You order a coffee. While handing you the coffee, the barista accidentally drops the cup. Coffee spills.

What do you do?

You order food at a restaurant. It tastes horrible.

What do you do?

You’re running late to an important meeting on the 5th floor. The elevator is full, and you’re not in it.

What do you do?

In each of these situations, you have a choice. Frustration or calm.

Each of these are a whirlpool. If you choose to get frustrated, you’ll get sucked into the frustration whirlpool and you’ll continue encountering things that will frustrate you further.

Should you choose calm, frustrating things will stop happening to you. Because calm is also a whirlpool.

You cannot control the situation. You only control your response to the situation. Frustration comes when we react to a situation. Respond. Don’t react. That response determines the level of your happiness.

When small things frustrate you, you are frustrated often. As a result, the size of your happiness is small.

When you stop getting frustrated by small things, your happiness automatically increases.

Reaction is automatic. It’s also unhealthy. Learning to respond is a way of life. It comes with practice. Deliberate practice at the beginning. Eventually, it becomes an unconscious habit.

When my children get angry or frustrated with something, I remind them to ask two questions:

  • Is this problem small or big?
  • Is this problem temporary or permanent?

Mind you, it doesn’t always work because they’re kids. But when it does, the situation is resolved within seconds. Ideas is to get them to think for a second so they can respond instead of react.

If the problem is temporary (regardless of the size of it), ignore it, or quickly solve it. The barista can always make new coffee. Chef can always cook new food, and empty elevator is just a minute away.

Point is … Unless the problem is big and permanent, there is no need to worry or get frustrated about. Even then most likely, there is a way for you to handle it.

The size of your happiness depends on you. No one else. Are you going to respond or react? Are you going to choose calm or frustration?