If it seems like people are angry all the time, you may be right.
With life's demands continually increasing, minor annoyances are turning into major crises. Terms like "road rage," which didn't even exist 10 years ago, are commonplace.
"I perceive that time is the biggest culprit," says C. Leslie Charles, author of "Why Is Everyone So Cranky?" "We do not have enough of it. The world is moving faster. Technology is moving faster, but we can only move so fast. It's putting all of us in a hurry. We want convenience and immediate service, and if we don't get it, we get mad."
Palm Pilots, cell phones, pagers and other gizmos have created a constant stream of interruptions that create an ongoing sense of urgency and emergency, even if one doesn't exist.
"A lot of what is happening is our frustration of attempting to keep up," says Charles. "It's the pressures of wanting everything in the world. We need to become conscious and aware of our actions. Most business owners will write a business plan, but they don't write a life plan. You should be asking yourself some of the same questions you did for your business plan. A life plan gives you a strong sense of purpose in your life.
"If you have a sense of purpose, it changes what you do and how you do it."
With a life plan in place, you will have a greater idea of what is important and what isn't, eliminating many of the minor annoyances that add up to high stress. When something negative takes place, you'll have a full understanding of whether it is minor or major.
"Technology has taken away the people aspect of our lives," says Charles. "For a small business, this can work to their advantage. The huge megastores are strangers dealing with strangers. A small business has the ability to develop face-to-face relationships."
This is the type of environment that makes people feel at ease and keeps them coming back. Of course, dealing with customers can be a source of stress itself.
"The next time someone pushes your buttons, remind yourself that you are the one who installed them," says Charles. "You can just as easily disconnect them. You need to understand anger without malice. There are times you don't have to get angry, and you can express being upset without any actual malice toward a person.
"You have got to keep your dignity. You don't want to waste your time being upset over something you can't control." Todd Shryock (firstname.lastname@example.org) is SBN's special reports editor.