Do You Ascribe Intent?

ascribing-intentDo you ever ask yourself, “what is the secret to a happy life?” Do you ever find yourself getting wound up about really trivial matters, things that never should have even come close to getting you frustrated? As Tim Hoch says in his article “10 Ways You’re Making Your Life Harder Than It Has To Be,” this is what we can call “ascribing intent,” and it has the power to ruin your day in the blink of an eye.

Here are the examples that Hoch lays out in his article:

Another driver cut you off. Your friend never texted you back. Your co-worker went to lunch without you. Everyone can find a reason to be offended on a steady basis. So what caused you to be offended? You assigned bad intent to these otherwise innocuous actions. You took it as a personal affront, a slap in the face.

This tendency to take these tiny actions so personally is not a prominent characteristic of happy people. And yet, there are so many people who ascribe intent in these situations every single day.

The only way that you can get past this common hang-up is to realize that not every action has intent behind it, or at least the intent that you have ascribed to it. Another driver cut you off? Maybe he or she didn’t see you. Your friend never texted you back? Maybe they were busy at the time, and simply forgot.

Nobody knows the single secret to a happy life, but I know this much: you won’t find happiness in taking offense to these tiny situations that pop up in your life. Fight the urge to ascribe intent, and you’ll be a much happier person.


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