Standing in a very, very long immigration line, the man in front of me complained, cursed and pouted. Yes, this grown adult, pouted like a toddler not getting his way…but he had a far more colorful vocabulary. As those near tried to distance themselves in creative ways with luggage barriers and his wife made a pained expression every time he sighed, huffed or said something, it hit me! (no pun intended) Negativity is like a fart. Everyone around can not stand the stench yet the person letting off the stench seems oblivious to how bad it really is.
Curiously, I started to observe everyone in line to see how they handled the wait. Some people were focused on entertaining their kids; a young group of tourist made plans and discussed different options; two girls compared photos and swapped files on their phones; I like a many were people watching and chatting about travel to those on either side of the rope dividers. Basically, people all around were making the time pass in ways that did not negatively impact themselves or others…no energy farts!
Then I watched how people acted around the visibly annoyed man. People turned away, pretended he was not there, made a physical little space with suitcases, and no one smiled or made eye contact. I watched his wife, at first she attempted to talk to him. He refused to let his annoyance go. He ignored the conversation attempts to continue complaining about how awful it was and how it should be done better. She stopped talking and just stood there in the equivalent of a “dutch oven” with no escape from the stench. It got worse when he accosted a man being escorted by in the disability lane. “Why do you get to skip this?” The man looked shocked and said reported his medical condition. The annoyed man actually said ‘lucky.’ Really?!?! I prefer to be healthy and wait in line!
We have all experienced unpleasant experiences and unpleasant people. We just need to remind ourselves, we can not change others, but we can change ourselves! We can choose to let a long line, a bad driver, an annoying telephone system, etc upset up or we can choose to see this as one small challenge in a whole day of good. Your choice will impact other either negatively or positively.
When we choose to see things with love, compassion, and empathy it shifts things. Frankly, sometimes I don’t even look at with the love, compassion of a wise guru…I make it more fun more like a kid playing a game! When I am stuck in a situation, I think “ooh! why am I here? Where is the magic?” I truly feel everything happens for a reason. Maybe it is to teach me patience, maybe there is someone in line I am supposed to meet, maybe I am here witness something and make up a very silly analogy about farts and negativity. When you start to look for the “why” it might be about love or compassion, it might be about experiencing something magical. Being present and non-judgemental about the situation is key to finding the magic.
When you are present, you observe all with every sense including your heart. After immigration, I arrived at my destination to enjoy an amazing, sunny, warm day. I texted a friend and said “The weather is amazing!!! I can not believe my luck!” their response “Just wait till tomorrow.” Yes, it was supposed to rain tomorrow but it was not a fact and it had not happened yet. Damn it! I was going to enjoy the day. It was all mine to explore, eat lunch in an outdoor café, and drink it all in, now! Tomorrow was another day and I could enjoy the rain just as much if it happens. My friend feels she is a realist. That is bullshit, she just is not overly happy with something in her life. The reality was it WAS A BEAUTIFUL DAY! Many negative people are intelligent and good people. They disguise their negativity by saying “I am just being realistic.” The man in line was probably a self-proclaimed realist, working on making his reality negative! They tend to judge others and are negative to new ideas or things that they would not do. They will call positive people “naive” or “stupid” or “Pollyannas.” You can make choices to be happy with yourself, see the magic in the world, and embrace the good while still being intelligent and realistic!
The wisest people I know realize negativity does not help anyone especially themselves. Did you know there are studies that show people make better decisions and score better on tests when they are content, happy or joyful? It is true! So when you are faced with a situation less than appealing make a choice to see it differently. When you encounter negative people just grab your imaginary gas mask and make a break for it!