When I was in the U.S. Navy, the sailors had a lot of social challenges since we had 200 grumpy men all sharing the same facilities for several months at a time. It should not be surprising that the laundry facilities were one of these points of contention. You could have someone do your laundry for you, for free, but it took over a week to get a load done and often came back dirtier than when you sent it. This left us with four washers/dryers and, as I said, 200 people.
Aside from waiting in line to use the appliances, the biggest issue came down to dryer lint. Common courtesy would dictate that, when you are finished using a dryer you should clean out the dryer lint trap so that the next person has a clean trap when they go to use it. Courtesy was not very common in the Navy, however. Dirty lint traps caused everything from arguments to fist fights.
Dirty lint traps bothered me, slightly, until I decided to take responsibility for the problem. Rather than only emptying the trap after I was finished, I got into the habit of emptying it before I used it. That way, it never mattered whether the person before me emptied it or not.
There are a couple of lessons that I grew up with which helped me learn to deal with my dryer lint. The first…
Everything is your fault.
I do not mean that everything is literally your fault. The sentence is meant to express that you are the owner of your own fate and situation. You control your actions and, if you are willing to think out of the box, you can control your situation in the vast majority of occasions. This could be with simple changes in your mentality. Such as, not relying upon others to clean the lint trap and just doing it yourself or taking actions to stop being treated poorly rather than just complaining that you are mistreated.
The second lesson that I have learned is…
Life is not fair.
Should you have to figure out why your co-worker is a jerk and work to stop them from talking behind your back or stealing your ideas? No it is not fair, but it is still for you to decide whether you want to just enable them with inaction or work towards changing your situation.
The message in this post may seem harsh but I have found these lessons to be a great comfort to me over the years. By accepting that life is not fair, I found that I am disappointed less often and am overall less stressed. I do not expect to receive the same things as others and, when I want something that I do not have, I work towards earning it.
By taking responsibility for fixing things that I dislike, without burdening myself with guilt over things that were not caused by me, I have found that I am in control of much more of my life than I ever would have before. As it turns out, there are a lot of ways to influence the actions of others without official authority or any other form of control over them. Which brings me to my final lesson…
People are like dogs, you train them the same way.
Again, harsh wording, but it is not that bad. Operant conditioning is a type of learning where behavior is controlled by consequences. The key concepts are positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, and punishment. Operant conditioning is used to train dogs and people. The difference is centered around what type of consequences are used.