So What?

My wife and I were driving back recently from my grandmother's 90th birthday. It was a great turnout: 52 out of 56 family members showed up. A great time.

But return trips suck--especially into Chicago on a holiday weekend. So we were both testy. But the difference between my wife and I is that when my wife is testy, she doesn't yell at gas pumps. In public. And in front of a 7-year-old girl. Just because the pump was being slow. I think I smacked it too.

People with anger problems often throw pathetic, childish tantrums like that one. And what's funny is that the causes of most tantrums share something in common: they're outside our control. I've actually caught myself screaming at a computer:
That's not healthy. And both of my parents are hypertensive. I'm genuinely afraid my tombstone might read: "Died From Immaturity." Because that's ultimately what a tantrum is about, right? It's a failure to recognize that something you don't like is outside of your control.

This makes me wonder if most Americans are as immature as I am. Because Facebook and Twitter get maxed out with rants after almost every political decision. I even saw people deactivate their accounts after the "=" campaign took off. How is that any different than the reaction we get by taking away something a 2-year-old wants? Toddlers throw tantrums because they can't understand why they can't have what they want. In this case, I think adults can't accept that they can't have what they want.

But there's a potential solution to this, something I'm going to call the "so what" principle. It works like this: the next time I'm about to click "ok" and a Java update pops up just in time to catch my click, I'm going to say, "so what?" I may have to wait a few minutes for it to finish, but I'm going to choose to focus on the future, not the past.

Why? Because the past can't be changed. It is what it is. The same principle can be applied to the person in favor of traditional marriage. So America's decision about DOMA makes you mad. So what? The decision's been made. But your future hasn't. That doesn't mean that you have to like the past, it just means that part of growing up is learning to let go of it.

photo credit: Stemlokaal provinciale verkiezingen 2015 via photopin (license)