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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

5 Examples of Everyday Stupidity That You Will Encounter this Week

Ding! Happens. No matter how much you plan or mentally prepare, life will throw you curveballs. That's why I teach people how to improvise. When most people think of dealing with the "Dings" of life, they think of major, giant events. And unfortunately, they will happen.

Much more likely and frequent, however, are the little daily "dings" that get in our way. And most often, we can attribute those dings not to fate or chance or intended maliciousness. No, no, most often we can trace those dings back to good old fashioned stupidity.

Here are five examples of everyday stupidity that you can bet you will encounter:

1 - Stupid Traffic Maneuvers

If you have read my stuff for a while or seen me speak, then you are probably already aware of how I feel about the stupidity of other drivers. For some reason, you can take the most intelligent and capable people in the world, and you put them behind the wheel of a car and they become blithering idiots.

I guarantee the next time you get behind the wheel of your car, and in fact every time you get behind the wheel of your car, someone is going to do something stupid. Cut you off, slowly come to a near stop right in front of you for no reason, back out of a parking spot without paying attention, straddle both lanes on a two lane road, tailgate you when you can't go any faster or get out of their way, etc, etc, etc. The list goes on and on and on and on...

2 - Stupid Comments

Never underestimate the stupidity of people. That may sound cynical, but think about it: I;m sure you can recall situations where someone said something so stupid that it took you days to decide whether you really heard them say what you think you heard.

Like a store owner add a dress shop who told my friend, "No, the skirt is not to small, your ass is too big." True story. Check out the full video clip of her telling the story.

No matter how unbelievable you may think it is that someone would say something, chances are someone has said far worse.

3 - Bad Customer Service

Walk into a store, restaurant, or any place of business, and you have a 50% chance of getting bad service. Someone's going to be rude, thoughtless, ill-informed, unhelpful, or just an overall idiot. Some people don't care. Some people feel they don't get paid enough to care. Some people don't even realize they are giving bad service.

Whatever the reason, bad service is common. If you let it bother you, then you are putting yourself on a fast track to a heart attack.

4 - Unsolicited (Usually Bad) Advice

A friend once said something very appropriate (and pardon the censored language): "Opinions are like a**holes. Everyone's got one and they all stink."

Face it. At some point soon, someone is going to give you feedback on something that you did not ask for feedback on! (Like the people right now who are thinking about sending me an email to let me know I ended that last sentence with a preposition. Get over it). It may not even be someone you know.

I have no explanation for why some people feel the need to put their $0.02 in everything, other than, "stupidity happens."

5 - Cell Phones

I think the cell phone would be Emily Post's worst nightmare. What is it about the cell phone that makes perfectly respectful polite people turn into giant rude annoyances? A few standard cell phone transgressions:
  • Talking way to loud in public (It's called an Inside Voice, people!)
  • Using the cell phone in a movie theater
  • Giving the phone higher priority than the person in front of you (i.e. answering the phone no matter who you are with or what you are doing)
  • Using the cell phone while driving without a hands-free (and almost running into people and cars as a result)
  • Staying on the cell phone while at a cashier and thereby being too distracted to pay for your stuff and thereby holding up the entire line!
And don't even get me started on texting...

The Lesson: Ding Happens. You know it's coming. You know people are going to do stupid things. Ergo, don't be thrown or get all apoplectic when it does!

The first Key Mentality in the step by step process to improvising with anything is to have fun! When stupid stuff happens, train your reflex to laugh at it.

The first one on this list, the traffic issues, get to me all the time, so I rant a lot about it. But that's my own way of laughing it off. That's my comedic style. My blood pressure's not really rocketing off the charts.

But I know people who do blow their tops in traffic, or when they get bad service, or when people say something stupid.

You know people are going to say and do stupid things, so don't let it get to you!

Don't get me wrong: I am not saying you should expect people to be stupid. (The Law of Attraction people would have a field day on me for that one...). You should still expect the best in people. I honestly still do. But realize that when stupidity rears it's ugly head that it's just a part of life and let it go with a laugh.

Not only will you enjoy your life more, but you will also be healthier and even more able to address some of the stupidity in the world.

P.S. For those wondering why I have a picture of Judge Reinhold and Danny Devito at the top of this post, it's because that picture is from Ruthless People, and my favorite line is in that movie, mere moments after the scene in the picture. One police officer looks to another and says, "This could very well be the stupidest person on the face of the Earth. Perhaps we should shoot him." Seemed appropriate for this topic. See for yourself (the clip will automatically start at the right place) :

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