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About That Thing That’s Bugging You — What Happens If You Ignored It?

Hispanic girl covering her ears
Photo: KidStock/Corbis

The wonderful and terrible thing about being a person in the world is that there are other people in the world — other people who do weird things and have weird habits that sometimes, weirdly, bother you more than they probably should. On this week’s episode of the podcast Happier, author Gretchen Rubin poses an interesting thought experiment: What would happen if you ignored those things? 

By posing the question to yourself, it forces you to think a little more deeply about the thing that’s bothering you. And maybe it doesn’t turn out to be something to ignore. If you’re constantly finding, for instance, that you’re covering for a colleague’s slack, well, that’s probably something to address directly if the problem persists. Likewise, anything medical that’s been bugging you — please check that stuff out.

But it’s often the smaller, dumber things that end up claiming bigger spaces in your brain than they have any right to. An example Rubin hears a lot from her readers and listeners is people who are frustrated with their partners’ habit of never closing cabinet doors. Annoying, sure. But what happens if you ignored it?

Nothing. Nothing is what happens. You shut a cabinet door every once in a while, and everyone happily moves on with their lives. This seems like sage advice, and the best part is that you only have to do one thing to put it into practice: nothing.

What If You Ignored That Thing That Bugs You?