Reduce Stress by Getting Rid of Your Pet Peeves

The Value of Pet Ownership

Why so many?

Well, pets can provide numerous mental and physical health benefits. Pets provide companionship, encourage exercise, and ward off loneliness, all benefits that can lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Personally, we’ve owned pets most of our lives simply because of the joy they bring. Isn’t having a pet a great thing?

Yes! Although …

The Unfriendly Pet Everyone Has More Than One Of

Imagine taking your pet black widow out to play, snuggling up on the couch with your pet porcupine, or wrestling on the floor with your pet badger.

Ouch! You’re soon to be on the receiving end of a painful experience.

In all our years of owning pets, and knowing others who do, we’ve never heard of anyone keeping black widow spiders, porcupines, or the like as the cuddly, snuggly, soft and furry pets we know and love. (Other than the Addams Family.)

Yet most people own one kind of pet that offers none of your basic cuddly, snuggly pet benefits. These pets in fact pose risks to your emotional well-being and often to your relationships as well.

What kind of dangerous pets are these?

Pet peeves.

Pet peeve ownership is pervasive. People do seem to love their pet peeves. It looks like everyone has adopted at least one pet peeve, and some have dozens.

There are plenty of peeve breeds to choose from. There are government peeves, drivers-using-cell-phones peeves, rude-drivers-in-bad-traffic peeves, people-in-line peeves. Some people even flock together to form clubs and political groups with others who own the same breed of peeve.

What breeds of peeves have you adopted?

The High Cost of Owning Your Pet Peeves

We were talking about people’s pet peeves over a cup of Fair Trade coffee recently. (Fair Trade products allow us to bond while playing with our greedy-multinational-corporation peeves.)

Guess what we realized?

The more you pet a peeve, the more frustrated, upset and angry you get.

Doesn’t it seem painful? Like petting a porcupine. Why would people do this to themselves?

Lily Tomlin says man invented language to satisfy his deep need to complain. Here’s the best description we’ve heard of a pet peeve: an opportunity to complain that is seldom missed.

Well, everyone complains, so what’s the trouble with letting a pet peeve run free for a bit?

Two things.

Complaining is like sweeping feathers. It may seem like you’re doing something, but you’re not really making a difference. You’re just agitating your environment.

And, what you focus your attention on grows.

Focusing on what you don’t like will cause you to notice it more often in your life. Imagine your future when what you don’t like is pretty much all you notice. Sounds like a sure-fire prescription for unhappiness, doesn’t it?

Say you’ve adopted a drivers-using-cell-phones peeve. It drives you nuts when drivers talk on their cell phones! It prompts you to drag out your pet peeve and start playing with it. If you’ve got a captive-audience passenger, all the better. Maybe you can let your peeves play together.

And what you focus your attention on will grow. After you play with your drivers-using-cell-phones peeve for a while, then you drag out some of your other inconsiderate-people peeves and play with those for a while.

Now ask yourself, is this a joyful experience for you?

Does petting these peeves leave you feeling lighter, more joyful, and more at peace with the world? Do you suppose it lowers your blood pressure or cholesterol level?

Or, do you think your peeve is going to make any difference to that driver using his cell phone in the other car?

Definitely not.

Setting Your Pet Peeves Free

“Realize that if you have time to whine and complain about something, then you have the time to do something about it.”
~ Anthony D’Angelo

A while ago, we started setting our pet peeves free. One by one, we let them go off to enjoy the wild, feral life that is in their nature.

We don’t do this so the peeves will be happier. Happiness isn’t in the nature of a peeve.

We do it so we’ll be happier.

Because happiness is in our nature. And we’re committed to experiencing more and more of our true nature.

So, would you like to start setting your pet peeves free too? It’s actually easier than you think.

Here’s the fastest, easiest way to set your pet peeves free: Develop your ability to focus your attention on what you enjoy.

Does this sound too simple?

Then ask yourself: “What would my day be like if, moment by moment, I was able to turn my attention to what I enjoy in my present circumstances?”

Remember, what you focus your attention on grows.

Start turning your focus away from the pet peeves clamoring for your attention, and focus instead on what you enjoy in that moment.

Pretend that you have an emotional bank account. Every thought makes an emotional deposit.

So if your peevish thoughts are constantly depositing frustrated, upset and angry thoughts in your emotional bank account, they will grow and grow. They’ll even start multiplying through the law of compound interest.

“Stupid drivers using cell-phones!” compounds with these thoughts: “They obviously don’t care about anyone else’s safety.” And, “Those are some of the most inconsiderate people I’ve ever seen.”

Try petting one of your favorite peeves right now and then see how you feel. Happy?

Now imagine that any time you notice a personal pet peeve, it’s possible to turn your attention to something that you enjoy or are thankful for.

You notice a driver using a cell phone. Have cell phones made your life any easier? Can people be reached more easily in emergencies? Can people call for help no matter where they are? Are people able to spend more time connecting with their friends and family?

Now, will thinking these enjoyable, grateful thoughts make any difference in another driver’s behavior? No, these thoughts are every bit as ineffective in making a difference in the situation as the thoughts your pet peeve enjoys.

But these thoughts also make deposits in your emotional bank account day after day. Imagine if you learned to compound these thoughts with thoughts that clarify what’s important to you and how to take actions that are satisfying.

Now how do you feel? Would these thoughts be more likely to lower your blood pressure?

Happy or sad, good or bad, pleasure or pain—it’s up to you. Focus on what you enjoy. Enjoy being thankful. It’s something anyone can do.

What you focus your attention on will grow in your emotional bank account. So start saving your happiness today. With a bank-full of thankful, you’ll easily set your pet peeves free.