Perth has had a long, hot summer. I am talking frequent 38C days so then stick yourself in a car without aircon and it’s hotter. Add a grouchy toddler and it’s worse. All these factors added to my glee when, the other day, I found the only car park in the southern hemisphere. I was beyond excited but as I was pulling in to claim my prize I saw exactly why it was the only spot left.
The next-door car was parked excruciatingly badly. It would have taken a fair amount of talent to park so catastrophically. The car managed to diagonally touch three different spaces and it’s big rectangular butt was jutting into my future spot.
Not in the best mood I started huffing and puffing. How inconsiderate! I bet she was on her mobile when she parked… doesn’t have kids to worry about… is an inconsiderate fascist? Actually… I bet she did it just to spite me. Bitch.
Seriously – the judgements that were flying out of my brain were spectacular in both ridiculousness and density.
I somehow managed to squeeze into the parking space. Just. Then I huffed and I puffed some more as I shimmied my daughter out of her car seat, feeling angrier and hotter by the second.
Finally – we were free.
I gave the car one final filthy look and stomped away.
Halfway towards the shop though I turned back. I was going to leave a note damnammit. This was not fair! This was not right. Then I realised how pedantic and ridiculous I was being getting so fired up about a parking space. I imagined my friend telling me the story and me replying with “First World Problems”. And indeed it was. So I tried to drop it and went along with my chores. Thought I admit that I did feel slightly snappier on my travels.
Then, it was time to leave. I was trudging up the hill, the carpark was almost empty and there was my noble steed, sitting on its lonesome. No cars on either side. And then I saw it. I looked like the worst parker in the world. My car sat diagonally across the lines. My butt jutting out into the next cars space. And worse – I had a ticket?
As I snatched the crumpled piece of paper from under my windscreen wiper…
“Nice park, arsehole!”
And there it was. The reminder I needed that expectations suck. That they are pointless. That they are often misjudged and ill-informed.
Expectations are entirely dependent on contexts that you are not always privy to. [click here to tweet this]
Then I thought about the person that wrote that note. I thought about them getting hot and angry. Walking off to the shops then doubling back because they just couldn’t let it go. I thought about them walking around the shops in a slightly worse mood for it. I thought about the role I played in their bad day and the collective bad chi floating around the world.
And I felt really silly.
A wise man once said that “expectations are premeditated resentments”. And I believe that to be true.
As I drove home I thought about other times it had happened like the time I was chatting with a friend at the beach and – yes, we were perving on a girl. She had the most deliciously round bum. She was wearing a g-string bikini and I (being a curvy lass myself) was uber impressed by the way that she put it all out there. Then she stood up to walk away and saw my friend and I whispering away, gave us a filthy look and walked away with a decidedly less zingy posture than before. I can totally imagine being that girl and assuming that we were bitching about her. I almost followed her to let her know the real situation but figured it might be a tad creepy.
Or the time I sheepishly explained to the lady who was staring at my one week post-baby belly that “Yes… I had put on a lot of weight in the pregnancy and it was because of…”. She cut in to explain that she was admiring my engagement ring (which of course was crossed over my belly for Self-Conscious Body Language 101).
Putting it simply – judgement is crap and doesn’t serve anyone.
But there is one simple solution!
The more I thought, the more I realised that you can choose the way you view the world. If you approach every decision you make with a bit of loving faith and a whole lotta empathy you can change your life.
So if you are feeling that you need to stop judging people then try looking through this vignette instead…
Always imagine that people have a reason of doing what they are doing and approach them with kindness and understanding.
I am not talking about making people victims, but I am saying to choose to believe in the good in people. Some examples…
INSTEAD OF… That bastard just cut in front of me. What a shit driver!
CHOOSE… That driver might be rushing to the hospital to be with his wife in labour.
INSTEAD OF… My boss is being horrible today; they are trying to make my life hell.
CHOOSE… My boss is being horrible today; they must be going through something in their own life. I will be extra nice today to try and help.
INSTEAD OF… That checkout person was really rude, if you are in customer service you need to be nicer than that!
CHOOSE… That checkout person was really rude, I wonder if they just had a nasty customer before me. I’ll be super nice.
And so on.
And yes, this way of thinking does mean that you are going to occasionally give some genuinely mean-spirited and inconsiderate people free passes – and you might sometimes get stung. But wouldn’t you prefer to err on the side of kindness? [click here to tweet this]
Make the formal decision to pour love over everything instead of hate. It will honestly change your life.
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What about you – What is your happiness trick? Do you have something that you remind yourself when the anger sharks are swimming? Would LOVE to hear in the comments!