I think we can all agree that people who drive too slow top the list.
But….then… there are the people that drive too fast when they’re in a hurry. Don’t they realize they could kill someone?
Don’t even get me started about everyone texting while driving.
People who talk on their cell phones in restaurants. We don’t care about your personal life!
Or people that start sentences with “I’m going to be honest with you”. What, the rest of the time they’re lying?
People who use bad grammar.
People who swear.
People who can’t make up their mind at the front of the line.
People that only talk about themselves. Boring!
How about People that complain all the time. I really can’t stand negative people!
And then there’s the grocery store!
People that leave their grocery carts in the middle of the aisle. Hello, I might need to use the aisle too.
The change diggers
The coupon counters
The check writers. Like they haven’t heard of a debit card!
And, of course, there’s the gabbers. Why the other day I listened to a woman practically conduct an entire meeting in line…………wait a second ….that one was me. Some of these other ones could have been me too.
I don’t need to finish this list because today, friends, I want to talk about loving others. My question is…how can we love others when they are so annoying? I hope to provide some answers here.
The first step as I alluded to a minute ago is to realize that we are all doing things that annoy other people. We hold up the line with our questions, drive too fast, too slow. It’s just so much easier to see what others are doing then what we do. Isn’t it nicer when those around us are patient with us, don’t honk their horns, roll their eyes or sigh.
The second step is to change our perception. Stephen Covey, in his well-known and highly regarded book, “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” talks about having a paradigm shift which led him to a new level of compassion. He tells the true story which happened to him a few years back. He was riding the subways of New York on a peaceful Sunday morning when a father came in with several young kids. The kids starting horsing around causing havoc, yelling, throwing things, even grabbing people’s papers while the dad just sat there. Mr Covey just couldn’t believe that this father could be so insensitive as to let his children run wild like that, taking no responsibility at all. He could see that everyone else in the subway was feeling the same way as him. Finally, Mr Covey leaned over to the father and with what he felt was admirable restraint said to the father “Sir, your children are really disturbing a lot of people I wonder if you couldn’t control them a little more”. The father lifted his head as if seeing the situation for the first time and said softly. “Oh, you’re right. I guess I should do something about it. We just came from the hospital where their mother died about an hour ago. I don’t know what to think, and I guess they don’t know how to handle it either.” Uhh! How awful. Can you just imagine how he felt when he heard that and those those words changed his perception of what was happening. So…am I suggesting that we imagine that every person that bothers us has just endured a tragedy. ….Yes, exactly. Because some of them are having difficulties…sick spouses, unexpected divorces, children dying, having illnesses themselves…or they haven’t- maybe they are just a naturally crabby person or just someone who’s out of sorts that day. Either way, it’s impossible just from looking at people to know what they happen to be going through and it’s better to extend grace to any situation. In addition, many people just don’t know what I’m about to tell you next.
How to be Happy
…it’s simple….Don’t let things make you unhappy. Happiness is a Choice! But it’s a choice that has to be made over and over. I believe that happiness is strongly tied to forgiveness..because when you are able to forgive the things that make you unhappy what’s left is peace of mind and peace of mind is the best kind of happiness. Here is a process that I think help with the Happiness choice.
Let’s go through these together.
1. Decide to forgive in advance
This one is very important. What are the scenarios that most upset you or where you are the most impatient? Imagine yourself in the scene. Could you view it differently? Could you respond differently? Practice how you could change your perceptions and responses.
2. Do your best
When the situations come up again…and they will…you’ll be ready. Now’s your chance to respond more positively. This is where the advance practice comes in handy because otherwise you’ll go right into your habitual responses.
3. Forgive yourself
Forgive yourself when you don’t do as well as you would like. Forgiving yourself is what this is really about!
4. Repeat as Needed!
As you repeat these steps you’ll see that what used to bother you bother won’t bother you anymore…or at least not as much.
As I said, it’s simple…it’s just not easy. I know from experience. I’ve been working on this process for the last 9 years after reading Gary Renard’s A Disappearance of the Universe. It’s been quite a journey…in my mind that is. My outside life has remained mostly the same. I drive around town doing errands. I still help out at my husband’s office. I grocery shop a lot. But on the inside my thoughts are much kinder. I feel like I’m more patient and tolerant. It’s still a challenge to correct my thoughts but I’ve been rewarded with relationships that I feel have been improved with my many family members and friends. They may never know how my thinking has changed but I can see the difference in my thoughts and feelings and judgements and that’s what counts. It’s been tough to come to terms with my own shortcomings at times but I’ve gained motivation by watching and learning how others handle the same difficulties. I’ve been inspired by what I’ve seen.
I hear some people say, “I woke up on the wrong side of the bed” or “I knew it was going to be a bad day.” My advice is don’t succumb to that temptation! We all know how easy is is for someone’s bad mood to rub off on us. Let’s vow to not be that person! Because, who knows how our kindness and happiness could change the people we interact with. The effects could be the most profound possible. So when you look up at the starry night sky, ponder the universe and wonder, “Who’s going to make the world a better place?” Say to yourself… “Me, that’s who!” It’s up to each one of us to love more….let’s see where it takes us!
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