Last week, while putting along in our electric tricycle through a crowded
“How long will it be before we take it for granted again?" I asked Tiffany. "You know, before we forget to be patient and start complaining about less-than-important annoyances again?”
“Three weeks,” she replied.
Now, I’m sure she was just being facetious, though we were both maybe a little too excited to leave this aspect of
When I was on the plane, I was disappointed in China Air. I was hoping to have an individual screen to watch the programs I wanted (more airlines have upgraded to this service on Trans-Pacific flights). The plane was also old and dirty. The cheap China Air headphones flickered, making any radio or movie audio channel impossible to enjoy. My seat’s reclining button was broken, which increased the difficulty to sleep and caused a sore neck.
In these moments of despairing realizations, I remembered a Chinese phrase that I heard often in Tianjin (really an anthem of Chinese psyche): 没办法, which means pretty much “there’s nothing you can do about it, so don’t waste energy over it because it will only hurt you in the end.” This phrase helped me cope many annoying Chinese inconveniences before (like traffic, waiting in lines, personal space issues), and it helped me again this time. This phrase has made me stronger mentally, more patient and kind. It only takes an attitude adjustment! (and some practice)
However, as I stepped onto American soil (actually foreign-manufactured airport tile), it only took about three minutes before I caught myself falling back into old American attitudes. Behind me in the immigration checkpoint line were three elderly Chinese ladies also from my
So what happened? How could I change my own expectations so immediately because my feet suddenly stood in
Not that we have a monopoly on impatience or anything, but, why is it that so many Americans are so quick to be upset when things don’t go exactly how we expect, or when we are slightly inconvenienced? Endemic road rage. Violence with little thought of potential consequences. Saying words with the intent to hurt or offend. Not stopping to help people in need though it may take only a short moment. These are evidences, to me, that we have a serious social problem, and it must be recognized at the individual level in order to be solved. Is it selfishness or are we just a little too inflexible to break from our routine, quickly becoming irritable and unreasonable?
I just heard a man angrily say, “I’ve got some nasty letters to write when I get back. You know, United [Airlines] should have a way for people transferring flights to not need to go through security again.” I thought, is that reasonable cause to write “nasty” letters? (Sir, your “nasty” letters serve only as a self-serving forum to complain, not the altruistic means to improve their business you’ve justified it to be. If you sincerely wanted to improve the system, you could write a ‘diplomatic’ letter, or you could politely use the suggestion box in the corner of the room.)
“I hate standby. I HATE it,” said an angry someone hoping to fly to
I lacked the words (or the courage) to convey to these people the miracle that a heavy piece of constructed metal would soon leave the earth, somehow fly through the air, and take them to distant places in a matter of hours. Why can’t we be more patient and grateful? Then, we will be empowered with positivity instead of negativity.
I compared these attitudes of my countrymen with that of a blue turbaned Punjabi Sikh man from a Northwestern Indian village, with whom I held a very fulfilling conversation in the
If you’ve made it through this post, I hope that you will be a little more patient and flexible about any inconveniences that may happen to you today, and hereafter. You will be happier, and more people will want to be around you. We have much to be thankful for, and we don’t need to move to other countries to recognize this revolutionary principle if we will just open our eyes and think of the incredible conveniences that surround us every day (remember, we didn’t use to have all of the technology we have today that makes our lives so much easier… just think about it!). Though I don’t claim to be a master of this concept (as seen in my own examples), I hope I will never forget this principle that was solidified for me in
Let's be grateful. It will empower you with happiness. We have so much to be grateful for; we have much to be happy about.
Sunday, July 27, 2008
Posted by Kyle at 5:35 PM