“There is a beautiful and an ugly way in which to say almost everything, and happiness depends upon which way we take.”
– Delia L. Porter author and wife of Frank C Porter Yale Theology Professor
How we respond to someone’s words depends on how we take them. As Delia reminds us almost everything can be interpreted as positive or negative. Think about the phrase “take offense.” When someone says something, we don’t like or disagree with we often respond with “I take offense to that.” Or “You offended me!” What if we took a different approach? What if we took the stance that everyone is doing the best they can at that moment in time given the resources they have, their background, their experience? We can’t change what someone says but we can change how we respond. We can make the choice to let the words roll off use like the proverbial water off a duck’s back. Avoid the negative and search for the positive instead. As a write this the COVID-19 virus is running rampant around the world. Many people are on edge, worried, and afraid.
Late last week my husband and I were in a local grocery store. The lines were long and the cashier in our lane was new. It appeared he didn’t have much training and was uncertain how to do a certain process the customer’s check. The customer ahead of us handed the young man a blank check. He looked at it and handed it back to the customer. The customer pointed at a machine that will print the details on the check. The young man was still confused. Fortunately, a manager came over and showed the young man how to process the check. The man behind us was becoming more and more impatient. I could hear him making comments under his breath. (Taking the ugly way.) You could tell he was frustrated because the cashier didn’t have the knowledge needed at that moment in time. The couple in front of us was taking the beautiful way. They were patient and kind to the young man.
What I’ve come to realize is that in every moment we have a choice. We can respond with gentleness and kindness or we can get upset and angry. Most of the time when we let things annoy us the only person we hurt is our self. It is our own blood pressure that rises and cortisol and adrenaline course through our veins. The longer we stay in this state of upset the harder it is to recover. Begin to practice taking the beautiful choice and see what changes in your life.