Calm Down:mini-mission

You are running late. The person in front of you has their foot on the brake, even though the light is green. You can see the driver chatting away, obliviously, on his cell phone.

You are angry. Maybe you hit the steering wheel, grunt, scream or let out a “WTF?”

Once you start driving again, you wonder what came over you. You aren’t an angry person, so why did something so small make you so damn mad. You handle big crisis with grace and yet, you can’t get through a traffic light without threatening someone’s life under your breath.

Maybe that’s just me, but if this sounds familiar, this mini-mission is for you. Calm Down. All day long we react to annoying situations.

Situations like:

  • Bad drivers
  • Poor cell phone etiquette
  • Farmville farmers
  • Express line offenders
  • The guy in front of you at the coffee shop that is ordering for their entire company, when all you want is simple soy dry cappuccino. (ok, that’s mostly me)

While we can’t always control what we are faced with, we can decide how we react. Here is a 3 step plan that will work for those annoying situations that make you want to pull your hair out.

Your 3 Step Calm Down Plan

  1. Take a deep breath. Just one deep breath will bring you back to earth and let you act from a more stable place than where you were with your fist waving out the window.
  2. Smile. You might not be happy, but a little grin will remind you not to take things so seriously. Don’t worry about looking slightly deranged with your angry grin, it will soften into something more genuine over time.
  3. Tell a story. When something, or someone is really making you mad, especially something you have no control over, like someone going through the 10 and under line with 50 items in the grocery store, make up a story. Replace your urge to hurt someone with a made up story that will make you like the person, or at least pity them. For instance. “That poor woman must have dropped her glasses on the way into the store and couldn’t see that this line is clearly for people checking out with just a few items.” or “That man’s wife must be in labor at the hospital and he is on his cell phone, sitting still at a green light, because he is her labor coach and helping her through a contraction.”

Use this at home too. What simple little thing makes you crazy? An open toilet seat? Dog hair on the couch? A wet towel in the laundry pile? Clothes on the floor instead of in the closet?  Follow the steps above, and you’ll find it hard to hold a grudge over something so unimportant.

What situations annoy you? Share in the comment section and I’ll help you calm down.

For more experiments to simplify your life, read Mini-missions for Simplicity. It’s available on the Amazon Kindle store, but you don’t need a Kindle to read it. Kindle books can also be read using the Free Kindle Reader App for your Web Browser, PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone, BlackBerry, or Android.



  1. joan says

    i’m going to try this the next time i arrive at the kitchen sink to find coffee grounds all over it! that should be any minute now!

    • Courtney Carver says

      Ok Joan, This story might help.

      I just can’t believe my “fill in the blank”‘s luck. He (or she) dumped the coffee grounds in the sink and when he went to lovingly wash them down the drain, he remembered we were in the middle of a drought. He was about to clean them up without water, but was overcome with thirst. Refusing to run the water, because of the drought, and deliriously thirsty, he left the coffee grounds and went in search of something to drink.

  2. says

    Sometimes I do the tap your forehead 10 times, and then if you are still angry maybe it’s legit. :) I have also started meditating more and it has calmed my nerves. It’s all about readjusting our negative energy into positive which can be very hard sometimes. But I love your idea about making up a story. I will have to try that one. :)

  3. Susan says

    I like to think that my “type A” personality has significantly upgraded to a “B” or “C” type. I seldom make up imaginary scenarios for people who stand in my way of moving at warp speed. I find it’s easier to realize that this is a very SMALL miniscule span of time in the whole scheme of thing. What might it have robbed me of, actually…???? 10 more minutes of shopping time in Target for things I really didn’t need anyway?

  4. says

    Hi Courtney!
    It is amazing at the things we let get under our skin. My hubby was ill at teenage daughter becasue of the way she parked in the yard. (We have a large gravel driveway and multiple cars, I know, not very minimal) If he had said one more thing to ME about it, I was going to remind him that after his brain aneurysm, hadn’t he decided not to let stuff like that stress him out?
    I know you are thinking up funny stories, but in reality, for the people we run across in our lives, you don’t really know hat their situation is. There is a song called They Don’t Understand that will make you think twice about blowing your horn at the old man driving slowly! Here is the link if anyone wants to watch-
    Here’s to a calmer weekend!

  5. says

    Amazing insight into the stories.

    I used to create stories when I played football to create hatred for my opponent. ie. That guy hits females. I found I play better when I did it.

    Never thought to do it to create love. Thank you.

  6. bunny says

    My kids talk to me at the same time, or sometimes alternate requests, hitting me with some sort of verbal inquiry…about every minute. My story “could” be that they are seemingly unaware of each other. But, they ARE seemingly unware that there are 2 of them and 1 of me : )

    • Larissa (in Australia) says

      happens all the time to me and I point it out – I say “You guys are tag-teaming” Then they say sorry…and keep doing it! but they’re aware of it! I generally just stop listening (if it’s unimportant) and they give up.

  7. Larissa (in Australia) says

    I started doing the story thing years ago when I was stuck behind a car enroute to somewhere I go constantly. As I passed (when safe to do so) I saw this weedy little old man with a petrified look on his face and it dogged me for hours. Perhaps his wife had died and he’s never done the driving. Maybe he was on his way to the hospital when he usually doesn’t drive in so much traffic. Maybe he was having a heart attack and some idiot was tailgating him and trying to get past at every opportunity. It completely changed my view on why people drive the way they do. Maybe that soccer Mum is ready to pull her hair out because she will NOT buy takeaway AGAIN this week because she needs to save money. Maybe the cute guy in the little hatchback is driving his girlfriends car for the first time and can’t find the stupid gears! WHO KNOWS?! But to display grace and patience in these times is a great feeling. AND you can keep your pulse rate down – healthy!

    • Courtney Carver says

      I try not to make up sad stories, but you are so right. We never know what’s happening in someone’s life. Grace and patience…

  8. says

    I’ve started to count in my head whenever I’m stuck in line or in traffic and I feel the urge to honk, yell, swear, sigh and roll my eyes, etc.

    Most of the time, I get to 3 or 4 and I’m on my way. It really puts time in perspective.

  9. says

    I’ve also got one for when I’m stuck in traffic…I use the number plate (and car badges etc.) as a sort of game, and see how many words I can make from the letters.

    It passes the time, and keeps the brain power turning over. I almost find the delays enjoyable now!

  10. Inmy says

    I like to think the other drivers are my loved ones…perhaps one of my teenagers new to driving, an older relative, etc. Helps me to be more patient and courteous. When encountering an erratic or possibly drunk driver I let them pass me. It’s better to be behind them! Everything is happening just as it’s supposed to. You are where you are in life because of the choices you have made. When you’re stuck in traffic remember…the only people who complain about the traffic ARE PART OF IT! Relax. Breathe. Life’s too short to get trivial stuff get to you.

  11. kaco says

    I also use the ‘pretend apologies’ technique – I pretend in my head that the person apologized to me (which sometimes makes me laugh too and lighten up) and then I forgive and move on. Occasionally, sometimes I find out later I was wrong about my understanding of the situation!

  12. says

    This speaks to me. What annoys me….um when my kids call my name over and over over and over. I try this technique. Thank you 😊