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Dealing with the Small Irritations in Life

By Ann Richardson October 14, 2023 Lifestyle

I am struggling with an old roll of scotch tape. The end has been lost, so I am trying to dig out the thin membrane of tape to allow me to get it working again. I get a small bit and then, instead of a large useable piece, I find myself with a narrow strip that diminishes into nothing.

Yes, it is one of those rolls that came with a dispenser, but someone used it and didn’t put it back right. Was it me or someone else? In any case, thoughtless. Very annoying. Waste of time.

And then – because the news is of nothing else – I think of all those people in Israel and Gaza who have lost their lives over recent days. Never mind the ones who are wounded or without their essential medicine. And probably homeless.

Do I have a right to get cross over a recalcitrant scotch tape?

Crises Elsewhere

There are always crises elsewhere – some we know about and some we don’t. We know of the dreadful fighting in the Ukraine that has been going on for more months than I care to remember.

And it hasn’t been in the news much, but there was a major earthquake in Afghanistan very recently, resulting in the loss of 2400 lives at last count. In fact, it looks like there was a second one.

Or the dreadful wildfires in Canada.

And much else besides. Things we don’t ever hear about, but terrible.

It gave me pause for a few minutes. Of course, the scotch tape was definitely in the very, very unimportant category.

Until my earphones got hopelessly tangled and it took me some minutes to sort them out. Irritated again.

The Many Small Irritations

I think there are always small irritations in life.

The bus is late, and you will not be on time for your dentist appointment.

The avocados that looked so nice in the supermarket are too hard to give to your guests tonight. Do you have any suitable substitute?

You discover that your phone is not charged just when you wanted to contact a friend on a sensitive matter.

The potential examples go on and on. On every front. Just living your everyday normal life. It used to be called Murphy’s Law. (“Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.”)

And we will continue to be irritated, whatever is going on in the rest of the world. I don’t think we can help it.

The Starving Armenians

Were you brought up with the starving Armenians? I was. When I didn’t eat every bit of food on my plate, my mother would remind me how much these distant souls would want everything that was there.

As I was brought up in the years immediately after World War II, I am not sure how the starving Armenians got involved. There must have been plenty of other hungry people at that time, but not these. I suspect the Armenians dated from my mother’s parents, and she was simply repeating what she had been told as a child.

I could never figure out what these starving Armenians had to do with the food on my plate. ‘Send it to them’ was my mental response, but never actually aired. Not the time to be difficult.

The point being that whether or not I ate my food at that meal, people would be hungry elsewhere, and there was nothing I could do about it.

And, in case you are wondering whether I have lost the plot, it is the same with my Scotch tape and the wounded and dying in the Middle East.

They won’t be helped or hindered by my immediate annoyance.

And Yet

And yet there is something that gives some pause. Perhaps for a few days, I will dampen down my irritation with small things.

Those of us who live relatively normal lives outside of a war zone do have something to be grateful for.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

Do you get annoyed at small things? What has annoyed you recently? Do you sometimes stop and think that you really should be grateful – not annoyed?

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Linda Hample

I do agree with the frustration of little everyday life happenings. It seem like the more I age the shorter my tolerance level becomes.
I think it is important to work at having a positive attitude on matters of frustration irregardless of the issue. Maybe even be able to laugh after we have solved the challenge. I was given a small, easy to read book by a lady who I had never met before in a pizza parlor. It’s title is Holy Moments by Matthew Kelly. This book speaks to the many frustrating, hurting times in our lives that bring someone in (maybe God, a family member, a friend or a complete stranger) who will help us to work through the issue. Yes, horrible things do happen but,the one thing we must hold onto is hope. I believe that we do that through a positive attitude.


I appreciate this perspective very much, thank you. My daughter is experiencing suicidal postpartum depression which is terrifying for me. It helps me to maintain perspective that most of our lives include suffering & yet we get through our adversities by supporting one another. I get strength from this website, thankful.


I thought I was the only one. I don’t know if it has always been this way or if I am getting worse. Truly, l believe I rolled with the small irritations. But the world is just chaotic now and it is something every day. After the terrible, terrible years of US politics, climate change, the rise of hatred and bigotry, a world wide pandemic—it just goes on. I believe that has just rubbed me raw and I feel like I have aged so much in the past 8 years! So, no, I lash out at the tape, or ear phones etc.


Yesterday turned out magical for not just my granddaughter but everyone who participated. We hosted (my granddaughter, daughter and I) a pre Homecoming luncheon for eight, extremely thankful, young ladies. They ate, swam, showered, curled hair, did makeup and made a lasting memory for all. I was at first hesitant, annoyed and then I thought nope we need to do this as it’s my granddaughters last Homecoming and it was magical. 🥰


Amusingly suggested.


The Author

Ann Richardson’s most popular book, The Granny Who Stands on Her Head, offers a series of reflections on growing older. Subscribe to her free Substack newsletter, where she writes fortnightly on any subject that captures her imagination. Ann lives in London, England with her husband of sixty years. Please visit her website for information on all her books:

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