Waiting in Line, Death and Perspective

I ATTENDED THE FUNERAL of a young woman from my neighborhood today. She was only in her thirties and had six young children. Without fail, such events cause me to put things into perspective. My small battles with discomfort, injustice, frustration and hardships are, in fact, usually not worth the attention that they receive. A positive attitude and appreciation for the day-to-day ups and downs on this wonderful ride through life is more often warranted.

How often do we engage in micro-conflict each day – frustration at other drivers’ behavior, annoyance at a 20-minute wait in a line, anger at an oversight with our reservation or a blue steak when we requested that it be rare? Yes, things can be done better – almost always. Sometimes people get it right and create wonderful experiences for us along the way. Unfortunately, we use these great experiences as measures by which to judge every other experience in our life. As a result, we are continually let down, dissatisfied and left wanting. True contentment, real satisfaction and ultimate happiness will only be maintained if it is derived from within ourselves. Over-reliance on external influences on our attitudes will continually cause dissatisfaction and upset along the way.

To go through life demanding the best is not necessarily a noble pursuit. Situationally, it might get you more attention, lower prices, quicker service and better value – but it won’t make you happier. When I was GM of a hotel in Ireland, I often came across people who spent their holiday chasing the high of their best vacation, measuring their intake each day upon past experiences. “The steak at Mir a Mar was much betterâ€?, “The room at the Hilton was far biggerâ€?, “The service last year was definitely quicker.â€? Meanwhile, other guests would spend their time laughing and enjoying themselves, even when the drink order was mixed up or the day-tour was overbooked. Who would you rather spend your time with? Who would you rather be?

It is important to communicate great/poor service and good/bad experiences to those who are providing it. Most service providers want you to. That is how they improve. But you don’t have to yell. You don’t have to sue. You don’t have to feign catastrophe every time. Think of the young mother who left her six children behind today. Put your small battles, discomforts, injustices and hardships into perspective and enjoy life’s ups and downs along the way.

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