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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Additional Uses of Everyday Misery

It's almost impossible for me to get through a day without encountering someone who makes me miserable. It might be the woman who cuts me off in traffic or the guy who bumps into me and spills my Starbucks on my shirt. No doubt, you can offer plenty of your examples because there are as many jerks in your life as in mine.

These people are jerks because they interfered with my agenda, priorities or goals. They were rude enough to inconvenience me. They slowed me down or impeded my progress. How dare they!

Since you are a writer, you specialize in seeing situations from multiple points of view. How about this for another point of view: I was the jerk, not the other person. As a writer, I take a frustrating situation and rewrite it from the other person's point of view. The other person becomes the protagonist, and I become the obstacle to that person's agenda, priorities and goals. I write the scene from that person's motivational perspective, no longer giving myself the benefit of the doubt or assuming that I have the best of intentions.

This exercise stretches my imaginative muscles, allowing me to develop a stronger empathic sense. This exercise also reinforces the notion that people live through their perceptions of reality and that reality itself is unknowable. How's that for making good use of everyday misery?

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