Expecting poor behavior

I recently discovered a neat trick to lower my stress level and frustration throughout the day. Each morning, I tell myself that I’m going to run into up to 10 inappropriate behaviors during the day.

For example, a car may cut into your lane on the highway, a business partner might do something that you find unethical, or you might read some political news where the participants’ actions baffle you. There are countless other examples.

I used to get frustrated when each of these behaviors occurred. And this frustration would increase my stress level and negatively impact my performance throughout the rest of the day. This was because my default expectation was for everything to work out. That’s not a pragmatic approach to life.

There will be times when the behavior of other people disappoints you. Sometimes they’ll have negative intent, and sometimes they’ll have a rational explanation for behaving that way that you just don’t know about in the moment. Whatever the reason, poor behavior will occur, so it’s best to accept this.┬áBy preparing yourself to run into up to 10 poor behaviors each day, you change your baseline to accommodate the reality of poor behavior. This makes you less frustrated when it takes place.

Since adopting this approach, I’ve seen a noticeable improvement in my personal happiness throughout the day. That doesn’t mean that I no longer get frustrated. I still do. Sometimes you just can’t hold yourself even if you know that a poor behavior is simply one of your daily 10. But I get frustrated less often, and experience frustrations less intensely, than before.

Fortunately, I have yet to experience a day with more than 10 poor behaviors. If that happens, I may have to revise my expectation upwards.