People say that before you marry someone, you should see how they react to being stuck in traffic. Do they get angry? Do they take that anger out on you? Or do they try to make the best of it?
I’ve witnessed a variety of different reactions. I’ve seen people getting frustrated and choosing to sit in silence the rest of the trip, people getting angry to the point of hitting things, and people deciding not to let an annoying situation get to them.
When I get stuck in traffic, I choose to roll down all of my windows, blast my favorite hits from the 2000s, and sing at the top of my lungs. It helps pass the time, and other drivers and passengers in cars around me will sometimes even roll down their windows to sing along. When you and the people around you are in a good mood, the traffic situation doesn’t seem so bad.
So why don’t more people do it?
Making the best of bad situations is an art. Some people are naturals, but for others it takes years of practice before the anger no longer controls them. I’ve heard some say that they always expect the worst-case scenario so that they’re not disappointed no matter what happens, but that never seemed to work for me. I’ve always lived by one simple philosophy: If it’s not the best, make it better.
There are so many different aspects of life that we, as humans, have no control over. Whether it be traffic, the weather, or other people, there are some things that we just can’t change. So what do you do in situations like that?
Now this is easier said than done, but the first step is to change your attitude. Once you stop feeling to negatively about whatever situation you may be in, nothing seems impossible. The next step is to keep an open mind. Think not only of solutions, but also of things that make the situation seem okay, maybe even better than it was before. Start by thinking “Hey, it could be worse!” then moving onto “You know, this could actually be a good thing…” Every situation is manageable with the right attitude and an open mind.
For example, this past weekend I served as a peer mentor on a retreat for my college. The entire week was outdoors, but we kept getting hints of a rainstorm coming on. It was mostly just sprinkling, but on the second day, it began absolutely pouring. This almost seemed like the end of the world for those of us trying to organize activities. We all rushed into cabins and the dining hall soaking wet. After seeing people’s disappointment, my first thought was, “Hey, it could be worse. At least it didn’t storm at all yesterday”, and my second thought was “You know, I think we all need an hour to relax and drink some coffee anyway.” And that’s how the rest of our night went until the storm let up.
Because the people at the retreat (including myself) kept a positive attitude, we ended up having a great time despite the rain. This mindset can be used in any situation, and I believe that the world would be a much more beautiful place if more people lived by it.
So the next time you find yourself feeling angry or frustrated, remember that the first step in finding a solution is you.
“Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.” – Zig Ziglar