Attitude, May 2015

From the Publisher

“Our attitude towards others determines their attitude towards us.”
—Earl Nightingale

The older I get...correction. The wiser I get, the more I realize that life—interacting with people, problem solving, emotions, drama, all of it—is all in how you look at it. Often, a situation will arise that makes me mad at first, but once I simmer down and examine what’s fully going on, I see it in a different light. I think most of us do this. 

I ran across a quote by Dr. Wayne Dyer that spoke to my soul: “See the light in others and treat them as if that is all you see.” I loved it so much I posted it to my Facebook timeline in order to spread this advice. Then I went back to my daily life.

A few days later, in interacting with a friend, I realized I was not heeding the advice I was sharing. It wasn’t my insight that made me realize my actions. Unfortunately, I was thinking only of myself. It was a page in the book Traveling Light by Max Lucado that woke me up and brought me to consciousness. 

I am going through a lot of changes right now—mostly good, but nonetheless it is change. With change comes uncertainty, insecurity, unanswered questions and impatience. It’s hard to sit with these things and be content. I want certainty, security and answers. Don’t we all?

However, the fact is whether we are going through change or not, nothing is a sure thing. Life has no guarantees. Things that we think are solid can change in a blink of an eye. It’s not in our control.

Oh mercy, I hope I’m not freaking out the control freaks out there, but I have news for you: No matter how hard you work to control every thing and everyone, you are not in control. You know what they say, Life’s a beach and Ship happens! And, it happens to all of us. No one is safe from the ship! (You get my point.)

So in my impatience, as I’m looking for answers and certainty and some semblance of sanity, I tend to push people. If I can’t produce the answers, somebody needs to. I did this to a friend recently in looking for a nice neat package of sureness, which they did not offer up. Frantic, I pressed more to no avail. That night is when I happened to pick up Lucado’s book.

By page 23, I had learned a life lesson, been put in my place and was moved to write an apology. My written apology went something like this:

I owe you an apology. I am too impatient. I want answers from everyone, when I don’t know them myself. I fail to include God. In a time of my life when everything is uncertain, I burden others for certainty. I try to fix my life when I need to just live my life. I give advice but don’t heed it. I’m sorry. I am a work in progress.

It’s so important to understand how unrealistic expectations can burden others. Lucado talks about how a golfer lost a major tournament on the 18th hole because he was too stubborn in trying to make the green from an impossible lie, instead of just laying up. He was seven strokes in the lead and lost the tournament on this one hole. His point is we take this same blind stubbornness and apply it to our lives because we want to do things our way, sometimes without thought of what others want or need. Lucado says, “All I needed to do was apologize, but I had to argue. All I had to do was listen, but I had to open my big mouth. All I needed to do was be patient, but I had to take control.”

We all are a work in progress, but progress is the key. Without progress we cannot even see the light in others. I think it goes back to the Golden Rule my mother recited to me over and over again: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. This rule doesn’t just apply on the playground; it applies to every interaction with every person—including the bad driver in front of you, the slow cashier with an attitude and the sassy mouthed student. 

I am opening my eyes to my actions and interactions and how they impact others. It makes a difference in how I deal with both positive and negative situations—I think for the better. My hope is that I will always be a work in progress so I can continue to grow. I don’t plan to ever figure it all out. No one ever has. It’s about choosing better over bitter. Thinking positive instead of negative. Seeing the light in others. Seeing the light in yourself. Allowing yourself to be wrong. Saying you’re sorry and truly living life…instead of fixing life. 

All I had to do was apologize…and I did. All I had to do was listen…and I did. All I needed to do is be patient…and I’m trying. I’m giving it a shot. Won’t you, too?

Think Pink, 
Elizabeth Millen