Forget self-help books. Fictional books and TV shows offer a wealth of information about how to better live one’s life. After moving on from a re-read of Cold Comfort Farm, which is the ultimate introvert’s guide to rationally ordering one’s life, I turned to Gilmore Girls.
For anyone who has never seen it before, the show focuses around Lorelai Gilmore, her daughter, Rory, and their life in the almost-perfect and very quirky town of Stars Hollow. Lorelai had Rory when she was in high school, and their relationship is much closer than the typical mother and daughter. Rory is bookish and brainy and has dreams of attending an Ivy League university. Lorelai runs an inn and has a series of doomed relationships because every viewer knows she is meant to be with Luke, the grumpy diner owner. Basically, it is a perfect show, balanced with humor and great characters and emotionally charged moments.
“That’ll do, Pig” is the title of season 3, episode 10 of Gilmore Girls. Lorelai’s mother, Emily, is dealing with her impossible mother-in-law, and Lorelai gives her some advice gleaned from years of dealing with Emily and every other difficult person in her life:
- Find the humor in every situation
- Remember that it’s not personal (the reverse of the classic excuse: it’s not me, it’s you)
- Do what you want to do anyway
Following this advice, you will find that it annoys controlling people. They revel in making others miserable, in imposing their will, but if you smile and do just as you please, you will find your life immeasurably improved. Although you cannot control the actions of other people, you can control your own reactions. Seeking approval from controlling people is a frustrating exercise of running in perpetual circles. The other people in your life will never be satisfied, there will always be something more they want you to do, and you will never be happy following someone else’s path instead of your own.
There is a time in one’s life where drama feels interesting and fresh, where slammed doors and yelling might seem exciting. But drama has a way of wearing thin very quickly. Give yourself a nice, “That’ll do, Pig,” and, if you are Emily Gilmore, eat very, very slowly to annoy your mother-in-law.