Sunday, July 25, 2010

Teachable Moments



Lately I've been working on trying to think positive thoughts about people and situations. You know, like trying to find something nice to think about the lady in front of me at the DMV. Instead of being negative and judgmental, thinking she really needs a pedicure, instead focusing on how nice her hair looks, or how kind she looks when she smiles. Punctuating the thought and replacing it with a positive one.

But I've been running into some difficulty, especially while driving, taking something back to Best Buy, dealing with the cable company, bank, or anything having to do with computer problems.

Seriously - it's really hard to stay in a positive frame of mind when you have to deal with life. I keep failing right and left. If left to my own devices I can think some really negative things about people. Whole scenarios about that fancy car that just had to cut me off just before the stop sign we were both approaching...

I don't know if it's the heat, or the negativity in the world right now, but trying to control my thought processes is a full time job. It's exhausting! Too many teachable moments!

Sometimes I just want to stay home so I won't be "tested."

What about you? How do you stay centered?

50 comments:

Roni Faida said...

Life is crazy. I find if I accept that, then when crazy things happen, I just say, "Yep, that's life." and I find the good in it and not dwell on the negative. For instance, I just got off Eurostar and I missed my original train. I wasn't late (I was on time but there were TONS of people) However, the train took off because they said, "We waited long enough." So, most people were fuming but why would I be upset? That wasn't going to make the train come back so I patiently waited my turn and got my new seat assignment. Stress is toxic and gives you wrinkles. Neither one is what I want.

When I meet difficult people, I think, "This person is an idiot, I'm not. So let me be the better person and stay calm." Cause if I react and get stressed, that effects me and no one else. And if someone cuts you off, does it matter? You will still get to your destination, just a few seconds later. Think about the fact that you are blessed to be able to drive a car, have the $$ to fill up the tank and that you have places to go. So many people don't have any of that.

And all of that, for me, is achieved by meditating on what is in the Bible. I read it everyday and it totally helps me stay calm. Wow, this was a long reply!!!

Nancy said...

Roni - How right you are. Good points, all.

Roni Faida said...

And I understand about the heat. It makes you not want to do anything and it instantly can put you in a bad mood. Maybe it's cause over the past year I have had lots of tragedy in my family and with my friends cause now I always think, "At least I have a roof over my head" or, "But I have a family that loves me" or, "I can see, hear, think..." cause really, so many people don't have those things. And there is nothing wrong with staying home sometimes, it is necessary and enjoyable!
www.trilingualdiva.blogspot.com

Kathryn said...

To tell you the truth Nancy, I do avoid people a lot of the time. Not to say that all people are annoying - it's just that crowds of people, or too-busy people are annoying. I visit banks and grocery stores early, to avoid crowds. I stay home on long weekends instead of going to overcrowded places via busy highways. I create a peaceful situation, or avoid a turbulent one as often as I can. when most of the day goes well it's easier to deal with the small part that doesn't. I do like people and I'm not a hermit, but whenever possible I choose the road less traveled. Also - it sounds corny, but those "nature sounds" cd's help. (Ocean waves, chirping birds, etc). I play them in the car and zen out while driving. I have to work on my thoughts all the time; I'm a "glass is half empty" person by default, but I've overcome depression by working on the positivity and fighting my default. It's working! I avoid listening to the news and reading the paper - too much negativity. If something big happens I'll hear about it, but I do not need a constant barrage of bad news.
Sorry this got a bt long, and I know we can't always avoid busy times and situations, but you may be able to make some small changes to find more peace. Once you do that the "thought-work" isn;t so overwhelming. Good luck with this!

Brian Miller said...

periodically i just have to take time for mysef to keep centered...long walks in the woods...or jst sitting out at the grape vine...breathing...

Nancy said...

Roni - Living in a grateful frame of mind is sooo important. Thanks for the reminder. There are so many with so much less, that the little things are just that - little. Good point about the heat, too. I do think being too hot makes me cranky.

Kathryn - Great ideas for keeping sane - avoid, when you can, the times when irritation might be overwhelming. I have also cut way back on the news. It's amazing how listening to all the bad makes you start to think that is all there is in the world, when that simply is not true. Working on my thoughts is a full time job sometimes. :-)

Trish and Rob MacGregor said...

Great points, all of them. I try to remember that the more negative my thoughts are, the greater the chances that I'll attract more to feel negative about. That usually helps pivot the thought.

Von said...

Get some geese Nancy they are wonderfully centering!

Nancy said...

Brian - That grape vine sounds nice.

Trish - Don't I know it! Most of the time it works for me, too. Except when it's too hot...

Von - Geese would be wonderful! I love to watch them fly - it must be nice to raise them.

otin said...

I just basically laugh off situations anymore and just think that they could only happen to me and just chuckle a bit!

蕙春蕙春 said...

愛情是一種發明,需要不斷改良。只是,這種發明和其他發明不一樣,它沒有專利權,隨時會被人搶走。.................................................................

leilani said...

LOLOLOL! Nancy!! love this post! nancy i find you positively delightful! =0D

Pat said...

I try to think positive thoughts, and maybe because I'm not out in the working world that people don't really bother me so much.

The negativity I feel is in my own situation, where my life is going, finances, etc. I'll get the doldrums and then think, "Hey, there are a LOT of people out there who would GLADLY switch places with me!" That usually shakes me up a bit!

Just Two Chicks said...

In order to tell you how I deal, I have to tell you this story. One day we were driving down the road and someone was riding my bumper bad. (We were in my Mini that we just traded in for THAT reason alone!)I looked at the wife and told her "If I could have one super power in the world, it would be to make people vanish off the face of the earth." She was horrified, so I tried to explain to her that it's perfect because it's not violent and I could just make horrible people go away... my quest for world peace :::ahem::: She didn't fall for that, but anyway.. SO, how I deal with situations such as this is by imagining myself losing control and the person vanishing... then I ask myself "Did this person really deserve to vanish?" Usually the answer is yes~~~~ ":)

Linda Pendleton said...

The chaos of life can get to us if we let it. I try to avoid those who put out negativity and I have not been watching much of the news lately. I've decided that the world moves on without my worry, so I concentrate on doing what I love to do. In my case, write, and laugh at the silly things my cat does... Laughter can be so healthy and takes away stress.

I am often reminded of the words of my spirit guide, Dr. Peebles: "Lighten up and don't take life so seriously."

and also the great words of Joseph Campbell, "Follow your bliss!"

Teresa - in the Middle Side of Life said...

I'm sure I've failed some teachable moments - some very recently - but I do try to put myself in the other person's shoes before I react to a situation. I don't always succeed and sometimes when I think what I said makes perfect sense, the other person will still misunderstand. I get to where I'm spinning my wheels in the situation so the best option is to back up and just agree to disagree. Hard to do if the other person has to say "just one more thing" to you. To be the bigger person, even though I'm tempted exceedingly to respond, I don't.

I love the "vanishing person" thought. I'd not wish them off the earth (because someone somewhere does love them), I'd just wish them in a different locale than where I am at the time.

Butternut Squash said...

Nancy, I'm sure you do much better than you let on. The fact that you make the effort at all is miles beyond most of us. Thanks for the smile! I'll keep it close and wear it often.

lakeviewer said...

Ah, life in the fast lane! You are entitled to feel flustered with all the changes you've gone through lately. Tell yourself, this stress will pass; this too will pass; things will slow down; my life will get easier.

Rob-bear said...

I think there are problems with both heat and attitude.

I've long since adopted the habit of taking back streets, and being out and about when there are fewer people around. (It's much less nerve-wracking.)

And I also understand that others feel a lot more stressed in their lives, so I give them the benefit of the doubt. That's easier on all of us.

Leah J. Utas said...

Since the thought slips out before I can get it, I let myself have it. Once it's out I tell myself I'm wrong.
Having and acknowledging it takes away its power and it's easier to reframe it afterward.

Eternally Distracted said...

At this precise moment I am holding myself back from going to jump on a colleagues head who is being an ass... I'm finding it difficult too ;0)

Judy said...

I have learned in 54 years that alone, I am weak, but when I connect with the “spirit”, I am strong. I use the word “spirit”, … since the word “God” can turn some people off.
But for me personally, “spirit” means a relationship with Jesus. Peace is abundant.

The Good Cook said...

Nancy,

I grew up in a very judgmental home. My mother ALWAYS had a comment about someone's appearance. Isn't she fat? Why is her hair like that? He has terrible acne.. and on and on and on. She never, ever commented on someone's talent or personality; so kind, so smart, so nice. Of course it carried over to her very own children; you're getting fat, you're too skinny, don't talk so loud, speak up, fix your hair, fix your makeup, why are you wearing that? etc..

Because of my mother my sisters and I have made a conscience effort every day of our lives to NOT judge people by their appearance and let me tell you it is HARD work. But every day I try. Thanks for the reminder that happiness, contentment and peace all come by our choice.

Today I choose to be kind, to not judge, to be grateful, to be peaceful.

DJan said...

In my youth I would get really upset about those things, but as I've grown older, I seem to have mellowed. Maybe it's a mindset, I don't know. But we all have enough teachable moments in our lives to practice, I'd say. The heat makes all kinds of things in our lives less bearable. But it will pass...

Nancy said...

Otin - Being able to laugh about things is a gift.

leilani - Well, you just made my day! :-)

Pat - It does me, too.

Just Two - LOL! I've had those thoughts...

Linda - You realize that time is moving right along - you don't want to waste it in negativity. We have only one life to live, and we choose how to think about it. It always brings to mind the people who are very wealthy but unhappy. And then those with nothing who are joyful.

Teresa - I like your point about just backing off and agreeing to disagree. I've been trying to do that more lately, too. Agreeably, hard when the other person needs to have the last word. LOL!

Butternut - Thanks, you are always generous.

lakeviewer - Okay. Breathing in and out. Life is going to get slower, easier, and that car that just cut me off is going to disappear... Just kidding! :-)

Rob-bear - Great point, Rob. You never know what others are going through during these difficult times. We were almost hit by a car that turned down our street yesterday as we were heading up it. I caught a glimpse of the lady driving and she looked positively out of it. Not sure if she was drunk or just incredibly sad, but something was wrong. It brought to mind how hard things are for many people right now. Thanks for the reminder.

Leah - I like that. Don't beat yourself up about it - just reframe it and move on. Good one, thanks.

Eternally - Read all these comments first ... LOL!

Judy - Good one. Connection to whatever you want to call it - the reminder that we are not alone in trying to be better people. We are part of a much bigger picture.

linda said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
linda said...

am working on "acceptance". This is a big challenge because it means letting go of wanting to change someone or something; accepting it just as it is.
I had an opportunity to apply acceptance. One of my friends decided she didn't want to be friends and for no apparent reason that would warrant such an action. I was very upset, then angry. And when I made a conscious decision to let go and adopt the attitude "it is what it is" I really and truly felt free.

Nancy said...

linda - I like that. Acceptance. It is what it is. Good one, and a great example. Thanks for sharing.

Whitney Lee said...

I was going through a negative period awhile back and my dad sent me some email about garbage trucks. I don't remember the story but I do remember the point which was that we have a choice about whose garbage we want to pick up and where we want to dump it. The message stuck with me.

When I get cut off in traffic or stuck around idiot drivers I try to remember why I drove like that the last time. Perhaps they've got a kid in the back seat that just threw up everywhere, or they're running late for that important neurologist's appointment. They could just be crummy drivers, but it makes me feel better to believe the former. I use similar thinking for long lines or other irritating moments. I've also discovered that I have a much deeper well of patience if I've gotten sleep and feel well. It's amazing how much difference that can make!

Nancy said...

Good Cook - I wonder how many of us are "programmed" to automatically see what is wrong with someone, instead of what is right. I agree, you have to make a conscious decision every. single .day. And it's hard!

DJan - Yes, thank goodness! :-)

Whitney - Love the garbage truck metaphor! I'll use that one, thanks! Also, I think you are absolutely right in realizing we all have those times when we do things that could be construed as thoughtless or rude, when in reality something is going on in our lives that has our full attention. My husband likes to say that most people are basically good and kind, but we all have our moments..

gayle said...

Know what you mean!

Natalie said...

To stay centred? Hmmm..... Remind myself that I am blessed,and try to only listen to the lovely voice within, and not buy into the dramas that myself and others create.

susan said...

I don't think we're supposed to control our thoughts so much as to just be aware of them as you've described. One thing I've done with some frequency during outings is to say to everyone who passes (in my mind and not out loud), 'You are forgiven'. It might not do anything for anyone else but it certainly makes me feel better.

Nancy said...

gayle - :-)

Natalie - You are a great example for the rest of us.

susan - I like that. Instead of reacting - voice your forgiveness. Wow. I'll have to try that.

ds said...

Well, I have begun learning Yoga, but it did me no good this afternoon as I careened down highways and byways in a huge rush to pick up the daughter (currently carless) after work and get her to an appointment an hour away. During rush hour. Which here spins the earth a little off its axis. Not good for the vocabulary. Not good for the blood pressure. Not good for anything. So why succumb?

If I ever figure that out, I'll let you know. In the meantime, breathe. I'm trying to...

Nancy said...

ds - Life can be tough sometimes - especially in a time crunch during rush hour. LoL - breathe, breathe...

Brenda said...

Hi Nancy,
I heard this great advise for dealing with all those who must be striving to irritate us, they do it so well! Look at the person and imagine a story that will explain the reason they feel the need to be a jerk. For example, the man who cut you off in the car just found out that his wife has cancer and he mind is elsewhere. The lady who is in front of you in line and taking forever has been in this same line 15 times and she was always called away before she made it to the counter. Or come up with funny stories to help yourself laugh at life's unpredictability!! It helps me be a little more understanding and less likely to blow my top.

Hilary said...

I'm more inclined to be thinking negatively about my own goofs so they're not as easy to dismiss as a fleeting encounter with someone else. It's a regular struggle to find that balance but making the decision to let it go and focus on the positive helps.

Reya Mellicker said...

Driving always puts me in a foul mood. Fortunately I don't often have to sit behind the wheel - thank god!

Those who are unrelentingly positive scare me, because life is not always positive. It's a spectrum of every kind of mood and emotion.

For me it's good enough to count my blessings, and otherwise to forgive myself for cursing as I drive across town to the supermarket.

Gratitude and forgiveness trump a positive attitude in my book. Always.

xx

Nancy said...

Brenda - Sage advice. It's all in how we frame it, right?

Hilary - I have a tendency to beat myself up for goofs, too. It does help to let it go and think positively - at least for me. I have to think through everything before I can do that, though.

Reya - I love that about you. You are easier on us humans. I agree that gratitude and forgiveness is better than a smile that may not be genuine. (What is really scary are those that are smiling, but you know they are really angry inside. I know someone like that.)

camerabanger said...

Driving seems to come up a lot.
Every few years I take a defensive driving class which is taught by a brilliant instructor. He is humorous but he can get very passionate, to the point where he actually cries recalling some particularly painful accident or a death. I always come away from his instruction with one lesson which I TRY to keep in my thoughts while driving. We are in the car-which is, for most of us, the single most dangerous activity we have-and our goal is simple. To get there-safely.
All the bad drivers. All the show-offs and hot-rodders are a test of our ability to keep the simple goal in mind. Get there!

Deborah said...

Nancy, it's just comforting to know that you're so human. You have always seemed so together, calm, accepting, on a higher plane so to speak! So you're normal. You get grumpy, frustrated, critical, negative...well, there would be something rather odd about you if you were never that way. I hardly believe that a harsh word or thought is your first line of defence (or attack) and am simply here to say you're just fine, in my book. A lovely person who struggles with stuff like all the rest.
The important thing is that you are aware, and you're always trying to the person you'd rather be. At least, this is my assumption, and I'm sure I'm right.

Others have advice for you, all of of it good. Mine is only this: doing/being your best is going to fluctuate depending on the day. youyourBeing your best. Give yourself a pat on the back.

Deborah said...

oops! Just ignore what's between 'the day.' and 'Being your best'

Deborah said...

aaagh...it's the heat! That should have read 'the day' and 'Give yourself'!

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Nancy said...

camerabanger -I think that simplifies the driving thing. Just get there! I agree that it is probably the singly most dangerous thing that most of us do on a daily basis, and with all of the distractions for drivers these days - this comment hit home. Thanks.

Deborah - You are very kind. Thank you for that. My family would laugh at the thought that I'm always calm. I am a very passionate person about most everything. So staying centered is a struggle for me. I find myself a work in progress, like most humans. And you are so right, my best fluctuates with the day and what is going on in it, but I do think you can become less reactive and more proactive when it comes to navigating the more irritating issues in life. Remembering to pat ourselves on the back is something that is so important to that goal. We really need to like and forgive ourselves before we can do the same for others. Thanks so much for the reminder.

California Girl said...

Meds.

Nancy said...

California - LOL!

Nancy said...

well, i dont stay centered at all. I am completely off balance all the time. Thats life. I try to be positive even with mean people. MOst of the time I can be unless they put my kids down or call me fat, then watch out.

ain't for city gals said...

After reding A New Earth by Echert Tolle (sp?) I realized that not much matters after all...every thing we think and say is pretty much our own ego gettting in the way and who really cares anyway...makes life much easier ...