And they’re inevitable.
Even if you’re fortunate enough to live in an area where these biting insects aren’t a problem (does such a place exist?), you still face the scourge of metaphorical mosquitos – the pesky little problems that gang up on us and, too often, rob us of the enjoyment of life.
Decades ago a Houston pastor contrasted the less frequent but decidedly more serious trials of life (“the charge of the elephant”) with the less serious but much more frequent problems we face (“the charge of the mosquito”). I’d never before imagined mosquitos as charging. And I’ve never forgotten the illustration.
Sales trainer and professional speaker Chris Lytle once told us a story about his having missed a plane connection due to circumstances beyond his control. He was going to arrive late for his own speaking engagement. This was many years ago, before cell phones, and there was no way he could inform his host or attendees of the delay. All Chris could do was fume and stew on the plane, his hands tied and situation unchangeable.
Then he had an epiphany.
He realized that the only thing all his fuming was accomplishing was to make himself miserable – emotionally, mentally, even physically. There was nothing constructive about it. Then and there, he determined to make the best of the situation and not make matters worse by indulging in self-induced misery. Chris chose to isolate his situation. He recast it in a different light by characterizing it with a single word:
It wasn’t the worst thing that had ever happened, or would ever happen to him.
He wasn’t in a hospital, let alone on his deathbed.
He hadn’t lost a loved one.
He wasn’t in dire straits.
His career wasn’t over.
He was simply running late for an appointment, through no fault of his own.
People would understand. Life would go on.
An temporary inconvenience. Nothing more.
Faced with similar mosquito-sized attacks over the years, I’ve found it helpful to remember Chris’ description. So, when I received an email awhile back that contained an article someone had passed along to a client on the subject of mosquitos, it resonated with me and I found myself recalling Chris’ story.
Perhaps it will prove meaningful to you, too.
Why mosquitoes stop happiness:
In his Book “High Energy Habits” author Bill Ford talks
about “Getting rid of the little things that annoy you.”
I like to think of the little things that annoy you as being
like mosquitoes. They are pesky, irritating and drain you
of energy you could use far more productively on other things.
Here are some of the common little things that annoy many people.
- A loose or missing button on an article of clothing
- Email backlog
- A dripping tap
- Mould around your bath or shower
- Light bulbs that need replacing
- Things that need to be returned to shops
- No room in filing cabinet
- Drawers that don’t close properly
- House not finished
- Garden needing weeding
- Magazines waiting to be read
- And many more.
Often these ‘mosquitoes’ are some minor annoyance or
irritant that that you are tolerating, but are not happy about.
Usually you know what to do to fix it, but you have just not
yet got around to doing it. Then before you know it, months
and sometimes years have passed and the irritant is still there.
So you almost don’t notice the dripping tap, the loose door handle,
the light bulb that keeps shorting out and more.
You just work around them.
When you start to notice these mosquitoes you will see there
can be a lot of them.
Bill Ford suggests that you imagine that all of the little jobs
around the house requiring attention have a Post-It note
attached: the bills say ‘pay me’, the magazines say ‘read me’,
the stain says ‘clean me’, and the papers say ‘file me’ and so on.
Now imagine that as you move through your home that each
note has a naggy whiny voice saying ‘me, me, me, me!’
The voice are all different but all of them are grating
on your nerves.
And as you have a cup of coffee, read the paper, get ready
for work, some part of you is engaged in saying ‘later, later,
later, not important enough, no time right now’.
We are so busy that these little things do not seem to
justify a high priority.
But it takes energy to ignore the mosquitoes and it also
reduces our enjoyment of what ever else we are doing
at the same time.
The wasted five star hotel room:
Imagine you have just paid a large amount of money
to stay in a luxury five star hotel room. The room is
magnificent and has every luxury you could possible
You lie down to sleep in the superbly comfortable bed
and suddenly you hear a mosquito start to buzz.
You turn on the light and because the hotel ceiling is
so high you can’t get the mosquito. It buzzes in your
ear all night and you just can’t sleep.
The five star hotel room has been wasted and all
because of one tiny mosquito.
This experience happened to a friend of mine Des Moss
and prompted him to write: “If you think small things
don’t bother you, just try sleeping with a mosquito”
This experience is exactly what life is like when it is
full of these little annoyances.
Here’s the solution Bill gives:
1: Take 10 minutes and make a list of all the little things
in your life that annoy you.
You can even make two lists if you want to.
One list can be for work and one list can be for your
Add to each list over time. You will start to notice
more and more things that are not quite the way
you would like them to be.
2: Pick two easy ‘mosquitoes’ and deal with them today.
By ‘easy’ I mean items where you know all you need to
know in order to fix them and also won’t take too long.
These could be things like clean your car, sew on a button,
replace a light bulb and so on.
Notice how it feels when you have fixed each of these two
Then keep going and pick at least two more ‘mosquitoes’
for another day.
The momentum will build. Even if you don’t get the thing
that irritates you fixed make sure you at least write it down.
I used this strategy myself and in ten minutes I came up
with 15 little things that annoyed me around my home.
I managed to eliminate three of these pesky irritations
that same day. One was an overdue library book I needed
to return. I put it in my car and dropped in into the library
a few hours later.
It was so simple to do, yet I had put it off for a week.
I felt so much better after fixing these three annoying
little things in my life.
So one way to create more happiness in your life is to
get rid of some of the ‘mosquitoes’ that bug you and see
how good it feels.
Make a list of at least 10-20 little things in your life that
irritate you in some way. Then take action on two of
these things today and notice how you feel.
I passed this along to my family members and a few friends who said they enjoyed it. Hope you enjoyed it, too.
P.S. The Bible teaches that adversity is just a part of life, inevitable, and is used by God to develop our character and dependence upon Him (Romans 5:3-4; James 1:2-4). Although it is never enjoyable, it need not be a source of anxiety. In fact, we’re instructed specifically not to worry but to pray (Phil. 4:6-7), and to trust that He will work things out for our benefit (Rom. 8:28ff.). Such encouragement is invaluable, whether the charge we’re facing is that of the mosquito or the elephant.
P.P.S. You can even have fun with mosquitos if you know how.
Rod, it’s just GREAT your article, I will pass along my family and friends.
I leave in a mosquito area (Puerto Rico), but we survive