There has been a plastic trash bag in the hallway across from my apartment door for about the past month. When the new people moved in, they left all the boxes in the hall for a week or so, and then the boxes were replaced by this plastic bag. Sometimes it moves closer or further from the door, it is occasionally joined by a box or two, and then the boxes go away but the bag stays. They seem to have no problem stepping around it every time they enter or leave the apartment, and there have been no signs that they will remove it any time soon. This has absolutely no effect on my life whatsoever, but for some reason I find it incredibly annoying. I want to leave an angry note on the door, but note-leaving is passive-aggressive so eventually I'll probably knock on the door. But what would I say? "This object that is not in my way and does not smell or make any noise is completely pissing me off. I occasionally think about it during the day when I'm not home and then I get annoyed all over again, even though I'm not even looking at the bag at the time." What's my problem? Of course it is disrespectful to leave trash bags in common space, but it's not like they're letting their dog shit in the stairwell (which people do) or smoking so much weed that they hot-box my bathroom via the vent system (which also happens).
The other thing that annoys me disproportionately to the effect it has on my life is when people put their backpacks on the seat next to them on the bus. Why are you so special that you get two seats when other people have to stand up? The thing is, I get pissed at people who do that even if there are other seats available and they are not actually preventing anyone from sitting down. I'm annoyed on principle. Feet on the seat of course is a different thing, that's never acceptable no matter what else is going on, but backpacks? Who cares? Me, apparently.
Trivial grievances are the hardest to let go of. They feel too small to matter, but they change your mood, so they just eat away at you without ever getting resolved. This kind of small annoyance can ruin your day. They can ruin a relationship if you let them (he never puts the toilet seat down, she never washes her dishes). But bringing up trivial annoyances in the same way you bring up larger ones feels shallow and unnecessary. Spending time every day mindfully forgiving your ex for cheating on you seems like a way to move forward and grow emotionally. Spending time every day mindfully not caring about a plastic bag in the hallway seems totally nuts. The thing is, trivial shit adds up fast if you just shove it in an emotional corner and don't deal with it. The small stuff is less likely to ruin your day if you acknowledge it and give yourself the space to let it go.
We are very quick to assume a negative intention in other people, or take things personally when they probably aren't personal. If someone cuts you off in traffic, you assume he's an asshole. If you accidentally change lanes in front of someone, to you it was obviously a mistake. Your kid isn't forgetting to put her dish in the dishwasher to spite you. Next time you find yourself getting bent out of shape over something that doesn't matter, ask yourself: do I need to be upset about this? Is getting upset about it adding anything to my life? If it is actually important, start a conversation about it and get it resolved. If it isn't, give yourself space to let it go. Forgive yourself for getting upset, but don't get stuck in the feeling of being annoyed. If we give ourselves permission to actually practice letting go of things that don't matter, daily life is a little easier, and there's more space for the things that do matter.