Losing our ability to tolerate ordinary misery

If you’re the kind of person who consistently complains about your expensive, mediocre, unsatisfying lunch sandwiches, that you physically went out and purchased with your own money, then you don’t get even a wink of sympathy from me.

People who complain about situations that they create, decisions that they make, are in desperate need of some upside down ankle shaking.

My patience has officially run out.

Carlin used to joke that he didn’t have pet peeves, he had major psychotic hatreds, and this one is up there for me.

It’s not even about complaining, either. That’s the symptom, not the problem.

The deeper issue is that we have crafted a society where people have little or no tolerance for errors, delays, or generally anything that goes wrong in life.

Fifty years ago, we demanded things to be good, fast and cheap; today we demand them to be perfect, now and free.

People have insane expectations around the products and services they purchase, as if they will actually work without problems, every time.

But that’s not how things work around these parts. Shit breaks. The world disappoints us. Imperfection is practically our national pastime.

And unless we train ourselves to be harmonious with all that life sends our way, our cortisol levels are going to shoot through the roof and our rising blood pressure is going to send us into cardiac arrest.

How could this have happened to me?

Simply. Accidents happen. Bad things happen. These are the normal downs of human existence, and you are not special.

Pinsky, my favorite addiction medicine specialist, has been preaching this message for years. He notes that we’ve become aversive to ordinary misery. And in fact, we should be celebrating it.

That’s where resilience comes from. Learning from something uncomfortable, finding a solution and moving through it. And learning to tolerate and process that frustration with other people.

Not by engaging in another round of competitive suffering, but figuring out how to put ourselves in unison with the imperfection of the world.

If the food at your favorite sandwich spot is too expensive and not satisfying enough, then either learn to cook, ask for a raise, get a new job, take a seminar on patience, or try intermittent fasting.

But for the love of all that is holy and sacred, stop complaining. It’s ruining my lunch. 

Can you tolerate unfamiliar feelings and then ride them through to the other side?


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Author. Speaker. Strategist. Songwriter. Filmmaker. Inventor. Gameshow Host. World Record Holder. I also wear a nametag 24-7. Even to bed.
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