Most of us have a favorite pet, especially pets we had as children. Cushman was a big brown boxer we had when I was a very young boy. The older kids in our neighborhood, Chris Cortney, Tommy and Ricky Dickerson next door, and the Corey brothers kept their distance when my protector was with me. He slept at the foot of my bed, and every time I see a boxer to this day I think of my life’s first best friend.
In my work as a lawyer, many clients have beloved pets, which are their friends and every-day companions. A beloved pet is a treasure, indeed, and clients lovingly provide for them in their estate plans.
We also have pets that were not such favorites. Animals fare pretty well in the Wells household generally, but when our adult children get together for the holidays, the conversation turns now and again to a particular pet my dad said my mother “wanted my (then) young children to have” when my mother passed away at a relatively early age. Time and distance have helped our memories of Mandy, and they give Mandy the substantial benefit of the doubt.
But life does not equip us to do so well with our worst pets of all—our Pet Peeves.
Calling one of life’s true irritants a pet peeve does not help us. The phrase “pet peeve” has great alliteration, but who would travel a lifetime with a bad sight line on one of life’s recurring events that upsets us so? A better name might be “Pest Peeve.”
Most of my Pet Peeves, likely, would bother you, too. But not to the extent they bother me. And that’s the problem: the proportion of my life that I let my Pet Peeves have.
Here is a way to help you put your Pet Peeves in a better perspective. Do you think any of your actions are the subject of another person’s Pet Peeves? Do you do anything that might be viewed as even mildly bad form to others?
Unfortunately, in my case, yes. But I sure wish it were not so.
It is not a weakness but a strength to look deeply at your own (over) reactions and blind spots. Few of us really want to hear what we do not want to hear, but it might help you clean up your personal balance sheet if you do listen and learn what you may not know or understand fully about yourself. And it may even help you mark through some lingering items on your internal ledger of Life’s Regrets.
What I’ve learned about life on the way to the courthouse is this: We often carry around way too many irritants and Pet Peeves in life. Life has enough challenges without getting weighed down by largely random anecdotal opinions and experiences that often divert us in ways that are not helpful. Our Pet Peeves are rarely of such substance that we should allow them to do real damage to our core relationships (including what we think of ourselves) or our life’s work. But we sure give them the opportunity to do damage to an important relationship if we do not keep them at bay—or to cut them loose altogether.
Maybe you are like me and you have a Pet Peeve which you should show the door. And if in the process of your review of your memory’s inventory of options you line through a not-so-good habit or opinion on your life’s general ledger, it helps to make for a good day. A really good day. Because it may be the best bad pet you used to have. (Like a dog named Mandy I know my mama did not ever want her baby boy to have, after all.)