This week, I explore the difference between an inconvenience and a tragedy. Then, I examine how understanding the difference strengthens you as an individual.
What Is A Tragedy? What Is An Inconvenience?
A tragedy is “an event causing great suffering, destruction, and distress, such as a serious accident, crime, or natural catastrophe.” An inconvenience is “trouble or difficulty caused to one’s personal requirements or comfort.”
A tragedy is losing a child or one’s home. An inconvenience is being stuck in traffic or dealing with a rude coworker. Although both are unpreferable, one changes the course of your life while the other impedes your comfort.
Lastly, a tragedy requires immense mental and emotional strength to overcome. An inconvenience requires little time, energy, or effort to dominate.
We Have A Tendency To Overinflate
“I don’t want to be at the mercy of my emotions. I want to use them, to enjoy them, and to dominate them.” – Oscar Wilde
Unfortunately, modern man considers every nuisance to be a tragedy, and he responds accordingly. If you think being stuck in traffic is as troublesome as losing a job, you will react with immense anger. You will sob when criticized if you believe words are the same as physical violence. If you believe waiting in line is as permanent as a brain injury, then such waiting will ruin your day.
What Causes This Overinflation?
Primarily, modern man is addicted to comfort. Because he is so used to his pleasures, he sees any hindrance to those pleasures as destructive or world-ending. His identity, safety, and well-being are tied to these comforts. Take them away, even briefly, and you will harm him as he cannot navigate life without these pleasures.
And these pleasures range from everything from necessities like food to reasonable desires like hot water to shameful vices like pornography. If any of these comforts are disrupted, modern man can only respond with a sense of immense dread because he knows no other life but a life of ease.
How Can You Proper Categorize Tragedies and Inconveniences?
When we can properly categorize what an inconvenience is and what is a tragedy, we can reserve our emotional energy. For example, if you accept being stuck in traffic is a minor disruption, you can avoid becoming frustrated. Because you didn’t express anger at traffic, you haven’t wasted energy. Now you have more emotional strength to process the other challenges of the day. Additionally, because you aren’t drowning in your anger, you can do something productive while waiting in traffic, like listening to a podcast.
Additionally, if we can properly see an event as an inconvenience, we can resolve it. Remember, tragedies require immense strength to remedy. However, you can surmount inconveniences with time, energy, and effort. A clogged pipe is annoying but can be resolved through a bit of elbow grease or a quick call to the plumber. There’s no reason to fret over issues with clear solutions.
1) Gain perspective
History exposes you to ways others have suffered. This exposure gives you perspective to understand how blessed this time is. With a clearer understanding of your blessings, you can adequately categorize nuisances.
So many things like car troubles and clogged pipes are reconceptualized. Do these problems suck? Of course. But 100 years ago, you wouldn’t have access to these items or services so cheaply. You couldn’t quickly call a mechanic or plumber to fix the issue. And depending on your identity, you would not be free in your society.
Read more books. Explore time periods that are rarely discussed. Immerse yourself in quality stories. When we seek to learn from the experience of others, we appreciate how comfortable and lively our time is. Such gratitude will help you see that your life is rarely tragic: it is full of conquerable annoyances.
2) Get away from weak individuals and social media
Having weak, manipulative people in your life will never serve your virtuous ends. You must move away from those who view every small problem as something to stress about. Weak individuals will pretend every traffic jam, tweet, or delay is a cause for concern or requires a meltdown. And if that emotional instability is around you, it will infect you.
Therefore, limit your time around weak individuals. Keep bothersome relationships professional and distant. Stop consuming mass media. Reduce your engagement with works written by pessimists and “realists.” Consume works that inspire and uplift.
A reduction in pathetic voices will reduce noise in your life. With less noise, you can better see how tragedies and inconveniences should be categorized.
3) Don’t Waste Your Resources
Your child dying in a hospital is a tragedy. Car repairs are an inconvenience. Inconveniences are overcome with time, energy, and effort. If you respect and reserve all three, you will never struggle to overcome inconveniences.
For example, if your pipe is clogged, you can use your free time to try and fix the issue. Give it an hour. If you can’t resolve it with the excess time you have, use your extra money to pay someone to fix it.
People overvalue minor issues because said individuals lack proper preparation for these pitfalls in life. Always have an active mindset. Look for solutions to problems, and always remember that everything can be resolved.
Reserve Your Emotional Energy
“The world is a tragedy to those who feel, but a comedy to those who think.” – Horace Walpole
If we are to excel in this broken world, we must reserve our energy as best as we can. The better you are at minimalizing emotional waste, the more energy you can have. If you are always overreacting to everything, then you will feel more drained and less capable of enduring hardships when they inevitably arise.
And of course, there are some gray areas between the two. While breaking your leg isn’t a tragedy, it also isn’t an inconvenience: it’s expensive, you’ll be handicapped for at least a few months, and it’s very painful.
But you have to be honest with yourself. Some things are not the end of the world and if you have the emotional maturity to see this, you will succeed. The man who does not respond quickly to his emotions is a man in control of his life.
- What is a recent tragedy in your life? How about one that happened years ago? How did you overcome your feelings toward such a horrific event? How are you coping now?
- What are some inconveniences in your life? How can you resolve them?
- What are some inconveniences that other people have that you think they overinflate?
- How do you waste your time, energy, and effort? How can you avoid such waste and reserve the precious resources you have?
Please remember that it’s important to do the actionables. You’re not on this earth to simply read but to do. To become an individual, you must act more than you consume.
*Image credit to Unsplash.