Irritation might be the key to your happiness

This month in my regular column on North By Northwest on CBC Radio One I talk with guest host Margaret Gallagher about how to turn what frustrates and angers you into a tool to reveal what you truly value in life. If you know that, you will add happiness to your life right now.


If you missed it you can hear it online here (at 28′ and 20 ” into the podcast) or you can also check out a previous blog I wrote that relates to this  topic.


I decided to talk about this using the emotions of anger and hate because negative emotions are all around us. Taylor Swift talked about it in her song Shake it off– Haters gonna hate, hate, hate. Mr. Burns said it to Marge in the episode where Marge paints his portrait. As he gazed at the painting she made of him (a nude no less) he said “I don’t know much about art. But I know what I hate. And I don’t hate this”.Mr_Burns


While negative emotions are very toxic, they can teach us something. Hating something or someone may be signaling to you that theress something at stake that you really value.   So when you are irritated or annoyed with someone or something, ask yourself why this offends you? In that ‘why’, you will find a key to for yourself that you can use to live a more fulfilled life.




For example: You have a friend who is always late for every date you make with them. It makes you so angry that you phone and rant to a friend. Do you say “They don’t respect me, showing up late like that.” You have a value around respect, and punctuality is one way you express that. Or maybe you say “ I have more important things to do than wait for them”. What ‘valuable’ activity did you wish you were doing rather than waiting?


Irritation is a cause for celebration!


If you have someone who annoys you, celebrate!   Every person who annoys you can teach you about what matters to you. Just like the classic break up line “It’s not you, it’s me.” In this case it’s true. It’s me.   If someone really annoys me, that is telling me something about myself. Not about them. They’re stepping on something I value.  Once I see that, I can really do something with that.


What you love

The other way to find what you value is look at peak memories. The moments when you felt you were in the right place, doing the right thing. I will never forget how excited I was when I first took a philosophy class in University. I felt my world get larger after every class. My fascination around human behavior has never waned and exploring the nature of our minds remains a strong value to me. It probably explains why I’m a life coach and a singing actor, these are both jobs that let me live that value.


Living the Value


If you want to be happier and more satisfied in life, this is the key. Once you know what you value, then you will want to check and see where you are living it. If you value adventure, are you travelling abroad? Are you exploring a new neighborhood in your city? Do you read travel stories in the paper? These are all ways you can satisfy that value and get all the benefit of living what matters to you.


What do I do next?

Know what you value-look for 6 to 10 values

Rank your values in order of importance to you.

Ask yourself- Where am I living this?


If you say that family is most important, is that reflected in the time they get? Or do you just pay lip service to that? The price you pay is your happiness.  Start looking for small ways to connect more with them on an ongoing basis and see how it changes how your week feels.



I promise you, if you can do this, it is a sure fire way to move out of dissatisfaction and feelings of being disconnected with your life.

Through discovering your values and weaving them into your every day life, you will discover greater satisfaction and peace.   Who couldn’t use more of that?