There was a time in my life when I thought I could handle anything and everything. I didn’t need sleep, I didn’t need to eat well, and I could deal with any amount of stress necessary to get the job done and care for my family. I’ve never had occasion to drink, smoke or do drugs so I felt pretty comfortable that my health would never be an issue.
However, life changes happen to everyone. I experienced several major change events within a short period of time and the consequences took their toll. I totally lost my eyesight. A specialist told me that had it been an accident or a disease he could give me an idea of when my sight would return and to what degree. However, due to the fact that it was a result of stress, he could do neither. Thankfully, my sight slowly returned within two weeks but resulted in my having to wear trifocals ever since.
My specialist explained that the loss of sight was a warning that I must examine my lifestyle and make some radical changes. The next warning could easily be a brain aneurysm, stroke or heart attack. He was very convincing, and I immediately made the necessary changes.
One of the major changes I made dealt with how I viewed circumstances. Prior to the sight loss, I was very impatient. I struggled waiting for a traffic light to change, a slow driver in front of me, a commercial to end so a program could resume … even waiting for someone to finish a sentence. Watching a train pass in front of me at four miles an hour was almost unbearable.
While impatience was only one of the challenges I had to deal with, it was indeed significant. However, after a little research, all it took was a re-frame in my thinking process. I can’t believe the difference it’s made in my life!
Now, when I get ten miles from home and realize I’ve forgotten my license or plane tickets, I don’t panic and allow stress to take over. If I’m caught by a long, slow train, I deal with it by enjoying the music from my radio or glancing at the newspaper headlines while I patiently wait. All it took to make that change was to change my thinking. I realize I can’t speed up the train, and I now feel that things happen for a reason. Maybe catching the train saved me from a traffic ticket five miles down the road or, worse yet, a serious car accident I may have been involved in. That may sound silly to some but that’s okay. I have since many times found this new way of thinking to be validated quite often.
Let me share a documented example. During the deadly 9-11 terrorist assault on the twin towers in New York, thousands lost their lives. However, many who would have normally been in one of the towers that morning weren’t there on 9-11. Review the simple reasons that saved their lives from a tragic end and consider the fact that many things happen for a reason.
- One woman was late because her alarm clock didn’t go off on time. That had never happened to her before.
- One company CEO survived because his son started kindergarten that morning.
- Another man was alive because it was his turn to bring donuts so he was delayed in arriving at work.
- Another was late because of being stuck on the NJ Turnpike because of an auto accident and his life was spared.
- One missed his bus.
- One spilled food on her clothes and had to take time to change.
- One’s car wouldn’t start.
- One went back to answer the telephone.
- One had a child that dawdled and didn’t get ready as soon as he should have.
- One couldn’t get a taxi.
- One that really struck me was the man who put on a new pair of shoes that morning. Before he got to the Towers he developed a blister on his foot. He stopped at a drugstore to buy a Band-Aid. That’s why he is alive today!
Do you think by the end of that fateful day any one of those people were upset that those unexpected interruptions took place that day? …or do you think they might think those things happened for a reason?
Now when I’m stuck in traffic, miss an elevator, turn back to answer a ringing telephone … all the little things that used to annoy me tremendously, I think to myself, this is exactly where I’m supposed to be at this very moment.
So the next time your morning seems to be going wrong, the children are slow getting dressed, you can’t seem to find the car keys, you hit every traffic light, don’t get mad or frustrated. Pause, relax, re-frame, and enjoy.
About Harry K. Jones
Harry K. Jones is a motivational speaker and consultant for AchieveMax®, Inc., a company of professional speakers who provide custom-designed seminars, keynote presentations, and consulting services. Harry's top requested topics include change management, customer service, creativity, employee retention, goal setting, leadership, stress management, teamwork, and time management. For more information on Harry's presentations, please call 800-886-2629 or fill out our contact form.
Chilling examples but this change in thinking sounds like it’s worth a try. It should reduce my self-induced stress. I’m going to try it. Thanks.
That’s actualy too crazy to be coincidence. I remember reading about those incidences shortly after the attack but have since forgotten them. Gives you a whole new appreciation of life. Maybe we should all be reminded weekly.
Your belief that you were at one time indestructible struck a familiar cord with me as I have experienced the same feelings. Workaholic? More than likely. I have since backed off and did so, thankfully, without having experienced a tramatic situation such as losing my eyesite. You were fortunate to have recovered. Your new take on gaining patience is admirable and your 9-11 examples should well serve anyone who takes the time to read them and dwell on the consequences. We should all share those examples with friends and family as you did with us. Thank you for doing so.
Where in the world do you find all of the information you share on this site! We never know what to expect but this one causes one to pause for deep thought. Congrats.
Those New Yorkers you mentioned must have been stunned beyond belief for weeks following the deadly 9-11 terrorist attack. I’m sure their personal philosophies have been changed forever. There is a lesson there for all of us.