When you are in a relationship with someone, especially a close one, there are going to be things that they do that drive you nuts. Whether it is a spouse, sibling, parent, friend, etc. There are just going to be those things that are different from how you would do them or diametrically opposed to who you are.
This is OK. It’s natural. People are different.
We can’t really ignore these things. It’s not like we can just shut off our feelings. It’s very, very, hard to turn off the way we feel.
If we just simply accept these things, that might be OK — for a while. Every time your partner does that thing you can just shrug it off. Pretend it does not bother you. Let it go — until the next time. And then the next. And all of this shrugging takes a fair amount of energy. Eventually, you will tire. It will wear you down. Then the resentment will creep in. Then, those tiny little annoyances will either become much larger annoyances or add up cumulatively be the thing that breaks your relationship in two.
I’m here to offer another path. One that I have taken.
Find a way to appreciate these things. Find the something in them that leads to why you love this person. The motivation behind the thing that drives you nutty might be the thing that makes that person a really good friend or great at their job. Find that, see it for what it is, and above all learn to appreciate it. Instead of a path to resentment, this then will become the path to deeper respect, understanding, and love.
If you follow me on the social networks, by now you have heard me talk about DailyMuse. It was born out of an idea I floated on App.net for a web app that would send me daily, random, emails from a group of items I put into it. My friend Matthew Lang took up the challenge and built it. I like it a lot. But, let me tell you why I wanted it in the first place and how I put it to use.
A couple of years ago, I purchased a book and assessment test called StrenthsFinder 2.0 published by Gallup. Yes, the same Gallup that is known for polling data. The assessment is a series of questions designed to help you discover your core strengths. At the end of the assessment, a list and explanation of those strengths is given and they provide a personalized action plan to help you uncover and tap into those talents.
I had the thought that this series of actions would be better digested and reflected upon if I got one sent randomly via email to me daily. Almost like a daily devotional. But, I could not find a tool to do so. Now, thanks to Daily Muse, there is.
Once I started using it ( I was on the beta team) I thought it might be fun to also add Brian Eno’s Oblique Strategies into the daily mix. So, I copied and pasted many of those in too.
Those are the two things I’m using it for so far but I can think of many others — daily exercise ideas, healthy snacks and recipes, writing prompts, study of scripture or philosophy, etc. Basically, anything that would be good to have a daily reminder for would be a good fit for this.
DailyMuse is free to try for 30 days and, if you like it, the price is a very fair $2 per month or $20 per year beyond that. Check it out.
"Pay attention to detail!"
I was in the Navy for a period of my young adult life. It was not as long as I had hoped. A medical issue just a few weeks into boot camp led to an early general discharge. But, boot camp is designed so that lessons that take years in the civilian world are packed into every single day there. I learned so much then that remains with me and makes me a better human today.
One of the ideas that pops up in almost every lesson in military training is that extreme attention to detail matters. That in every situation, focused and unbroken awareness matters. That, in the worst cases, it is the difference between life and death. And so this level of attention to detail is stressed at every turn.
On the way to RTC San Diego, several of the new recruits I was traveling with and I ran into a couple of young soldiers at our layover in Denver. Nervously asking them about what Boot Camp would be like — how hard it would be or any tricks to make it easier — they responded "Just pay attention to detail. If you don’t you will be in a world of hurt." As soon as we arrived on base, and the yelling began, "Pay attention to detail!" was a refrain so constant it could have been a rock anthem chorus being blasted in our ears. And, in those coming days, when punishment would come, it would usually come only when the details were ignored or missed. And as our hands bled and burned from the few dozen push-ups on freshly gravelled blacktop amidst the Southern California heat our ignorance had brought upon us, the number of repetitions due was increased if each and every man failed to execute the punishment with attention to detail and precision.
Because, when it is the hardest to maintain focus — a fire fight, when you are scared and lost, when death is almost certain — is when it is most important to pay attention to every detail and execute extreme awareness in the situation. The safe path away from the battle, the weakness in the enemy defense, the ally you could signal for help, if it’s there at all it is there in the details.
The lesson that remains with me is that this is true of any situation in everyday life. That if an answer exists at all, if not obvious, it is only found by paying attention to the details. If you get into a bind, that will show you the way out. In tough spots, the answer is being mindful and aware of all of the available options. By having situational awareness in every direction you will find the your way out of the darkest certainties.