wit on anger. Just focus on what you can do, yourself.

– Lessons from My Father

I used to take pride in the wittiness of my comebacks. I would take offense at those who disagree with my point of view. But it’s not just the big things and big disagreements that would set me off. It’s usually the little things that would drive me crazy. Bad drivers, especially in the roundabout, piles of dishes in the sink, and dealing with rude people are just a few of the things that “get to me”. I also get annoyed with long lines, rising prices, market “ups” and “downs”, the news, the seemingly unfair practices of big businesses, and politicians of all shapes and sizes. The list that can set me off is pretty long. It’s easy to get all riled up.

If You Are Looking For It, People Will Disappoint You

It seems like everywhere I went, someone was deliberately trying to ruin my day. The lack of excellent character dashed my hopes in others. Friends, family, bosses, employees, favorite celebrities and heroes, all of them have let me down. Sometimes a scandal in the news. Sometimes it was words that were spoken. Sometimes comments that jab. Sometimes they were unintentional, or maybe just made in ignorance? I would try to give them the benefit of the doubt, but they still hurt. 

For Power and Politics

No one was immune from my disappointment. Sometimes it would be people in leadership. For example, I remember starting a job thinking the leadership team was made up of excellent individuals. How else could they have attained such status? They had to have it together, right? But yet again, I was severely disappointed. I was looking for someone to give my respect to, and I found individuals in whom I could have no respect for. Decisions that were passed down from layer upon layer of craziness. Disconnected from what was really needed, and not listening to their people who really cared about making things better. Policies that wouldn’t make any sense, the goals, the metrics, the rules. They had no clue what they were doing. And on top of that, the unfair treatment of my coworkers, the blatant disregard for decency.

It never ceases to amaze me how people with dumb ideas attain power, whether in politics or in business. There seems to be no shortage of them out there, and no shortage of their supporters. I can’t watch the news anymore, I can’t stomach it. Everything bothers me. And once I became annoyed, it is disturbing how long it affects me. It would just ruin my day. 

Suppose they are dumb, or ignorant, or just plain foolish? What difference will your judgement make?

Judging Others

I don’t exactly know when my change in perspective started. Somewhere along the way I asked myself, “why is it your job to condemn others? Whether they know what they are doing or not, why invest the little time you have on judging their deeds?” I had a hard time answering my own question. Sure sometimes, maybe there would be a good reason? Maybe they are causing others harm, and that’s my justification. And if there were justification, that’d probably be good enough, “for the good of someone else.” But other than that, why judge someone else’s intentions? “Who gives you the moral high ground to do so?” 

But even more significant is that this all takes time. It takes my time and energy to be judgmental. It takes time to be angry, to make witty comments. 

Time is Short

I learned a lot of lessons from my dad, but maybe the biggest lesson was in the last few weeks of his 91 years of life. He boiled it down to this twofer; how much time do I have left? And what’s the point? Don’t waste it.

Don’t Waste it on Anger

So if today was my last day, how long do I want to spend being angry with this person over this issue?  Shouldn’t I spend my time, wit, energy on something else?

Do I want to end this relationship over this? Do I want to be that close-minded? Do I care? Or don’t I care? And what do I want to be known for? Someone who is harsh and brash, known for my sharp witted jabs and insults? Or do I want to be known as a kind and caring friend, father, husband? 

Being Slow to Anger 

Wow, if I could only do that? Not that I wouldn’t ever get angry, but what if I could just cut down how often I let things make me angry?

What are the things I can control? I can’t control the driver in front of me, but I can control how I react. I can be patient when someone makes a mistake. I can be kind when in line. I don’t have to let things get to me.  I can say thank you. I can ask someone how their day is going.  

Waste your effort on what you can do. Invest your wit, your logic, your intelligence on things other than being angry. Choose.

Don’t Judge Your Friends 

I take great pride in the diversity of my friends. In the wide assortment of characters, of lifestyles. Of saints and sinners alike, from all walks of life. Of different political persuasions, different cultures and different beliefs. We are at odds more than we are together, but we don’t argue. I don’t force the issue. I may believe what I believe is better, but I am not going to belittle them for their beliefs. It doesn’t make what I believe less than true to me. Sure, I enjoy when someone shares my point of view, but I enjoy other perspective too. I appreciate my friends and care for them. I love my friends for who they are, not for who I want them to be. 

I have for years tried to align my conversation with others who are from the opposite perspective as myself; if only to be able to articulate what they believe, and learn from the ability to argue their point of view. Maybe this is a remnant of my school debate days? It’s fun for me to say what others say, and see if I can understand their perspective. It’s harder than you would think to do it sincerely. I have learned a lot from their opposing perspective. And questioning my beliefs has forced me to develop the skills to articulate my own beliefs, all the better. It hasn’t made me weaker, it’s actually strengthened my beliefs. 

Family

Family. I am amazed at how many friends I have, who are just amazing people, who don’t have good relationships with their families. I don’t get it. Yeah, I guess it’s a two way street. Your family members need to participate in the deal too, so there’s that. It’s just sad. Again, I’m talking mostly about the family that we don’t choose. It’s a gift to have them. Maybe for you it’s a curse. Or maybe it depends on how we choose to use our wit, yet again? Being angry? Being hurt? Judging them for their actions? Are they doing something that disappoints you? I get that. People disappoint. Family is no exception. But is it really worth ending the relationship over? Maybe they are judging you? Holding a grudge? They have something they are holding against you? I’m sorry. That has to hurt.

In the end, our time is so short. Don’t waste your time judging others. It’s not worth wasting your wit on anger. Just focus on what you can do, yourself.

I Can’t Make Your Choices

I can’t make choices for you, but for me, I am a lot happier since I learned this lesson. It’s not worth it, and this moment is all we have.

Time is something that we waste a lot of, isn’t it? When I choose to do something for a moment in time, it’s gone. I can’t get it back. So when I choose to be angry, that’s what I spent my life on in that moment in time. It’s gone. And I didn’t have to make that choice.

One last thing. To quote Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, “Be Excellent to One Another.” And don’t waste your wit on anger. Just focus on what you can do, yourself.

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