Tis the Season… to Throw a Fit about Nothing
As the Christmas holiday season draws to a close and 2006 wraps itself up and goes away, I would like to share an observation I have made over this, and previous winter seasons.
People are uptight. Lots of them. And it’s bad. Bad for them, bad for their co-workers, families, and organizations. Uptight people create uptight policies. Uptight policies stifle creativity, happiness, and good, healthy relationships. I have observed so much uptight behavior in the past year that I have been trying to think of ways to measure uptight-ness in job interviews, performance evaluations, etc. How do you detect it? How do you fight it? In yourself, and in others?
I think people are uptight all year round, not just at Christmas. This season, one particular issue sparked my interest in “uptightness” in particular: the so-called war on Christmas, and its counterforce, the war on the war on Christmas. I have to admit, I don’t really appreciate the viewpoint of either side on this issue. To me, it appears as if large groups of reactionary, really uptight people have picked opposite sides on an unimportant issue and are fighting as if winning the fight (for either side) would make the world a substantially better place. Baloney.
I feel the same way about all political correctness in general. It is a symptom of uptightness – it’s about being so afraid to make a social mistake that we have to couch ideas in the most blandly incomprehensible way possible. Let me illustrate with an example, clearly at an extreme. The following excerpt is and amusing Christmas greeting I received from a friend:
To the uptight:
“Please accept with no obligation, implied or implicit, our best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low-stress, non-addictive, gender-neutral celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasion and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all. We also wish you a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling and medically uncomplicated recognition of the generally accepted calendar year 2007, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make America great. Not to imply that America is necessarily greater than any other country nor the only America in the Western Hemisphere And without regard to the race, creed, color, age, physical ability, religious faith or sexual preference of the wishes. By accepting these greetings you are accepting these terms. This greeting is subject to clarification or withdrawal. It is freely transferable with no alteration to the original greeting. It implies no promise by the wisher to actually implement any of the wishes for herself or himself or others, and is void where prohibited by law and is revocable at the sole discretion of the wisher. This wish is warranted to perform as expected within the usual application of good tidings for a period of one year or until the issuance of a subsequent holiday greeting, whichever comes first, and warranty is limited to replacement of this wish or issuance of a new wish at the sole discretion of the wisher.”
To everyone else:
“Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year”
What is Uptight, Anyway
Aside from not being a noun, which is how I used it in the title, “uptightness” is not hard to define. Uptight behavior is expending more energy on a cause than can be justified by the best possible outcome of the effort, usually motivated by insecurity of some sort. In other words, it is treating a trivial issue as if it were paramount, not because you have a substantial, measurable interest in the outcome, but because the issue plays on your particular weaknesses as a person.
Here are some examples of uptight behavior:
Don’t be Uptight
Relax. You don’t need to be uptight about life. It’s bad for you and for those around you. If you see yourself anywhere in this list, get over yourself. You’re not that important. The world doesn’t revolve around you, and it wouldn’t be a good place if it did. Not for you or anyone else.
Here are some rules to follow that can help you be less uptight:
Have a happy New Year!