When "five things that bug you" came up as the topic for this month's By Invitation Only post, my first instinct was to poll my girlfriends to see what they'd say on the subject - of course, we all had pests a plenty in our lives. But the more I thought about it, the less I wanted to focus on what bugs, and the more I wanted to explore how keep those creepy crawlies from ruining our proverbial picnic. Because, unfortunately, toilet seats will be left up, the driver in front of us will fail to signal, foods we love will be full of fat and calories, and moths will make meals out of our favorite cashmere sweaters. Right? The bugs probably aren't going anywhere. So here's five ideas for how to keep the pests in our lives from driving us nuts, and how to make sure we don't become the fly in someone else's ointment...
1) PRACTICE KINDNESS: I mentioned recently the amazing bucket of lilacs my landscaper so thoughtfully left on my porch. I had just spent 90 minutes stuck in stop-and-go traffic and was simmering with road rage when I got home. The sight and scent of those lilacs defused all that in an instant. Suddenly getting dinner on the table seemed less of a chore. The junk mail and bills in the mail box weren't so annoying. Doing something kind for someone else is one of the best ways to drown out the irritating buzz of life's little mosquitoes - the person on the receiving end of the kindness feels so happy, they are less likely to notice things that might otherwise bug them. And, when you do something nice for someone else, you get the high that comes with knowing you made their day - it's kind of a natural bug spray. Those lose little irritants just can't get near you.
2) PUT DOWN THE PHONE: We know texting while driving can be deadly. It's often considered rude when you check your email during a meeting. But another problem with our constant need to keep an eye on our phones is that it robs us of our mindfulness. And the less connected we are to what's going on around us, the more likely we are to lose track of how our actions impact others. Not to mention, feeling out of touch with what's happening in real time in our own daily life can throw us off balance and make us cranky. Of course sometimes family emergencies or work issues need to be dealt with in the moment. But maybe we'd all be happier if we resisted the temptation to check our Insta feed on date night (sorry Mr. H.) or waited until after lunch with a girlfriend to respond to that text about our plans for the evening.
3) SAY THANKS: While I am a big believer in a handwritten thank you note, just taking the time to say thanks in any way, shape or form goes a long way to making us less susceptible to minor irritants and bites. Practicing gratitude helps us be more aware of how rich and wonderful our lives are. Suddenly the gnats and noseeums - the neighbor who won't clean up after their dog, the rude waiter, etc. - aren't quite so bothersome anymore.
4) BEE QUIET: The only thing that bothers me more than being needlessly snapped at by my husband is when I do the same to him - taking the stress of every day life out on an innocent bystander feels terrible. I don't know about your brain, but mine is constantly buzzing with random thoughts, resentments, worries, shopping lists, useless trivia, etc. If I don't take a little time each day to do something that creates peace and quiet in my mind, that stress gets the better of me, and I'm more likely to sting someone. For me, an intense workout or getting lost in a good book is the perfect head clearing. For others it might be getting outside, binge watching Scandal or hiding in the closet with a box of Girl Scout cookies. Whatever it is, take that time out, even if it is just five minutes.
5) THERE'S NO COMPARISON: Everybody's different, so why do we keep insisting on comparing ourselves to others? Nothing ruins a good day faster than judging our own accomplishments, thigh gap or vacation plans against someone else's. And maybe we shouldn't expect others to have the same beliefs, standards and lifestyles as our own. Cutting ourselves and everyone else a bit of slack and not rushing to judgement makes life a heck of a lot more pleasant.
So tell me, what "mosquito nets" do you deploy to keep your own bugs at bay?
Happy Wednesday, everyone. Hope your day is pest free. And please check out what the rest of the By Invitation Only crew has to say on the entomology subject. You can find them all at Splenderosa.