How Dropping Stupid Judgments Made Me a Happier Person

Thank you to the grumpy man who saved my bacon.

I have always considered myself to be a rather non-judgmental person. My philosophy tends to be “live and let live”. I’ve never believed that my thoughts, opinions, or way of doing things was especially better than anyone else’s thoughts, opinions, or way of doing things. Actually, I probably spent most of my childhood and young adulthood thinking other peoples’ viewpoints were much more valuable than my own.

So, here I’ve been…living my life thinking “I’m OHHH SOOO easy going and chill” when one day, upon leaving my local grocery store, I noticed I was feeling rather pissed off. Weird. I had no kids with me, I wasn’t in a rush…what was the dealio?

I realized in that moment that it was almost as if I’d heard a series of tiny internal “clicks” at certain points throughout my shopping experience. Each “click” seemed to represent my blood pressure rising a notch or two (somehow I don’t think BP is measured in “notches” but you catch my drift).

I very intentionally began to pay attention to these internal “clicks” that popped up over the coming days. A click at the 4-way stop near my house, a click as I entered the dentist’s office. Hmmmm. Clickety, click, click, click.

I soon realized that these little spikes in my blood pressure (okay, let’s get real, these were more like tiny flashes of RAGE), seemed to occur when someone did something I didn’t “approve of”. Here are some examples:

-Someone entered a building ahead of me and let the door close in my face rather than hold it open for an extra 5 seconds.

-The person ahead of me in the check-out at the grocery store didn’t put the divider on the conveyor so our groceries ended up all mashed together.

-The same person at the grocery store left their cart in the middle of the parking lot and their car idling for no good reason.

-When I stopped to let another car ahead of me in traffic, the driver didn’t give me the obligatory “thank you wave”.

-Someone didn’t come to a complete stop at the 4-way stop and proceeded to run it out of turn.

-I listened intently to someone’s story and then when it was my turn to tell mine, they turned away and started talking to someone else, clearly not interested in what I had to say.

-I got stuck behind a driver going 20 km under the speed limit and I couldn’t pass.

-My neighbour finally painted her ugly shed — all of it except the side that faces my backyard.

-My other neighbour sits on her front porch talking loudly on her cellphone when I’m trying to enjoy some quiet reading time on mine.

-the list could go on and on…

I began to realize that for someone so easy going, I sure spent a lot of time with my blood boiling and was actually, kinda stressed out. I would even go so far as to say I was actually being a bit…judgmental. Not that I would ever actually tell anyone else this. I guess it was my dirty little secret!

I began thinking of the wonderful Dolly Parton and her saying, “We cannot direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails.”

I knew I had to adjust my sails ASAP.

I realized I was going against all the self-help wisdom of the day! I was sweating the small stuff and giving away my f*cks will nilly! This would not do.

I also started thinking about the Buddhist quote “Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” I needed to stop drinking the poison!!

I made a decision right then and there to try my best to stop taking life so darn seriously. Sure, I’m still bothered by little things others do but I try really hard to exercise compassion and flip the situation on its head. It helps me to think of this thing that happened to me once:

There used to be a man who lived at the end of my street. I don’t really know his story but I know he was not well-liked in the neighbourhood. He yelled at kids to stay off of his lawn, he always shut off his lights on Hallowe’en night so nobody would bug him for candy and he was just generally, super unfriendly. Let’s put it this way…if a kid ever accidentally landed a ball over his fence, they would get a new ball.

So, one day, I was at home recovering from having my second child. I was home alone with my newborn, my two-year old and our two dogs.

As one does, I let my dogs outside in the back yard to have a run around, go pee etc. When I went back a short time afterwards to let them back in, I noticed they were nowhere to be found. Strange. I soon realized with panic that somehow the gate had been left open and both dogs had taken off towards a new-found freedom they had never before enjoyed.

What is a new mom to do? In my frantic, hormonal state, I grabbed both kids, two leashes and ran down the street in my bare feet, bathrobe and bedhead yelling my dogs’ names like a mad woman. I swear I thought I could feel my fresh childbirth stitches popping out of me (by the way, you do not want to ever feel this).

It was the middle of a weekday so there were not many people outside but I vaguely recall blowing past a few very startled-looking neighbours, who I’m not even sure recognized me in my state.

By the time I made it to the end of my street, (no sign of my dogs), I was sweating, crying and huffing and puffing. Both kids were also crying in my arms. I was certain I would never see my 2 dogs alive again.

At that point, I noticed 2 small specks in the distance — one white and one black. I also noticed what appeared to be a person, mid-air in what seemed to be a sort of “dive-bomb” maneuver, land with what was probably a pretty painful “thud” onto the wet ground. He then, got up, slipped a bit but regained his balance and somehow managed to scoop up two little dogs in his arms — one fluffy and black, the other — fluffy and white.

The grumpy old man had saved my bacon. I guess you could say my two little bacons.

So, if I thought the grumpy old man was grumpy on a regular day, man was he a sight to behold when I caught up with him! He had leaves in his hair, large, wet, grass stains on his knees and two little fluffy dogs frantically licking his face. He didn’t say a word. He didn’t seem to appreciate my relieved “thank you” nor did he seem to notice my state or my that of my kids. He held the dogs while I snapped on their leashes, turned on his heal and took off like a bat out of hell. He didn’t utter a single word.

I guess my point is everybody has different sides to them. Just because they don’t always act the way I expect or want them to, doesn’t mean well, really anything. Even the person who slammed the door in my face, the guy who didn’t wave thank you or all the others who didn’t do the silly, small things I expected. Who cares?

Just maybe they are saving up all of their small things to be able to do something big. Something big and something that REALLY matters. True or not. Thinking this is enough to help me take life just a little bit less seriously when I start hearing those clicks.