When I get upset about someone else’s inconsiderate behavior, like cutting me off on the highway or going to the “15 items or Less” aisle with a cartload full of groceries, I’m giving someone else power over me. I’m giving up my joy.
I know I need to be the gatekeeper of my joy and not give it up over silly stuff that’s out of my control.
It’s easier said than done
The other day I was at the grocery store. I was in a good mood. I’d just had a great visit with my sister, the music playing in the store was upbeat and happy, and my daughter had gotten engaged the day before.
I was in the parking lot putting my groceries in my car and I noticed a guy walking to the driver’s side of his truck. He looked at a piece of paper in his hand, probably a receipt, wadded it up, and tossed it on the ground. It didn’t even look like he thought about stuffing it in his pocket. He just tossed it on the ground.
I couldn’t believe it. In my mind, I was like, “You jerk! What the heck’s wrong with you?! Pick it up, loser!”
He didn’t look my way, but he must have felt me giving him the stink eye, because when he drove away, I was looking at him like, “You suck!” He kind of glanced my way while driving off.
I got in my car thinking, How can people do that? I mean, I understand when bits of paper get away from you or you drop something and litter without even knowing you’re littering, but to intentionally throw something to the ground?
He’s probably the kind of person who’d spit his chewed up gum out on the street so someone else can step right on it.
Seeing him throw his paper on the ground, intentionally littering, really got me mad. I went from happy and singing to just pissed off.
Stay on guard
But why was I so upset?
Was it just the audacity of the guy and his apparent attitude of “It’s not my problem. What do I care?”
I realized I was letting that guy spoil my good mood. I was letting him get the better of me.
And so I get back to the original idea about what I know. Don’t give away my joy. I was giving away my joy. To a stranger who litters. That’s just stupid.
What were my choices?
Confront him. Tell him to pick up his paper. (Parking lot rage)
Pick up the paper and throw it away myself.
Say a prayer for him.
Give him the evil eye.
Blow it off.
What did I do? Nothing helpful. I got in my car and drove away, still angry about what he did even though he was long gone.
I didn’t handle myself very well.
It reminded me that:
We make choices in all our interactions every day. What we say or do. How we react.
Each of us is the gatekeeper of our joy
Next time you let someone annoy and irritate you, remember that you’re handing over your joy. On a platter.
Then decide if it’s worth really that important to you.
Remember that you can’t make people do, think, or feel the way you do about things. The only person each of us can ever hope to control is ourselves.