Doing the Pothole Twist: Negativity Kills Happiness

Doing the Pothole Twist: Negativity Kills Happiness Em Capito, LCSW, MBA

You go into work on a Friday morning. Your already aching for the weekend and have a lot of ground to cover today to wrap things up. You go to log in to the one program critical to your work and your nightmare begins.

Access denied.

You call tech support and get a newbie. They wind you in circles with no clue what the real problem is. You’ve been put on hold six times and have started to detect an Indian accent as you get angrier and angrier. An hour into the issue and the representative shoves the problem off onto you, it must be on your end.

Steam spits out of your ears and your eyelid begins to twitch.

You pound out an angry email to your account manager with multiple expletives. The second she gets it and has time to read it, her phone is ringing. Guess what comes out of your mouth (at work):


All because Microsoft updated to IE10.

Well…that was embarrassing.

This is a true story, at least from the perspective of the account manager who joined me for a ladies night downtown yesterday.

People in general have too many buttons. Then we tie sticks of dynamite to several of them so that if the correct combination are pushed on any given day…watch out.

I myself have a historic short fuse that had the power to level at least a few call center representatives and WalMart “managers”.

My mother was always saying, “You might attract more bees with honey than vinegar”, which never made sense to me because I love vinegar, especially apple cider vinegar. It took more than a few humiliating day afters to get the point that there is no point.

Getting angry and belligerent is basically the single biggest waste of energy, time, respect, and relationships in the world and if you have a habit of it, there is no hope for enjoying a wonderfully happy lifestyle.

I’ve written about how autonomy is correlated with fulfillment, how productivity leaves you satisfied, and how moderation rather than extremes leads to greater happiness. But this one should have come first – reacting to life’s little potholes with negativity will kill off any hope for an extraordinary life.

Perhaps the gentleman from the story has a pile on his desk that symbolizes a big picture project that would move the needle for the company and his position, but he simply hasn’t had time to get to. Almost all of us have one of these piles, at least in our head if not on our desk or nightstand. What would his happiness level be going into the weekend if he had taken advantage of the situation and completed the project that had been waiting for this big day for too long?

Take a deep breath. Remember your priority. And then turn that giant pothole into an unexpected opportunity.

Have your own pothole twist story? How did you reframe a tragedy into a victory?

  1. Can’t we all! It definitely takes a lot of practice to stop reacting to the things you can’t control. Just yesterday I nearly lost my focus on Halloween with my kids because of bad news that came in the mail. Peace and happiness requires a constant commitment.

  2. I have to admit that I can be the bear on a bad day. Those are the days where I wish I could have just called in sick and stayed in bed. Of course, if I could just not react to the crap that rains down all at once, that would be better!

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