You're the Problem
While driving my dad often got upset by other drivers. My mom would respond to his frustration by saying, "When that person woke up this morning they decided today they were going to piss you off." This always made the situation worse, but, her point was valid.
She was attempting to put the situation in perspective. Other people aren't intentionally trying to upset us. We upset ourselves by letting the situation dictate how we feel. Although we control our own thinking, we let other's control our emotions.
If someone or something makes us upset it's because we're letting it affect us. People aren't actually out to get you, unless they are.
So now you understand and won't ever be frustrated again! You will always be jovial and happy! Bullshit.
Understanding that your mindset is making you frustrated is good. But, it won't change the way you feel when a bad situation arises. Rather than getting upset, utilize one of these two tricks and everyone involved will be happier.
Taking the Blame
The first trick is to not blame others. Have you ever noticed you're the victim in every bad situation? Even evil people think they're the victim.
As humans, it's easy to place blame on others. Seth Godin says that even if the complaint is valid, it isn't helpful:
If you buy my product but don't read the instructions, that's not your fault, it's mine.
If you read a blog post and misinterpret what I said, that's my choice, not your error.
If you attend my presentation and you're bored, that's my failure.
If you are a student in my class and you don't learn what I'm teaching, I've let you down.
It's really easy to insist that people read the friggin manual. It's really easy to blame the user/student/prospect/customer for not trying hard, for being too stupid to get it or for not caring enough to pay attention. Sometimes (often) that might even be a valid complaint. But it's not helpful.
If we blame others, we immediately put them on the defensive. Look at the situation from the their point of view: They think someone else (you) is the problem too.
As humans we hate being wrong. We don't want to be wrong and when we are, we don't want to admit it. It's embarrassing and we're afraid of it.
To be happier, just admit you're wrong. Even if you're not. The more you do it, the easier it gets.
Don't worry. Even if you aren't to blame you won't need to convince others. They'll agree with you. If someone else admits they're wrong, we jump on that band wagon fast.
But, why would you admit you're wrong, even when you're right?
Because being right doesn't matter. The only thing that matters is accomplishing the task at hand. As long as you're moving forward, who cares if you make a few mistakes along the way?
Let Others Know Our Perspective
Ramit Sethi tells a story about buying a jacket, not trying it on for a few months, realizing it was too big, taking it to the store, and getting mad because they wouldn't do alterations for free. Then he recognizes the situation:
I thought I was mad at the store policy... but I was really mad at myself. I had all these thoughts in my head ("I'm a good customer... they should pick up the tab... they should reward customer loyalty")... but I hadn't said ANY of these things to the woman at the shop!
He continues by saying to resolve the situation, we just need to tell people about our situation and how we feel.
People aren't mind readers and the only way to get what we want is by making others aware of our situation. We need to show them how it's beneficial to them.
Here are some common situations that upset me and how I deal with them:
A neighbor playing loud music - They're having a great time. But, I need to wake up early in the morning. Rather than screaming at them to turn it down, I say, I'd love to join their party, but, I need to get up early in the morning. Then I ask them when's the next party, showing them I'm not a party pooper.
Someone denting my car - Probably the easiest to deal with. A car is a material possession. I treat it as such. Things get messed up over time. Car damage isn't a big deal and it's replaceable.
Someone littering - I pick up the trash. I've done a good deed today!
Someone cutting me off and nearly causing me to crash - I know they did it unintentionally. I remember the time I did something similar to another driver and the way I felt about it.
You always perceive things from your point of view, since, the only perspective you have is your own. But, your perspective is screwing you. You need to view the world differently and rather than blaming others, blame yourself. Other people think you're the problem anyway. So agree with them.