During this holiday season events can occur that seem to be frustrating and make us feel down. Things like bumping into crowds and long lines while shopping; packed freeways and drivers who seem to think they are the only person on the road, darting in front of you, going slow in the fast lane and blocking miles of traffic behind them. There is rain/snow and cold making the commute a less than fun experience. Shopping for a desired item that is out-of-stock or on back-order, customers and tenants who are late on payments for any number of reasons, and missed deadlines from co-workers.
A friend of mine recently was told his home smelled of leaking gas so he called the gas company who came and confirmed there was a leak so they turned off his gas – leaving him in the cold on one of the coldest nights on record. It forced him to check into a hotel for the night until he could get a plumber to help him find and fix the leak and get the gas turned on again. He was in total frustration mode for this inconvenience.
The same day, another friend posted a photo on Facebook that showed a picture of one person holding a slice of cake with a big smile on his face, and another person looking at the cake with a missing piece with a huge frown. The caption reads, “Happy people focus on what they have. Unhappy people focus on what’s missing.”
Now – there are two ways to look at these situations. The first is obviously to react with anger and feel as though the universe is dumping this painful stuff on us. The other not-so-obvious thing to do is to look for the positive that comes from these situations and react with gratitude for the growth that comes from them.
My friend was told by the plumber, “You should be grateful for the friend who told you he could smell gas and caused you to call us. He likely saved your life – Most gas leaks end with devastating consequences because they are left unrepaired.”
I admit that I am like most people who react badly initially to such inconveniences in my life, but thanks to my spouse who reminds me to stop and think about how silly my reaction looks, and gently reminds me to look for the positive in the situation, I quickly change my attitude. Yelling at an inconsiderate driver or becoming agitated only hurts me, and makes my passengers think I’m a nut-case because they are the only people who can hear me.
Over time I’ve become better at quickly looking for the benefits of what seems to be frustrating. I am grateful for loved ones in my life who gently nudge me to live a life of gratitude.