Do what you can to show you care about other people, and you will make our world a better place.
We all have a bad day now and then and we all have felt like we have faced injustice at some point or another in our life whether it’s a minor, small matter to a larger more significant matter of importance. Each of us comes from different walks of life, different cultures, different races and different countries. This is a good thing! Together, we create balance and harmony within the universe. We all carry uniqueness about our existence in this world and in this lifetime. I have had the fortune to travel internationally and experience the richness of different countries, continents, cultures and traditions. Additionally, I have also had the fortune to live and travel in several, very different parts of the United States ranging from the North, Midwest, West, South and East. What is my point? You may be asking yourself?
Having had the fortune of experiencing so many other wonderful places with vast variety has broadened my awareness about how we live as a society as a whole. We live in a world with many issues and depending on where we were born, raised or grew-up; it really shapes our values and our beliefs. This is the core of what separates us when we mix our groups together. I live in South Florida; Miami is one of the most over-crowded cities in the United States. It’s a melting pot of many different belief structures and cultures. No matter what belief value you hold, living in Miami and being overcrowded, brings the energy of the “ME FIRST” mentality. For example, sitting in stuck traffic for hours in an overcrowded city can really bring a person to feel anger and impatience quickly! This impatience can easily mold into a person’s everyday behavior becoming their overall belief system (no matter where they’re from). This belief falsely defines for us that it’s socially acceptable to be impatient so the mind says to keep believing it. Good old road rage can’t escape any town or culture! I see it every day, people in a hurry to drive nowhere when traffic is stuck! Being impatient seems to have caught on, in massive quantities, as the necessary means that contributes to anyone not enjoying a peaceful car ride home. Instead of getting upset and impatient, screaming at the person who just cut you off, don’t stress over it! Feel sorry that the person had to almost cause an accident by quickly sneaking in front of you, without concern for anyone but themselves! We should just let the person in, move forward slowly in our vehicle and don’t worry about it. Just put on some easy listening music to keep your nerves calm and prepare yourself that traffic is always going to be a burden and you must deal with it every day if you choose to live in an over-crowded city. We have the choice to move to a more secluded city with less traffic. Therefore, don’t become a victim of your surroundings. I know this is easier said than done but its food for thought and we should all make a conscious effort to make our environment more pleasant no matter what the conditions or circumstances. I know you may be thinking I’m only one person and there’s no way I can help create change in a city that’s over 2.5 Million people. This is the mindset as to why things don’t change. It seems easier to not try! STOP thinking that! Imagine, if even 10% of the 2.5 Million people living in Miami decided to change their thinking that caused their belief on impatience with driving and how that would begin to affect the entire population? That’s 250,000 people! It starts with one, YOU! Your “one person” contribution of change influences your neighbors which influence your community and eventually affects neighboring communities which begin to promote change world-wide! I know it sounds impossible but is it? Change happens every day and we tend to only see the negative, not the positive! God did not create a land of confusion, we created it as people! We are self-centered, self-serving and do not have overall consideration of others. We blame it on everyone, everything and every circumstance we can but ourselves. This mind-set is the problem and we must change it! We avoid looking at ourselves! We most certainly contribute to the mannerisms of the world as it is today! I have met many, numerous, wonderful people who are trying hard to help make change happen. It’s a message we all must try to convey as well as truly believe deep down within our core that we can make the world a better place for us all, not just for our own convenience of how we can serve ourselves.
Let me use a small example of myself. When I go to the store, it’s always the same negative experience. I willingly choose to live in this city so I have to accept the way things are for now. However, I still choose to try to make a difference on the impact I have on others every time I go. I always dread the parking lots of stores as it sometimes proves more difficult than being inside the store fighting the crowds. People always park their cars way too close to other cars and seemingly have no concern if they bang their doors into another car. In addition, they do not consider parking their car straight in the parking spot; they just swing in the spot crooked and slightly out of the lines, making it difficult for the car next to them to back out. People also cut you off to steal a parking space because it would most certainly kill them to park just a few spots down or in the next row! This is why I always pass up all the open spots up front and park in the back to try to avoid this confusion. This parking approach doesn’t always work as you will see from my example later.
After parking, as I walk in the store, there are usually a dozen people or so trying to get out of the door at the same time when I and others are trying to enter. Instead of forming a single line so it can be flowing for both sides to enter and exit, everyone has the “Me First” mentality. I always try to politely wait and always say, “Thank you” if someone does decide to let me go first (a rarity), but in any case, I always make a point to acknowledge their kindness. It is rare that anyone says a “Thank you” to me if I let them go first. However, I have adopted the Golden Rule mentality (even though it can be very challenging at times), “Do unto others as you wish them to do unto you.” If they do not, it’s okay, I don’t let their negative behavior stop me from doing what I feel is right. It can be discouraging at times but I tell myself, I only have to live with my actions, not the actions of others.
Unfortunately, we do not live in the “Leave it to Beaver” community of the 1950’s anymore, where it seemed people were a little kinder and sincere. Unfortunately, I have encountered more than my fair share of people who have an “entitlement” attitude when it comes to living in an over-crowded community, where we all should share and be giving and not be so GREEDY! I admit I have had my share of days when I had enough of people pushing and shoving me in stores. It’s a big pet peeve of mine. It never fails, every time I shop, someone always creeps up beside me and peeks over my shoulder or nudges me as I’m looking at a display of products. They lean over top of me to grab their selection instead of waiting one second for me to make mine. I have yet to hear someone say, “Excuse me” or “Pardon me” as they reach over me. It has disturbingly become a customary and standard mannerism that people brush up against you; reach over you to grab their selection while you are standing right there! People are in too much of a hurry these days instead of waiting just a moment for you to move. We have long forgotten manors and it’s quite unsettling that more and more people are becoming accepting of these disturbing behaviors. It seems people have either forgotten or never been taught tiny mannerisms like waiting patiently, being polite or saying, “Thank You” when someone does something nice. When people are polite to you consider how that goes a long way in your mind! It makes a statement that you refuse to give in to the masses that are in a hurry (to go nowhere) and seemingly feel no concern for others by exerting rudeness. It doesn’t hurt us to think about that on a daily basis when we maneuver in society and everyday situations. It may not be sexy in today’s standards to adopt an “old school” philosophy on mannerisms but when it comes down to it, wouldn’t you tend to be more positive when others are more respectful and positive toward you?
Getting back to my parking lot example, as I was walking out of the store and as I pushed my shopping cart out to my car, I noticed there were plenty of open parking spaces. As I always do and mentioned above, I parked farthest away from the entrance. Sure enough, I noticed a LARGE van that pulled in right next to me where I could not even walk between my car and theirs to place my purchases in my trunk. Interestingly enough, as I was surveying the situation and walking far out-of-the-way to get to the trunk of my car, the lady that parked next to me saw me looking at the narrow gap. As I glanced over and noticed her, notice me, she gave me a dirty look and tried to quickly get into her car. Just in that moment, as a sidebar, I realized as I was checking out just a few seconds earlier, she was the lady that also stole my cart in the store. She knew she parked way too close to me and stole my cart. She also knew she could have parked a little better and made more room for BOTH of us but NO, she decided to park at her convenience. I realized getting angry would not make the situation different so I decided to speak to her nicely, instead of ignoring it or yelling. Most people would probably lose their temper and scream, as that seems to be the accepted “Norm” in our society these days! NO — I decided to be polite, even though it seemed my ears were ready to pop open with a steam of anger. I couldn’t even open my driver side door to get in my car and there was a parking lot full of open spaces! You can image, even though minor, how upsetting that can be. However, I said to her nicely, “Looks pretty tight there, I’d be happy to move my car so you can get into yours?” She nervously laughed quietly and said, “These spaces are just too small.” In other words, instead of losing my temper over something really small and minor, I redirected my own energy and was polite anyway, addressing her in a positive way where she relaxed her defensiveness and acknowledged that she parked too close. She didn’t admit fault but she at least acknowledged it was too tight of space and with my approach, it allowed her to save face. No damage was done, but in the end, it’s really not worth it to lose our temper, or lose our faith in living peaceful or our willingness to sacrifice our confidence (in a situation that makes us so angry we can’t think straight). It’s important that we take these small, minor lessons and turn them around. The Dalai Lama says it best:
“With realization of one’s own potential and self-confidence in one’s ability, one can build a better world.”
As she pulled out and I got into my car to head home, I turned on the radio and the song, “Land of Confusion” By Genesis came on. I laughed so hard to myself. The lyrics of that song may have a different connotative meaning but it spoke directly to how I felt right in that very moment.
“Too many men, there’s too many people, Making too many problems, And not much love to go round, Can’t you see, this is a land of confusion? Now this is the world we live in, And these are the hands we’re given, Use them and let’s start trying, To make it a place worth living in.” ~Genesis
The bottom line is, don’t contribute to the negative circumstances of the world, it’s easy to do but try to see past the little things that are upsetting even when you feel you can’t. There are always going to be small-minded people who don’t believe in the values that you believe in and there are also going to be people who hold higher values than you believe in. Let’s model after those that are better than us so we can become better ourselves. The point is that we need to keep striving to be a better person inside so we can help shape and create a community we all really long to live in. After all, isn’t it better to contribute for the greater good of all and not just ourselves?
Here are some quick tips to help you deal with small situations:
1) Always try to stay calm, don’t let your anger get the best of you. You can’t think straight under anger and you can’t hold compassion or understanding of a situation under anger. Anger breeds more anger! You don’t like it when others are angry with you so use that as your guide!
2) Look beyond just yourself and how you feel, what is the entire situation? Use the chance you’re given to make a difference in any situation!
3) Consider the larger circumstances that contribute to the smaller ones? Like road rage in an overcrowded city.
4) Put yourself in someone else’s shoes! How would you feel if the role was reversed?
5) Don’t hold a victim mentality and feel defeated. Like saying “Thank you” and getting nothing back. That’s okay, do it anyway, do it for you! Expect nothing and you won’t be disappointed!
6) Remember others can’t always think outside the box, you are the teacher that must show them how with example! Consider when others show you how by example and how the light bulb “clicks on!”
7) Don’t take things personally, even if it seems they are! Brush it off!
8) ALWAYS remain true to being yourself in tough situations, keep a positive mind-set when things seem against you!
9) Counteract a negative thought with a positive one quickly! Move past the negativity fast! Don’t hold it in, release it and get on with your day!
10) Don’t allow one bad incident ruin your entire day! It’s your life, it’s your attitude, and it’s within your control!
11) Don’t be a contribution to an already negative environment, rise above it, do what’s right! Believe you can make a difference and live by your own values, not the ones that are becoming socially acceptable. Hold your ground and be who you want to be regardless if others don’t treat you the same!
12) Remember, in the end, it’s not what happens to you but how you react to a situation that matters!