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How Do You Deal with Inconvenience?

Frustration is a fact of life. It’s how you face it that can change things.

How to deal with inconvenience and frustration
Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

We bought a microwave last week. This may not seem like big news, but we’ve never owned one before. In a New York City kitchen with minimal counter space, a cubic foot is far too precious to merit occupation by a single appliance. But one of my kids is currently on a special diet, and the convenience of time saved re-heating portions (and washing pots) finally outweighed the convenience of space.

I’ve noticed there’s a pecking order in types kinds of choices we get in life. At the top of the heap is the good vs. good variety. Which flavor of ice cream tastes better? Which car or college do you prefer? Whichever option we select, the worst outcome is that our pleasure isn’t optimized. Not a problem.

Next up is good vs. bad. These choices are either no-brainers or–when we face a tradeoff between short-term pleasure and long-term good–incredibly hard. What feels best today may be harmful five years from now, and what’s hardest in the moment may be what’s optimal for the future. Good vs. bad choices require insight, perspective and sticking to our values.


Finally there’s the least-worst option situation, where every possibility is painful, and we have to decide which is least harmful. Do we opt for the dangerous surgery or likely death? In which crime-ridden-neighborhood do you prefer to raise your kids? If we don’t face many dilemmas of this sort, we can count ourselves blessed.

My microwave purchase clearly falls in the good vs. good category for I had the privilege of weighing one convenience against another and making a choice. As I now learn to work around the monster presence in my mini-kitchen, it’s tempting to be more aware of the inconveniences it poses than the benefits it offers. Yet having a tiny kitchen is not a sin; at worst, it’s a frustration. The only sin involved arises from how I behave when I’m faced with inconvenience.

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