My dad had this saying when people bothered you or when you were spending a lot of time worrying about someone. He’d say “The next time you see that person ask them for a dollar.” Why? “Because they’re renting space in your head.”
It always cracked me up. Can you imagine asking someone for money because he’s taking up space in your head and he needs to pay rent? You’d sound silly. I think that was the point my father was trying to make. You’re just as silly wasting time thinking about someone who has bothered you as you are asking him for money because of it. While my father has since passed away, I still refer to that saying. I believe it’s one of the best things he taught me.
Letting people who have slighted, overlooked, demeaned, or hurt you take up your precious thought space is only hurting you—not them. That person who is “mentally bothering” you is probably not worried about you. I once heard worry is like a rocking chair, it keeps you doing something, but it gets you nowhere.
I recently realized I was in a rocking chair state of mind. I was struggling with vindictive feelings toward someone who wronged me. I was venting frustrations to my mom when she said, “you need to just move on, if you keep talking about it, you’ll never get past it.” Those simple, but powerful words thrust me back into reality. I thought, “Oh my goodness, I’m going to have to ask this person for rent money for renting mental space. I’m not doing that!”
What does our anger or worry gets us? Nowhere. What do they achieve? Nothing. Your anger just converts into bitterness and your worry just becomes ongoing stress. Even if you feel the urge to seek revenge and act on it—that revenge won’t change the past, it won’t correct the wrongs, it certainly won’t make you a better person. But you know what will? Living well. After all it’s been said living well is the best revenge. Think of it like this, if you run into that person again, her or she will just see how awesome you are and that whatever he or she did had no impact on you. (I think that’s pretty sweet revenge itself, “look how great my life is without you.”)
Spend little time being angry and realize the best thing you can do is something amazing. Find a way to make someone else’s day better. Give an unexpected gift. Smile at a stranger. Spend time with a good friend. Plan a trip. Pick up a new hobby. Whatever you do, just be productive and remember that you’re better person because you have given yourself the gift of moving on. And when you run into that person again, instead of asking for a $1 for rent, you might thank him or her instead. “I’m better because of what happened between us. Thanks!”