A friend of mine had recently posted his frustrations about someone not thanking him for allowing them to merge into the traffic ahead of him. No wave, no thank you, they just moved on and into the flow of traffic. Have you been there? Have you found yourself more agitated these days, letting some of the simplest annoyances become major irritations?
Have we found ourselves dancing on a wire, a thread, and ready to snap? Probably more so than we would like to admit. I know that for myself I started noticing the little things. The small stuff was beginning to get to me. Yup, I was on edge and maybe even dancing on a wire.
What I appreciated most about my friend’s post was that he posed it as a question, asking people if they ever felt the same sense of being disrespected or under-appreciated when allowing other drivers to merge into traffic. My first response to his question was a simple, “Nope.” And then I thought about it more, placing myself as both the driver giving grace to another person and then as the person receiving the grace to merge into traffic. Would I be agitated and irritated? Would I be grateful and appreciative? How would I have demonstrated either?
As the driver who let the other person in, I would do so because it is the right thing to do to keep traffic moving safely. There have been times when it absolutely irritated me. Luckily, the wisdom of my grandfather and maturity has brought sense back to my nonsensical way of thinking and driving. His encouragement was to always offer grace in every aspect of life, and every aspect of life includes driving.
After thinking about the question posted by my friend, I commented on his original post with the questions my grandfather would have asked me if I was feeling under-appreciated: Have I given thanks to God 100% of the time for every gift and blessing in my life? My answer then and now would be, “No.”
Assessing the driving situation, he would’ve asked me if I might have missed a slight nod of the head or tip of the hat, or was I just looking for a hand gesture that would acknowledge appreciation? The good kind of gesture of course. The questions would continue: Was I close enough to hear the driver say to their passenger, “That sure was nice of that driver to let me in, I sure do appreciate them”? Is there a chance that the driver had an arm injury, or perhaps was missing an arm and needed to keep the only good hand on the steering wheel for safety? Have I ever been so wrapped up in a “hands-free” phone conversation or paying close attention to the GPS where I mumbled quietly or silently, “Thank you” instead of a wave of gratitude?
There are certainly enough things going on in our lives that are creating stress, and anxiety, and maybe even have us dancing on a wire. The best way to turn that wire or tightrope we are walking into solid footing is to respond instead of reacting to each small indiscretion. Respond with grace instead of feeling disrespected, insulted, or underappreciated. Respond the way that you would hope they would respond to you. This takes the heat off which in turn lowers our blood pressure, stress levels, and anxiety.
Doing what is right, because it’s the right thing to do, will always yield far more favorable results than allowing ourselves to be so easily offended by the words, actions, or the lack of both from those around us, and maybe especially as we are driving.
How about you? Are you dancing on a wire? Are the little annoyances becoming bigger irritations? Or have you found that the best way to find a more solid footing is by offering grace? I would love to hear your story at email@example.com, and when we can learn how to respond instead of reacting, it really will be a better than good year.
Michael Norton is the grateful CEO of Tramazing.com, a personal and professional coach, and a consultant, trainer, encourager and motivator to businesses of all sizes.
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