Be Kind and Wave With All of Your Fingers
We have a couple of communities we’re working with right now that are on the verge of large road construction projects this summer. As their marketing partner, we’re helping them navigate a time in their community that will come with some natural frustration, unexpected delays, and unforeseen challenges. It’s a season where passions rise, one-finger waves become more common, and stress gets higher.
The messages these communities deliver during this season of inconvenience matter. Meeting with one of those clients today, we landed on a core element of those messages. Six letters… Two words… So simple it’s easy to look past…
Road construction resembles life in many ways. We encounter situations and people who frustrate us. We develop a plan, and then that plan meets unexpected delays. We think we know what’s around the next corner, but then we bump up against unforeseen challenges.
You don’t have to be on a highway in Minnesota this summer to experience those things. They just happen, and often, they “make” us angry. Or do they? Can anything “make” us angry, or do we choose anger?
The Greek Stoic philosopher Epictetus nails this for us. “Any person capable of angering you becomes your master; they can anger you only when you permit yourself to be disturbed by them.” His take on life is relatively simple… External events are beyond our control. They just happen. What we do control is how we react to those events and our ability to experience them calmly and without anger.
In the middle of the mess and stress, we get to choose how we react.
Be a jerk, or be kind?
Answering that can be easier said than done, especially during construction season. We get angry in traffic and give the drivers around us the one-finger wave. We don’t plan well for where we’re going to be driving, and when we arrive late, we blame other people. We get rerouted or detoured, and we’re sour to the people around us for the rest of the day. We take it out on the cashier at the store, our family and friends – even the dog.
So, we go back to the question.
Be a jerk, or be kind?
You get to choose.
Life is going to happen. We’re going to get frustrated, experience delays, and face challenges. As Epictetus would share, we don’t choose those things. What we can choose is whether or not we’re going to be kind in the middle of those things. This week, practice a little kindness. The world could use it, and it might just give you some back in return.
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