One of the biggest illusions of life is the promise that things will change. That once you get out of high school and graduate college you will escape the clichés of cliques, bullies and assholes that have plagued you for years. No such luck, pals. To find your true happiness, you have to learn to move past it.

Much like the social anxiety, fears of inadequacy, and acne scars, assholes will stick around for a while longer. In work, in the gym, even in your children’s schools as the cycle begins again. 

Sadly, it’s human nature and inevitable. So, how can we deal with it and not only rise above, but be unbothered by the activity of people so below our attentions?

1 – Focus on the positive aspects of your life, don’t be sucked in by the negativity.

Yes, the spotty 18 year old who haunted you when you in Freshman year can go to hell, but he respawns again in the workplace environment, this time powered up as a DudeBro in a tie. 

However, unbeknownst to him, you’ve also grown and emotionally matured in the time apart. You’re ready for him this time, no more crying in the school toilets. Not on account of him, anyway. I don’t know how you spend your lives.

If you know who you are and what you value, and stick to your guns, then there’s nothing anyone can say to bring you down. If they think that reading is lame, let them think that, but keep reading. Stay happy.

Don’t be deterred by their unreasonable, dated and insecure opinions. The only reason they notice it is because they are clearly jealous and impressed that you can read and be so well-rounded if they suck at it. You’re happy, they’re not, they don’t know what else to do.

Assholes are always trying to compensate for something that they feel like they lack by pointing it out in another. They’re just as, if not more, insecure than the rest of us. We just deal with it in healthy ways with sensible outlets rather than online forums. 

Come on guys, get it together. 

2 – Memorise your putdowns to get them to lose interest, or don’t respond at all.

While it may be fun at first to think of your most creative and intelligent counter arguments to punish these assholes, you’re just playing their game. At some point you have to let it be water off your back.

They will lose interest if you don’t respond, classic bully move. If you’re mature and roll your eyes you will make them feel stupid for playing such a childish game, and they’ll back off.

But for sure, make sure you get a few hits in first – they deserve it. Particularly Brad from HR who keeps telling you the wrong times for meetings. Get a watch and observe his fragile self esteem wither away as you walk away from his nonsense. 

You are better than that, in all respects. 

3 – Reflect on your actions, make sure you aren’t an asshole yourself.

This might be a shocking suggestion, we all like to think we’re the heroes of our own stories, after all. But it’s worth taking a moment every now and then to think and check that we aren’t also toxic ourselves. 

Sometimes these assholes are stoppering our happiness and it’s the most frustrating thing because they are not at all self aware. They know exactly what they’re doing, but don’t really know the extent of how powerful a hit to the self esteem it is.

Make sure that you aren’t dismissing people’s opinions, talking over them in meetings, teasing them, or fighting with your siblings too much. There’s always a line you have to walk, make sure you don’t cross it yourself.

That’s the key to happiness though, letting all forms of asshole-ery leave us in 2019 where they belong.