“Whenever I was upset by something in the papers, Jack always told me to be more tolerant, like a horse flicking away flies in the summer.” – Jackie Kennedy

A guy cuts in line at the store and I sigh. I’m walking with the sign and the driver of the car turning right never even looks my way as I feel my blood pressure rise. A conversation seems normal except I’m never allowed to finish my sentence and I get angry.

These things happen to all of us. When they happen to me, I wonder what to do. I don’t feel like flicking away “flies” as JFK told Jackie.

Yet for most of life’s annoyances, President Kennedy’s advice works fine. A pause in the conversation, a slight tilt of my head, even lifting a finger lightly from the steering wheel in the direction of the other motorist will shoo my life’s flies away.

But there are bigger flies that demand more active attention.

The columns don’t balance and the financials are all out of whack, but I’m asked to present them to the committee. Someone says the best way to end homelessness is for them to just get a job. Or I’ve poured my heart and soul into a few paragraphs for one of these stories, and the editor says it would be best unsaid.

That’s when I need more than a deep breath. I need a serious fix.

“Grumble, Grumble” has become my weapon of choice. Of course, it’s a concealed weapon because I only say those words to myself. They are my mantra and let me calm down, then look for a better way to move the discussion forward.

In the past I would dig in my heels and fight. The volume would get turned up, on both sides, but nothing would change. Now, these two simple words remind me that I’m not happy with the suggestion or comment I’m hearing, so my next move is to think about it first – then get back to them, or not.

These breaks give me room to think, to process the information without the pressure of having to make a decision in the heat of the moment. Everything gets better.

A friend of mine captioned my boyhood memory… “I don’t like this, but I refuse to scowl, so I’ll just resign myself to the fact that it is happening and it will hopefully be over soon.” Maybe I’ve always known about Grumble Grumble.

This grumble is a better choice than digging in my heels, playing the boss card, the gender card, the status card, or any power cards I hold. Those may win the battle, but never the war.

What do you think?

What other ideas do you have for allowing different views to come together?

Or is there already too much compromise? Do you view “giving in” as nothing but a weakness?

As always, the conversation starts here. And P.S. If you know the editor, don’t tell ‘um. Okay?

“In the ordinary choices of every day we begin to change the direction of our lives.” – Eknath Easwaran


There are experts who say anger is good for me, even healthy. Maybe there’s no end to the number of different sides, and the number of experts, for any point of view.

I think I’ll stick with, “Grumble, Grumble.” But, you decide for yourself after watching this video on the benefits of anger.