We all experience frustrations, when our expectations or plans are disrupted, interrupted or wholly thwarted. This causes anger to well up within us - indeed, frustration is a name for a particular kind of anger. The greater our expectations, the more frustrated we will become.
According to anger management expert John Lee, "Expectations are unrealized resentments waiting to happen." The more we have ideas about how things should be, the more likely we are to be frustrated when those expectations are not fulfilled. Thus we go through life with ideas in our heads about what should happen, how such-and-such should work, what the socially accepted thing should be in a particular situation and so on and so forth - all of which is setting ourselves up for greater and greater frustration.
In my life, my history of interacting with Microsoft productivity software is precisely encapsulated by this observation: they are such a source of frustration for me because I have expectations about how an Office suite should function (some of which have been acquired from working with Microsoft's Office suite in the past, which has prepared me with certain expectations that later versions often thwart). I am thus prone to frustration when dealing with these, an outcome which helps no-one and certainly not myself.
What can we do about our frustrations? I cannot offer a panacea, but I can say what helps me.
I am often struck by people who seem to suffer less frustration in life than I do; many of them manage to be placid in the face of what would be enraging for me, and with this seems to come a greater tendency to be delighted by the unexpectedly pleasant. It is as if, by having fewer expectations, by being less bound to the self-made rules of should, they free themselves from frustration and open themselves up to finding delight in the positives, rather than burning up in the friction of the negatives.
As someone who finds wisdom in all the great religious traditions, I see in such people an expression of the spirit of the Buddha, whose four noble truths say that existence is suffering, and the origin of that suffering is desire - or in the terms we are discussing today, expectations. In Buddhist practice, one eliminates the desires (the expectations) in order to eliminate the suffering, which is traditionally achieved through meditation and a reorientation of one's world away from the selfish drive of Me and towards an attitude of love towards the world. In this way, Buddhist teaching accords with the ministry of Jesus, which also teaches love as an antidote for suffering (sin, in Christian terminology, although many do not interpret the term in this manner).
My wife gave me a small wooden Buddha statue to keep on my desk; I try to focus on that when my work drives me into a rage compounded from myriad software frustrations. It is difficult, in the heat of the moment, but I still try, and if I fail I do not let myself feel defeated but rather I draw satisfaction from the times when I am able to quell my growing anger and becalm my tempestuous temper. It is perhaps harder for those who have no link to spirituality - someone who has "no invisible means of support" (to coin Fulton Sheen's memorable phrase) - to still their demons, but perhaps even the most grounded materialist can find the logic in silencing the demanding voice of should in their psyche, a voice which lures us into frustration.