We are always going to have problems.
Believe it or not I think that is a good thing because without them, life would become incredibly boring.
The main thing is how we react to our problems and fortunately we do have some control over that.
Unfortunately, I don’t always use that control very well.
Sometimes it is things, sometimes it is people and sometimes it is money and other everyday worries that get to me.
When that happens, I sometimes take out my frustrations on the next person I have to deal with even though they had nothing to do with my lousy state of mind.
I think that is normal but I’m not happy about it, and when it happens I usually wind up feeling worse about my behaviour than I do about whatever was getting me down in the first place.
I imagine many of you can relate to that so today I am going to try to find a way of seeing things that will save us – and the people we deal with – a bit of pain and maybe even create a bit of joy.
A friend gave me an example of stressing out at an inappropriate time that might be helpful.
She works as a medical receptionist and she told me she had a series of patients come in one day last week demanding attention for mostly insignificant complaints; things they could have taken care of themselves.
She said she had a great deal of filing and computer work to do but she kept her cool and dealt with them very professionally almost to the end of the day.
When an elderly man who had been demanding in the past came in looking more miserable than usual, however, she said she started feeling sorry for herself as well.
“I let out a sigh as I started attending to him but this time his ailment wasn’t minor at all. He was beginning cancer treatment. I felt absolutely terrible about my first reaction,” she said. “I kept it together all day for all the people who were just looking for sympathy but let down the one person who really needed it.”
But this shouldn’t be seen as just a damage limitation exercise.
Another good way to keep our cool when the going gets tough is to remember that we rarely hear about the positive effects our actions have on other people… especially children and young adults.
I can remember several teachers and even one employer who inspired me to do my best by being decent people and by being patient and allowing me to learn from my mistakes.
Sure, I didn’t want to disappoint them but I can clearly remember thinking, yeah, that’s the way it should be.
I want to be like that.
The thing is, though, I never said that to any of them.
Even today, a kind word or action from a stranger can lift my day.
Shit happens, but that doesn’t mean it’s alright to be shitty ourselves.
We are never going to get it totally right, but if we can remember the same holds for others, we might be less of a problem and maybe even part of someone’s solution.