Twelve Things You Should Not Tolerate

not tolerateToday is Friday, June 28, 2013.

This is another one of those photo messages that goes around on Facebook each day.  Some of the things on the list I agree with, while other things seem a little unrealistic for many people.  I’m going to comment on each of the things on the list, but you can decide for yourself whether or not to accept each item.  The truly interesting experiment, however, is to make a list of your own of things you will not tolerate in your life, and not thing that you “shouldn’t” tolerate, but things that you will not, under any circumstances, tolerate.  You may wish to add items to your own list that are not given here.  Keep the list.  Work with it.  Be conscious about your decisions, and make changes whenever necessary.

1.  You should not tolerate unhappiness at work.

I don’t know any job that has no unhappiness at some point, but I suspect that what is meant by this is that we should not allow ourselves to be unhappy with our jobs to the point of detesting Monday mornings and dragging ourselves to work.  When the drawbacks begin to outweigh the benefits, it really is time to move on.  One of the things that keeps people chained to a job they hate is fear, pure and simple:  fear that they won’t be able to find another job, fear of reprisals from a former boss, colleague, or employee, and fear of running out of money are the biggest culprits.  There’s no doubt about it: it’s hard to find a job, and job interviews are not only scary, but also occasionally demeaning.  Applicants find themselves in the position of begging, and that is not a comfortable position to be in.

Many people have found that being fired or let go in a downsizing has been one of the best things that ever happened to them, because they realized how unhappy they were in their job and they were grateful for the impetus to find something they liked a whole lot better.  Others have struck out on their own, starting their own businesses or becoming independent consultants in a field that truly interests them.

Recently on Facebook, a friend of mine started making posts about how much she hates her job and the town where she lives..  This person is in her 40s, so she has a fairly long work life ahead of her.  She moved to her current location to be with her mother, after her father passed away.  I know that she has wanted to start her own massage practice, but lately I haven’t heard anything about that.  Anyway, I commented on her post sympathizing with her feelings and mentioning that perhaps it was time to look for some other job to pay the bills.   She retorted that I was too serious and that her complaint posts were just ordinary comments, and that I should lighten up.  I told her that I always take people’s comments seriously unless told to do otherwise, but that it seemed rather sad that she hated her job so much.  She told me that she has always been unhappy with her job, and that this is “the way it is,” and that I could accept that or not.  I decided not to comment further, but thought about the whole exchange, and decided to just unfriend this person on Facebook, since she was only a passing acquaintance.  Why should my Facebook newsfeed page be clogged with negative messages from this person.  I guess my decision was not to accept her unhappiness.

This woman is also single and obviously lonely.  She often complains that she has no social life in the smaller town where she lives.  I wanted to tell her that her unhappiness is probably also keeping the guys at bay, because who wants to date a wet blanket?   I decided not to say anything, though.

Maybe instead of saying you “shouldn’t tolerate” unhappiness at work, it would be a little fairer to say, “You don’t have to accept unhappiness at work.”  Sure, there are people who consciously decide to make a sacrifice for a reason, such as keeping a “sure thing” job that they dislike simply because it pays the bills, especially when there are others besides themselves to support.   Still, when we are generally happy with our line of work, other areas of our lives also seem to work out well.   If a person consciously decides to stay in a hateful job for “higher purpose,” that’s one thing, but staying in a job you hate simply because you think “that’s the way it is,” is tantamount to putting obstacles in your own path.

2.  You should not tolerate a long commute to work.

It depends.  Some people work in a location that they have no control over.  Perhaps your job is in the “downtown” area of a major city.  Acceptable places to live in downtown areas tend to be fairly pricy, and if you don’t make enough to live near your work, or you wish to take advantage of the benefits of living in a suburban or rural area, then you have to put up with a longer commute.   Once again, the key is to make a conscious choice and live with it.

3.  You should not tolerate an unhealthy lifestyle.

This one is almost a trick statement, because our modern lifestyle is loaded with unhealthy elements.  We eat highly processed foods containing chemical enhancers and preservatives with names we cannot even pronounce.  We consume food and beverages that have no nutritional value.  Products we use around the home for cleaning contain toxic chemicals.  We are surrounded by electrical and electronic devices, some of which emit electromagnetic radiation. Our neighborhoods have long been wired for electricity, but now we are adding cell phone towers that boost our connectivity, but emit deadly EMFs.  Our soil, and thus our food, are contaminated with pesticides that not only kill pests, but sicken and kill whole populations of bees, which are responsible for pollinating our food crops.  We think nothing of spraying our lawns with poison for no other reason that to make them look nice.  In the fairly recent past, we have used lead in our paint and asbestos in our building materials.  We use plastic and styrofoam products that are not biodegradable and which cause carbon pollution.  We depend heavily on electricity produced in environmentally unclean ways, and on petroleum products to fuel our cars, which in turn pollute our air.  Our factories throw their waste products into our water supplies.

Given all this, which of us lives a truly healthy lifestyle, if we can “tolerate” it anywhere on the planet?

I do think it’s important for people to start eating healthier food, and to be proactive in encouraging big business and big government to support clean energy production, for example, but no matter how healthy your lifestyle is, it’s important to realize that you are still living in an unhealthy environment, at least some of the time.

4.  You should not tolerate energy-draining or emotionally draining relationships.

Some of us do tolerate relationships like this because the person who is emotionally needy is a relative of ours.  Parents have to raise their kids, at least until they are legally of age.  Adults sometimes have to take care of their parents and other elders in their families.  Some of these relationships are emotionally draining, but we stay in them out of a sense of responsibility.  There’s no way to know how much negative karma we may  be balancing because we have elected to stay in an uncomfortable relationship in which we are the major giver.

With friends, however, it’s different.  Ideally, there should be an almost equal give-and-take, over time.  When people overstay their welcome in our homes, constantly ask to borrow money, or attempt to control our social lives, it’s time to say good-bye and good riddance.

5.  You should not tolerate a disordered living space.

Some of us live in very small spaces, which means that we can’t afford to have many things that have no use except decoration, and our stuff has to be put back in its place as soon as it’s no longer needed, in order to avoid the appearance of clutter.  Larger spaces make it a little easier for us to live in an uncluttered environment.  When I lived in a 3-bedroom place, none of my rooms seemed cluttered.  Now that I have a small one-bedroom place, my living space seems very cluttered, even though I have fewer pieces of furniture and fewer “things” than I had before.   Now that I’m retired, I’m much more apt to have my kitchen space clean, and I love to walk into a clean kitchen in the morning to make my coffee.  The bedroom is not so bad, either, these days, because I was able to get a large cabinet for my folding clothes and other bulky things that won’t go in the closet, and I have gotten into the habit of keeping the top of my dresser cleaned off most days.  I don’t always make my bed, but when I do, the room is pretty orderly.   The living room, unfortunately, is my office, which means it gets cluttered after a few days.  Fortunately, I host a meeting in my home about once a month, which forces me to keep my place tidy on a regular basis.

I’ve learned that I can tolerate a visually messy space, but I have a really hard time tolerating a confusion of sounds – an auditorily messy space, as it were.   In my home, silence rules.

6.  You should not tolerate negativity.

As I mentioned above, I recently unfriended a person on Facebook because of her negative attitude.  Just today a Facebook friend posted that he is also tired of negativity, and although he likes to host “discussions” on his “wall,” he noted that his Facebook wall is his “home” and he is no longer willing to abide negative people.  He doesn’t mind people who disagree with him.  Just people who are nasty about it.

I applaud his decision, and will probably do the same in the future.  This is also the reason why I don’t own a TV set anymore: there’s just too much negativity on the news and in the entertainment programming.

Someone I know once said that he had a large collection of Country and Western music, but that he had become uncomfortable listening to the lyrics of some of the songs, because there was a lot of self-pity, bitterness, and sadness in many of the songs.  He decided to give his collection of tapes and CDs to someone who might like them, and switched to music that was more uplifting.

There are a lot of sources of negativity in our lives.  Gossip is another biggie.  I know people who will refuse to even listen to it, and who will cut you off before you can say another word.  It may seem rude to interrupt a person who is talking, but I guess you have to be strict about keeping negativity out of your life, your living space, and your work space.

7.  You should not tolerate having too much “stuff.”

Those of us who have a big enough living space to collect “things” often find when we move that we have much more “stuff” than we thought we had.  Similarly, the family members who have to clean up when older folks die or move into a nursing home are often aghast at how much “stuff” their loved ones have collected over the years.  Many things with no real monetary value and no particular useful function are kept for sentimental reasons.

Our “stuff” represents our attachment to things.  We can have attachments to physical possessions, to money, to titles and status, to fame, to the approval of others, or to our own opinions.  Every one of these things that we form attachments to will have to be left behind when we leave this physical world.

There’s nothing wrong with having things that we use to make our physical lives more comfortable, and there’s nothing wrong with keeping mementos of memorable events in our lives.  The problem occurs when we start thinking that we cannot live without these things.

8.  You should not tolerate financial problems.

They say that the average credit card debt per person is around $46,000, so for a household with two adults, that figure would be $92,000.  The average homeowner owes a principle of around $70,000, with 20% of homeowners owing a principle of $100,000 or over.  In 2000, 60% of students graduating with a bachelor’s degree took out a federal student loan, with an average debt of more than $16,000 according to the National Center for Education Statistics. There are also significant amounts of private loans related to education, and cumulatively recent studies show the average student is left with a debt of $20,000 or more after graduation. In addition, most people take out a 60-month or 48-month car loan when they get a new or used car.  That’s a lot of debt.  Some people say that our economy is based on debt.

I did have the average amount of debt for credit cards while I was working, and had to stop using my credit cards altogether and consolidate my payments in order to erase that debt within five years.  I’m so glad I did this before retirement.  I don’t own a home, which means I don’t have any mortgage payments, but then I also don’t have any equity in a home or land.  I did buy my current car outright, so don’t have any debt associated with that, thank Heaven!  Right now, my credit cards have a balance, but I am keeping my credit limit at $2,000, with strict instructions to the credit card company not to raise my credit limit.

I will have some expenses coming up related to dental work and the fallout from a car accident while I was in Florida, but I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to handle it, even though it will be a “squeaker.”   I may lead a nickel-and-dime life, but at least I don’t have a great deal of debt hanging over my head.

9.  You should not tolerate living outside your integrity.

This one is a gem, and more and more I am gravitating to it.  When our actions and words match our thoughts and beliefs, things just go better, and we don’t get caught up in lies, posturing, or guilt feelings.  This is truly the way to spiritual freedom.  I’m not saying I have always been this way.  Nobody’s perfect.  But I’m beginning to see the benefit of keeping my integrity intact on a day-to-day basis.

10.  You should not tolerate living without having fun.

I think this is true, because knowing how to relax and have fun makes you a more effective and productive worker when playtime is over.  Attitude is key, here.  because there are times when our “work” can be considered a kind of play, as well.  Balance is key, too.  All work and no play may make Jill a dull girl, but all play and no work makes her a spoiled brat who can’t be trusted to pull her own weight.

11. You should not tolerate ignorance and inertia.

Life changes, and we need to keep up with the changes.  We can’t keep on doing things the same way as we always have, simply because we know no other way.  Fear is the culprit, here, specifically fear of the unknown.  It’s funny, but we face the unknown every single day, but we never seem to lose our far of it.  It’s also amazing how tenaciously we hang onto our fears, as if we can’t live without them.  Food for thought!

12. You should not tolerate lack of communication.

When we stop communicating, stop questioning, stop asking for clarification, we start to make assumptions and project our own feelings onto others.  We do things we want to do regardless of the feelings and sensitivities of others.  This doesn’t mean we can’t spend time to ourselves.  Just that we have to make an effort to make ourselves understood.  When people don’t understand us, it is at least 50% our fault.

As a teacher, I found that the vast majority of people are not very good at asking about something they want to know.  I realized that it was important to be able to re-state people’s questions, rather than simply answering the question I thought they were asking.  This practice has served me well, not only in my career, but in life in general.   It also brought to my attention that it’s important to phrase my own questions carefully so that I will get the answer I am really seeking.  This skill has helped me in using search engines on the Internet, as well.  Nowadays, people ask me to find information online for them because they know I can do it quickly and effectively.

Expressing how we feel is another bugaboo for many of us, myself included.  For children, especially, emotions are hard to pinpoint, and they literally cannot tell us how they are feeling because they cannot identify the feeling from past experience.  When things happen fast, adults also sometimes have a hard time putting their feelings – often conflicting ones – into words.  Sometimes we are not even aware of how we are feeling about a given event until weeks, months, or even years later.

A man I know often speaks of choosing our words carefully.  The way we make statements carries connotations that our listeners pick up “between the lines,” as it were.  There is always another way to express whatever we need to say.   Are our words cruel or kind?  Are they gentle or peremptory?  Are they arrogant or conciliatory?  Are we projecting friendliness and approachability, or our words hostile or disdainful?   Are we showing respect for our listener?   All of these things can be altered not only by the words that we choose and the tone of voice we use to say them.

*****

What do you think of this list?  What do you think you should not tolerate?  What have you already decided not to tolerate in your life?  How will your life change if you don’t tolerate these things?  If you have trouble making a list like this, start with your priorities.  In general, anything that gets in the way of your priorities should not be tolerated!    🙂

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3 responses to “Twelve Things You Should Not Tolerate

  1. Pingback: The Road Less Traveled | Beats and Pieces

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