Change Your Attitude, Change Your Environment

Driving home from the office after a long week and a very full day I found myself in bumper-to-bumper traffic, even before getting on the interstate. It was evident that I would be going nowhere fast….or somewhere very slow. Cars were jockeying for the imaginary fast lane and fantasy of launching ahead of everyone in front of them. My immediate future was very clear, and I found myself at the familiar crossroads of Frustration Street and Adjustment Avenue. The initial wave of aggravation had come and gone without too much lingering, and the realization of how beautiful the weather was had become increasingly noticeable. As I sat tapping my steering wheel to the music playing on the radio, I was reminded of Jerry Seinfeld’s standup routine where he talked about being stuck in traffic and being able to clearly look out the window and see gum on the road. A short chuckle and a look around, I noticed the anxious and frustrated movements of the drivers around me. Rolling down the windows, opening the sunroof, and playing the soundtrack from Les Miserables, I began to enjoy the cool breeze and the warmth of the sun while allowing the power of the musical to nourish my soul. I reached over and grabbed the leftover orange from lunch. Although I do not ever recommend peeling an orange while driving, I made the personal choice to do so, since my speedometer needle was moving as fast as I was…..(remember the gum). It is probably not a common experience to be stuck in traffic and be having a great time, but I had made the conscious choice to not let the environment change me but to change my attitude, which also fueled the transition in my perception of my environment. It is not nearly as hard to change our attitude as it is to be willing. Sometimes we wear our frustration as a privilege. Attempts to feel strong during times of powerlessness can often be misguided. Instead, I suggest that we are often most powerful in our feelings of helplessness by accepting our limitations and becoming proactive in what we can influence….our response. Viktor Frankl stated that when we cannot change our situation we are challenged to change ourselves.

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