A while ago I had an interesting experience… that morning a friend had told me of an elderly neighbour who had been taken into hospital. As my journey that day took me past the hospital, I decided on the spur of the moment to visit. When I drove into the hospital grounds I was met by a queue for the car park. An attendant was talking to each driver in turn before they drove in and I patiently joined the queue. A car behind honked his horn at me and sped past. As I wound down my window the attendant commented on the horn honking driver and explained that the car park was full but if I waited in a particular area there would be likely spaces, as staff were due to change shifts. He asked if I had change for the parking meter and exchanged some coins for me. I thanked him, grateful that he was taking the trouble to help. A short while later, whilst I was still waiting to park, he approached my car and offered to find me a space “can I get in?” he asked climbing into the passenger seat and directing me out of the main car park and across to another area right outside the front of the hospital. He found me a space and told me I could park there as long as I needed to at no charge! When I asked him about his day it turned out that the car park had been chaos all morning – new lines were being painted and people had been in bad tempers all day. I don’t know what made him extend such kindness to me, I had merely smiled and thanked him for helping me.
This got me thinking and I realised that perhaps most people that day had been impatient, unhappy at queuing, irritated that there were insufficient spaces or by the painting, or just hadn’t taken a moment to say thankyou. Maybe people were worried about loved ones in the hospital or distracted by their own lives. Whatever the case, it seems that taking a moment to appreciate the carparking attendant and his efforts to help me were in turn appreciated by the attendant and he repaid me with further kindness.
The situation is not a unique, it often seems that the things we do send out a ripple that affects everything around us, as if the world is a mirror and reflects back what we send out.
The simplest examples are when we wake up feeling tired and grumpy, burn our toast, the car won’t start, there is a traffic jam on the way to work and every traffic light is red. Your grumpy mood gets grumpier and the day goes from bad to worse. On other days the world seems brighter, you feel good, things go well and everyone smiles at you. In this way our whole day can seem to be affected by our mood.
Viktor Frankl, a man who survived the Nazi concentration camps but lost his wife, parents and brother there, famously wrote:
- “Everything can be taken from a man or a woman but one thing: the last of human freedoms to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
- “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
We all have the power to choose our own attitude and our own response in any situation. We can therefore choose to be upset, angry or irritated or we can choose to be happy, grateful or loving in the same circumstances. If what we give out affects what we get back in return … and if we can choose our attitude, then we have huge scope to create a happier, more satisfying life, sending out those positive ripples and attracting more of that which we send out.
I realise that there are times when it can be very difficult to choose a positive attitude in response to a challenging event. However, there are techniques that I use with my clients to make this significantly easier and transform their lives. For more information or to find out if I could help you transform your life, please contact me.