#78- Don’t Be Petty

Look- I think I’ve done a damn good job of keeping away from negatives here, meaning I like to write about what you should aspire to be, and not what you should not want to be.  I think that could lead down a dangerous road of using people or situations from my life or from the news or pop culture, and holding them up as bad examples.  The reason I say that’s dangerous is that I really feel like you should #3333- Avoid Forcing People into the Tanya Harding Life Experience.  Obviously, the reason I mention that I try to avoid doing this is because I’m going to do this right now.

Don’t be petty.  ‘I told you so’ is the lamest expression ever uttered.  When authors write one of their characters saying, ‘I told you so’, it should always be followed by, ‘he said, lamely.’  Or at least the lameness of it should be implied.  You know why?  Because the I told you soperson you just told knows that you told them so.  There are no more victory points to be had, and you saying ‘I told you so’ just makes you less victorious, less magnanimous.

It is true that I could have written, ‘Be Magnanimous’, and indeed, it is a step in this process, but a late one- #9258.  But the fact is, you don’t necessarily have to be magnanimous as much as you have to avoid being petty.  Magnanimity is as great a quality in humans as it is a word to write and say.  You have to acquire the skill of not rubbing people’s noses in it before you can really embody the the spirit of magnanimity.  Just because you don’t open your fat mouth doesn’t mean that you aren’t embodying the physical presence of ‘I told you so’ and it doesn’t mean that the person right next to you doesn’t want to wipe that shitty ‘I told you so’ look off your scum-sucking face with their fists.  You have to learn to not care that you were right, especially because it rarely matters.  That’s great that you knew that this route would mean more traffic- you’re both still sitting in it.  Let it go.  Especially because if you’re an ass about it, it will lessen the bond you share with the person you’re with in some way.  It might be the straw that breaks the camel’s back, or it might just mean that that person stops feeling like they can trust to come to you with problems or questions and not coming away feeling shittier about themselves for it.  Think about that next time someone asks you a question and you tell them to Google it.  People reach out to other people in their lives with uncertainties because they trust that person, and respect that opinion in the field of their query.  To spurn them, to insult them in such a way is a very easy way to weaken that connection to them, to make that person feel worse about themselves instead of better.  And you should be making people feel better about themselves- #1771.

Think for a second.  Think about people in your life that you no longer go to with problems or questions or if you’re in need of advice because of the reaction you got the last time you did.  Because their answer made you feel dumb or inferior or question why you talk to that Killian'sperson or ask them for help.  On the night of my 21st birthday, Jimmy Stip bought me a beer, a Budweiser.  I was, at the time, just recently introduced to Killian’s Irish Red and that was what I had in my hand at the time, and so I turned down the Bud.  I know that’s a small thing, but I think about it a lot.  He was lifeguarding that summer to make money before his last semester of college and he used some of that money to buy me a beer on my birthday and I turned it down because I was drinking the oh-so-much-loftier Killian’s.  How small of me.  How Budweisershort-sighted.  I should have been better than that.  If I was Jimmy Stip I never would have bought me another beer.  That might seem a petty reaction, but sometimes enough is enough and it’s okay to stop trying.

Anyway, the reason this came to mind is that, as a service-industry professional, I occasionally read books written by service-industry professionals and/or about the service industry, and I came across this book called, Adapt or Wait Tables: A Freelancer’s Guide.  As someone in the service industry with occasion to wait tables who is looking to do some freelancing, it sounded right up my alley.  The word ‘guide’ implies Adapt or Wait Tablesthat the book would contain some, you know, guidance, which was not the case.  Instead it was a short history of one person’s vaguely defined success story.  The thing that stood out to me, however (and I read this book at least two years ago) was how often the author took time to drudge up some moment from her past where someone’s opinion differed from hers so that she could proudly announce her rightness.  And it was years later that things worked out for her and she still felt the need to rub her ex-boyfriend or some teacher’s nose in her incredible success and validated opinions.  The whole book was an ‘I told you so’ of epic proportions and it made me sad to read.  At some point those people on some level cared for her and about her future and she could only see their thoughts and input as ideas she had to hold fiercely on to until she not only proved them wrong, but had to write a book to get her final, tiny, petty victory.  You’re already a success!  What more need is there?  It’s not hard to think those people were happy for her in some way and they go out and buy her book and it’s basically a tit-for-tat of when she was write in conversations lost to the other person’s memory.  Did you really need to make those people from your past feel more of a fool?  To give them any reason not to be proud of and happy for your success?

Look, someone always said it better than me, so I’ll leave you with this quote falsely attributed to The Buddha:

‘In the end, only three things matter:
how much you loved,
how gently you lived,
and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you.’

Either that, or listen to Elsa:

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