You ready for a story? The day after my fiancée and I became engaged, we were driving back home in separate cars. We pulled off the highway and she navigated the traffic quicker than I due to my “grandpa” driving habits. I then became halted in stopped traffic with sirens up ahead in the distance.
I panicked. Is my fiancée hurt up there? I noticed that the far-right lane was moving while every other lane was stopped. In my fear, I cut off one of the moving vehicles so I could witness the reason for the sirens to see if my fiancée was hurt.
Turns out, I cut off a funeral procession. Oops. The person behind me honked and screamed after I cut them off and I now know why. This motorist and the onlookers viewed me as a jerk and I admit, what I did was a very low move. However, my point is that our culture needs to give strangers benefit of the doubt.
The phrase “to give somebody benefit of the doubt” is loosely said these days. Give yourself a moment to ponder the true meaning of this phrase. The Free Dictionary describes it this way: “to believe something good about someone, rather than something bad, when you have the possibility of doing either.”
People are wired to act in a way that’s natural and justified to them. I strongly believe that the majority of the world consists of good people. Of course, you need to be cautious and wary of the individuals who will take advantage of good people. However, before you judge, criticize, or get angry with someone, think to yourself, “I wonder what is going in that person’s life to do that.”
This mental habit is a lot easier said than practiced. However, as with any habit, you need to consciously practice small behaviors to shape your future self. Here are some tips to remember so that you can think better of the stranger that cuts you off.
Distance Yourself from Thoughts
Becoming aware, empathetic, and conscientious of human behavior decreases your overall stress. Think about the people you see on the roads, screaming at one another or even displaying types of sign language. Most of these people’s short fuses stem from numerous factors they experience in their daily lives. Family, work, emergency, or just a bad day can shoot up anyone’s stress.
- Instead of becoming engulfed in your assumptions about people, think of a time when you were misunderstood.
Chances are you justified your intentions in your mind yet people saw you as an inconsiderate jerk. Everyone has inconsiderate jerk moments, and yes, some more than others, but assuming the worst of people day-after-day will cause you to lose hope in humanity.
Rather than jumping to conclusions, slow down your thinking and reflect on your thoughts. Anger is replaced by becoming inquisitive while you’re analyzing the situation. This allows you to think better of the stranger rather than presume everyone is wired to negatively affect their surroundings.
Daily stresses, obligations, deadlines, crises, and mini-crises consume many people every day. The best way to escape these numerous priorities of life is to unplug. While sitting somewhere with nothing to do, zone out and let your mind wander. Prevent yourself from reaching for a smartphone.
- “Of course, nobody likes to be bored. But by abolishing any chance of being bored we have also lost the times we used to have to think and process.” ― Greg McKeown, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less.
Manage your mood, calm down, and set aside a time to do nothing. Give your mind time to think and then, here’s the trick: force your mind to think. Make a habit to give yourself fifteen minutes a day to do nothing but think.
Meditation works for many people, walks in the park works for others. Just find a way to unplug during your waking hours to let your mind process without distractions. A sense of peace, focus, and a clearer mind will leave you in a better state when a “short-fuse” situation occurs.
Ignore the Blinking Light
Did you notice, how I wrote, “waking hours” in the previous paragraph? Here’s another
healthy habit: turn your phone on airplane mode or even off while you sleep. I noticed a few months ago when my mind would be half-awake and I would look at the clock to see the time and then notice that blinking green light. Oh my goodness, an email! My mind triggered into productive mode and then I realized it was a promotion for a networking group. Dang it! Unimportant and now my sleep schedule is out of whack for the night.
Numerous studies encourage people to start their day with a healthy routine. A daily routine allows you to take control of your day. Responding to emails or social media alerts while in bed resembles the behavior of a hockey goalie. You’re blocking shots, handling obligations, and then wait for the next round of shots to come at you for your attention.
Set up your day by first establishing your priorities. What do you want to accomplish? Which tasks need your attention more than most? How are you bettering your overall psyche today? Think of these questions before you check your email and you’ll gain control over your mind for the day. You’ll notice that the person talking loudly on their phone in the coffee line isn’t as annoying.
Numerous times people let us down. The people in grocery lines, people in traffic, and the people closest to us. We often hold people to lofty expectations and are disappointed or frustrated when they don’t live up to our wishes.
- You only control two things: your attitude and your activity.
Practice kindness because wouldn’t you rather make a positive impact in somebody’s day than flipping them the bird? Trust me, I’m not perfect everyday but I try hard to manage my mood. And by trying, my behavior and my mindset has gradually shifted in recent years.
I leave you now with three quotes to encourage you to live your life unaffected by the inconsiderate people of the world.