“Be proactive not reactive, for an apparently insignificant issue ignored today can spawn tomorrow’s catastrophe.” ~Ken Poirot 

Do you ever have one of those mornings where the battle against annoying minutiae begins before you’re even truly awake?

One of those days where you feel the illusion of control fully slipping away. You try to grasp and pull it back, but you really have no control over this day or its outcome, at all.

We dread these types of days, don’t we? The control freak in me gets uncomfortable thinking about it. Even the Meet The Parents movies make me unsettled, because as more and more things go wrong, I just want to cry out, “Stop it already! Stop making bad choices!”

I can’t guarantee that I can help you to stop making bad choices, but I can give you tips for handling those days when everything minor breaks, stalls, or gets in your way.

I had a day like this when I was pregnant with my youngest. I never regained my energy back like they say you will in the second trimester. I was tired, achy, and feeling uncomfortably large one morning last spring. Still, being pregnant, with all its discomforts, was the highlight of my day.

It started with an alarm that didn’t go off—well, we didn’t set alarms anymore. My daughter always wakes early, so no need. That day, she took the morning off. No wakeup call from the toddler.

We woke up running late in a panic. Then, as our cats had been doing lately, just for fun, they threw up their breakfast on the kitchen floor.

I looked at the stream of cat vomit and told my husband, “Your turn, I cleaned it up last time.”

He gaped at the floor, and then looked as if he was considering adding his own vomit to the pile. “No. Can’t do it.”

“UHHH!!” I fumed, and thus began a morning squabble, the bane of my existence. I hate fighting in the morning more than cleaning up cat vomit, but I was rattled from waking up quickly, so I just went for it and dove headfirst into a fight.

Fight over, we went our separate ways—he went to work and I stayed at home with our kid.

Later, my first new phone in four years showed up in the mail. Now, if you have ever tried to set up anything with a toddler in tow, you know it’s like trying to build Ikea furniture in a tornado. But I was excited and needed to reset the vibe of the day, so I called to set it up.

A new phone shouldn’t have problems from the start, right? Seems reasonable, but I had to keep explaining to the representative that I was setting up a new phone.

We lost phone connection three times. My toddler needed helping five times. Suddenly both my old phone (that I was talking to the rep on) and my new one wouldn’t work. Confused, I was interrupted by a loud hissing.

I was making split pea soup in the cooker, which I had forgotten. The neglected pot was spewing hot soup goo all over. Meanwhile my sink, countertop, and the stove were full of dishes.

Old-fashioned pressure cookers are unpopular because if you move them quickly, you get burning steam shooting out at you. Most people don’t use old-fashioned pressure cookers because of this—smart people.

There was nowhere to move the pot.

So I had to move the pressure cooker pot in slow motion. I watched in horror as more and more hot goo spilled over the stove, counter, and flowed like a green boiling waterfall onto the floor.

I huffed with frustration and started cleaning up—phone temporarily a backseat issue—while trying to keep my kid away from the literal hot mess.

But I was also proud of myself. I hadn’t taken my frustrations out on anyone. I had carried myself with calm, even though I was boiling over, like the soup pot.

Smiling, I went to place the cleanup towels in the hamper. There, one entire corner of the floor was covered with broken picture frames and glass. I was shocked. And now broken glass? I hadn’t heard anything fall?? What?!

Suddenly, it was all too much. I felt anger and frustration rising inside of me. I had enough! I walked into the room away from my daughter and dad, and gave a little scream—not loud enough to scary anyone, but it was enough to release my steam valve.

I’m guessing you’ve had a day like this before. When one irritating thing after another happened, building major annoyance and frustration, making it hard to keep your cool.

How can we stop getting riled up by everything that goes wrong in a day?

Most of us in the Western world have become very busy and, by default, very reactive. This does not set us up well to handle unexpected annoyances. But there are a few things we can do to prepare for these days in advance, and a number of ways we can cope better so we don’t get epically annoyed with all the irritations happening around us.

Read more on the next page…