The Happiness Connection  

Don't lose faith

Recently, I was reminded yet again of how other people’s reactions to things you say and do, often have absolutely nothing to do with you.

I try to find moments whenever I can, to go into my garden. There’s always tidying to do, dead leaves to gather, and weeds to remove.

My gated community doesn’t use the typical green cart system. Instead, we leave clipping and such out for the landscaping company to remove.

We’re using a different firm this year, so I wasn’t sure if the designated day had changed.

When I was out walking my dog, I spied one of the strata council members. He’s been very active in choosing who got the new contract, so I was confident he’d be able to answer my question.

I called out and innocently inquired which day the landscapers would be coming this year.

I hadn’t expected his reply to be so brusque. I was also surprised by his comments about people’s lack of ability to read the sign that was posted by the mailboxes.

From my point of view, I was asking a simple question. It only required a one-word answer.

It would have been easy for me to walk away muttering under my breath, or for me to respond in an equally annoyed way.

It might even have caused me to decide I didn’t like this person and would do my best to avoid him in the future.

Instead, I chose to explain that I hadn’t picked up my mail in over a week because I was busy trying to cope with everything that was going on in my life.

The last time I’d walked past, there hadn’t been a sign, because I had looked.

It became apparent in our conversation that we had both provided a last-straw moment for the other one.

From this man’s point of view, I was only one in a string of people who had been asking the same question. He was also getting some grief about another landscaping situation.

Together, these things were causing him to feel fed up.

His patience was thin by the time I asked my question.

For me, being expected to figure the answer out for myself instead of simply asking, felt like one more item, on a very long list of things that needed to be figured out.

My dad had only just died and there was and still is a lot to do.

I didn’t appreciate someone suggesting I simply couldn’t be bothered to figure it out for myself.

None of us really knows what’s going on in someone else’s world. When they snap at you, are they really annoyed with you, or is it simply the culmination of a lot of things that have been going on?

I think it’s important to remember this when you get an unexpectedly harsh reaction from someone.

If it’s your partner or best friend, you may think you know what’s happening in their life, but you only know what they choose to share with you.

They might not even know themselves why they’re feeling annoyed or disgruntled.

Instead of believing they’re deliberately trying to hurt you, give them the benefit of the doubt. Accept that you’ve probably been caught up in something that has absolutely nothing to do with you.

I can think of times when a situation has caused me to feel so annoyed that the person I’m speaking with gets lashed with my harsh tones and angry words.

I try to remember to apologize to them. I know it isn’t their fault, but I’m too worked up to speak calmly.

Not everyone has this awareness. When you find yourself on the receiving end, try to accept there are probably other things going on.

As you continue to have your normal life interrupted by COVID-19, you may find your frustrations spilling into seemingly unrelated areas of your world. Remind yourself, that this will be happening to others, too.

Giving people the benefit of the doubt is an act of faith. It’s a chance to demonstrate that you believe the world is full of good people.

This belief makes it easier to be kind. That’s something we could all use more of right now.

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About the Author

Reen Rose is an experienced, informative, and engaging speaker, author, and educator. She has worked for over three decades in the world of education, teaching children and adults in Canada and England.

Research shows that happy people are better leaders, more successful, and healthier than their unhappy counterparts, and yet so many people still believe that happiness is a result of their circumstances.

Happiness is a choice. Reen’s presentations and workshops are designed to help you become robustly happy. This is her term for happiness that can withstand challenge and change.

Reen blends research-based expertise, storytelling, humour, and practical strategies to both inform and inspire. She is a Myers Briggs certified practitioner, a Microsoft Office certified trainer and a qualified and experienced teacher.

Email Reen at [email protected]

Check out her websites at www.ReenRose.com, or www.ModellingHappiness.com

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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