If attitude is everything, then I need to change my attitude toward life. I have the naïve attitude each day that everything is going to go well. When I instead encounter one daily disaster after another, I get stressed out.

What are my sources of stress? Cars, computers, kids and other things with the hard “C” sound, like keys and columns. Compared to some people, though, my problems are minor. So why get so agitated?

As a source of stress, you can’t beat cars. They’re not just machines, they’re pets, like the horses they replaced. They need to be fed, washed, exercised and parked. So, when they break down, or won’t pass the emission test, or get smashed up in an accident, or SOMEONE BREAKS THE IGNITION KEY OFF IN THE DOOR … hold on. O.K. I just needed to take a few deep breaths.

Let’s get off the subject of cars and talk about computers. A computer’s not like a pet, it’s more like a co-worker who argues with you all day long: What do you mean, “file not found?” Well, why can’t I perform that application? What, you’re freezing up on me!

Normal interaction with a computer is stressful enough; try working with one that has a virus.

Computers aren’t really the problem; it’s my attitude toward them. My brother-in-law computer genius treats them like small children who don’t know any better. He never gets stressed. I look at them as evil geniuses out to get me. So, you can see why I need attitude adjustment.

Being a homeowner can also be stressful. For example, I’m responsible for enforcing the law of gravity in my home. That is the law as it applies to making sure sinks, tubs and toilets drain. If one of those suckers gets stopped up, it completely disrupts normal life. You end up spending a beautiful weekend getting blisters from a plunger, while you could be taking ten strokes off your golf score. Then you think about HOW THE STUPID THING GOT STUCK IN THE DRAIN IN THE FIRST PLACE … I can’t go on.

Thinking about my house is too stressful. Actually, cash, or the lack thereof, is right up there with cars and computers. I mean, who doesn’t get stressed about money? I do all of this work and have to wait for payment. Then there are these unnecessary expenses like parking tickets and late charges on videos. You step outside on a beautiful morning and see your car was left out overnight. There’s a ticket on the windshield and you look inside and THERE’S THAT MOVIE YOU HATED THAT WAS DUE THREE DAYS AGO … Excuse me, just needed a sip of water.

So, from now on, I’m going to expect that things won’t go smoothly. I will not be stressed out over these miniscule setbacks. The only thing that should really upset us is health problems. Hold on … WHAT DO YOU MEAN HE NEEDS STITCHES?

This column originally ran in 2003

John Rice is a columnist/novelist who has seen his family thrive in Forest Park. He has published two books set in the village: The Ghost of Cleopatra and The Doll with the Sad Face.