February 11, 2009

If you don't observe them, do irritating people disappear?

One of the podcasts I have been listening to intermittently is Zen and the Art of Triathlon. I am several episodes behind, but I caught a good one this week called "Quantum Spinach". One of the pieces was using quantum theory to talk about difficult people. It went something like this...

He started with two ideas from science. First - scientists have observed that matter is actually 99.9999....% empty space. There isn't much of anything in between all the atoms, neutrons, electrons etc. Second - according to quantum physics, observation affects reality.

Then he paired the above observations with dealing with difficult people. He makes the point that difficult people are only difficult to you a small percentage of your time. He gives examples of neighbors who flick cigarette butts out on their sidewalk. The amount of time in his life that he sees the cigarette butts is .0001% of his life. The rest of the time, he isn't experiencing those difficult people.

Of course many folks let these sorts things bother them for a much larger portion of their lives. Back to the observation of matter, you are observing the problem it as if it were 100% solid, when in reality, the real matter only occupies .0001% of the space. The goal of course is to not let such a small thing ruin your day.

To reinforce his point, he relays a story of two monks encountering a beautiful lady at the edge of a stream.  The lady is in a bit of distress and needs to get to the other side of the stream for some reason. So one of the monks picks her up in his arms and carries her to the other side, where he sets her down and receives a quick kiss on the cheek.

The two monks continue walking. It becomes apparent that the second monk is furious, smoke practically coming out of his ears. He can't contain himself and finally has to say something. "How can you have done that? We are supposed to stay away from women, yet you carried this woman across the stream." The first monk says, "you know, I put her down miles ago. You are still carrying her."

That is what you are doing if you let someone continue to irritate you, or you let one thought dominate your mind. You continue to carry something that should have been set down a long time ago. And of course the frustration you carry around, the difficult person probably isn't thinking twice about. Why should you be the person suffering?


matt said...

Nice One -m

SeanH said...
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