“Please do not consume nuts on this flight, as we have someone with a severe allergy onboard”.
“URGGH, I brought nuts for my snack! Just great, I guess I have to go hungry!!” said the stranger next to me. I didn’t know what to say, having just come from a 6 Day Life Changing event that taught me to find the gratitude in the moment. Breathe. I replied “Nut allergies are pretty serious. I’m so grateful I don’t have to worry about those things when I travel”.
She was unimpressed and turned away.
Let’s rewind a little. It’s 11:00AM in Fort Lauderdale. My flight with United Airlines has been delayed by 3 hours, meaning I won’t make my connecting flight in Newark to get me home to St. John’s, NL. They couldn’t get me on an earlier flight, they couldn’t re-route me anyway that would get me home that night, as scheduled. I could potentially be up to 48 hours trying to get home. It was impossible. I realized that was her reality, not mine. My goal was to get home. As my friend was checking in for her flight with WestJet to Toronto onto St. John’s, I asked her to check if there was any free seats. There was. We went online and booked my tickets and 60 minutes later I was buckling my seatbelt, the last person to board!
The reality we live in is in direct proportion to the thoughts we have that we BELIEVE. Their reality was it was impossible. My reality was, there was always a way. If I believed there was no way and engaged in anger with United, needing to be right, I would have been justified in that anger, but I would have ruined my day. I would overlooked the other options available to me if I had to be right in this. There are just some things we can’t control… and air traffic control is one of those 🙂 Instead, I chose to focus on what I could be avoiding by not being on that flight. Who knows what I was avoiding… an accident by not being in a certain time or place, perhaps? I will never know the reason, perhaps there isn’t one, but I chose in the moment to be grateful for the fact that I had the option of purchasing another ticket and will have a credit to use in the future.
As I was in line at the Westjet Counter to get my boarding pass , they called any for anyone on my flight as they needed to get us through. As I approached the counter, an older man pushed me out of the way angrily, saying his 4PM (5 hours away) was cancelled and that he wasn’t tolerating it and he wasn’t letting anyone go ahead of him until he was sorted out. It was “impossible” of course, and he walked away fuming with anger (there were 6 other flights going to Canada but he couldn’t see outside of his anger that his direct flight was cancelled). As I approached the counter, a girl rushed in front of me stating she going to miss her flight. I thought to myself, sheesh, If I miss this flight, I was really meant to stay here!!
I made my flight and low and behold the person seated next to me was the girl who pushed me out of the way. Her eyes widened as I took my seat next to her. I saw her recognition and I know that’s why she was so angry when I commented about gratitude about not having nut allergies… because of our last encounter a mere 40 minutes before. As she turned away from me she said “my shitty day just got worse, now I have nothing to eat”.
As I thought on what had unfolded in front of me this morning, I gave thanks for meeting this woman and the man in front of me, and the United Flight being rescheduled. Because it gave me an opportunity to meet my former self. I felt compassion for her, because I used to be her. 3 years ago I would have completely lost my mind over my cancelled flight, being pissed off, taking it out on the ticket agent and in the end having to put up with the cancellation but fuming about it for days.
My happiness used to be really cheap, given up for the slightest of irritants – someone driving slow, drive thru taking too long, someone chewing gum too loudly, slow cell service… you name it, I was irritated by it. I’ve been on a journey of self discovery for a few years now and have been practicing gratitude, but this past week at the Tony Robbins Date with Destiny event, I got what it truly means to practice this in every moment… what can I be grateful for now, in this moment? How cheap is my happiness? What will I give it up for? I am not perfect and the best part is I no longer want to be… I know I will have moments and days where I am challenged, but practising gratitude in every moment will allow me to get better at finding the silver lining in every moment. I mean, most things that ruin my day and give others a bad experience with me is minor crap… it’s not life or death, yet I continually chose to give up my happiness in those moments.
And so I gave thanks for my experience with her, with the whole situation as I saw that it was an encounter with my former self. “Every life is a warning or an example“-Tony Robbins. And this was a profound reminder that my life is mine alone to make happy or make miserable. Suffering is simply how we choose to interpret our thoughts, what we make those mean. We all know someone who is remarkably happy despite living very challenging circumstances and we all know someone who has everything and is miserable… why? Because of how they it, it’s what they choose to focus on and believe in.
I have decided that my life will be an example, not a warning. And I ask you now, what will your life be? How cheap is your happiness? What will you give it up for? Will you continue to blame outside circumstances for your current life conditions or will you focus on what you can find good in the moment? We all have a choice, every moment of every day. We can’t control the events that happen, but we can control how we react to them.
Thank you, Tony Robbins, for what you do in the world, it truly is a life changing gift!