Sunday, January 10, 2016

Lifestyle: Happy New Year - a lesson in reaction and attitude!

For the first post of the New Year 2016, let's examine an interesting experience in positive perspective I had during the last day of 2015.
New year resolutions apart, the most important thing we should focus on is on being happy, being alive, rejoicing, and bringing optimism and positivity to all aspects of life. Easier said than done, right? As Epictetus, the Greek philosopher said many centuries ago, "It's not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters."
We were on a cruise. We had left home port 4 days ago and were on the last port of call in Nassau, the Bahamas. It was a beautiful, warm and sunny day, with a light breeze and clear blue sky. A perfect day to end the year by leaving the ship and exploring the clear, white sandy beaches of this tropical island. Along with our ship, two others had also docked at about the same time, and roughly 2,000 passengers from each boat were coming ashore. You can guess what this means –a perfect sunny last day of the year, plus 6,000 people trying to enjoy a brief 6-7 hours in the island equals big lines. And that’s what we had to face when we got out of the ship and were greeted by an endless line of people eager to explore Nassau. 
We endured a boring wait in an almost unmovable line of impatient tourists for almost 1 hour and a half. But it was sunny. And it was the last day of the year. And we were in the Bahamas. And the weather was perfect. So there should be no reason to be upset, I thought. We would eventually get to our destination. One lady, however, who stood behind me impatiently pacing and trying to skip the line several times, was getting more agitated than the others. Whenever she saw a uniformed employee, she would ask about the line and complain about the wait. They were doing what they could and the buses to take us to the beach were coming. Finally, it was our time to board the small tour bus. 
The lady and her family were the last ones to come aboard, and she came in with gritted teeth, stomping her feet, and complaining about the wait. She sat down next to me and punched the seat in front of her with her fist. Yes, she was angry. An employee walked in after her and asked for her name and cabin number to tell the cruise line because she was complaining and unhappy she had been standing in line waiting for an hour and a half. She exploded with insults! “But we’ve all been here waiting for an hour and a half,” the other passengers said in unison. The poor bus driver sensed the tension and threaded his way cautiously. “How are you all doing?  I apologize for the wait, but we’re celebrating Junkanoo, a Bahamian festival, and therefore the traffic has been really heavy today. I hope you have a Happy New Year!” The angry woman by my side shook her head and rolled her eyes, and I turned my face away to the window, shouting a resounding “Happy New Year” to the bus driver that was just doing his job. About fifteen minutes later we were at the hotel where we would spend the next 6 hours before embarking again, and everyone got off the bus. Thankfully, I didn't come across this negative person during my day. Lighten up, I thought, it’s the last day of the year, and you want to spend it in a bad mood? Enjoy what you can.
Moving forward to a few hours later, when, after walking in the scorching sun and facing several other lines throughout the busy hotel, we finally got a table to sit down and eat at the crowded outdoor restaurant. Two bites into my sandwich, a happy little girl, dripping chlorine water from her soaked bikini coming straight from the water park asked me if she and her sister could share the table with us. We were happy for the cheery company, as there was nowhere else to sit and our spacious table had empty chairs. Their father came carrying their burgers and drinks and thanking us for allowing them to share our table. After some initial small talk, we discovered we were traveling aboard the same ship. “We have a huge cabin with a balcony!” the younger of the girls shouted excitedly. The father shook his head, smiling. “Well,” he explained, “we only got that because we were late getting into the ship; the cruise line had already released our cabin so they accommodated us on a nicer one, sort of like when you’re late for a flight and your seat is sold out and they put you in first class.” He then went on to tell us their gruesome experience getting aboard. 
Flying from out of state, their flight was delayed 4 hours due to weather, and by the time they got to port, the ship had departed. It was the last week of the year, most flights were booked and it was hard getting anywhere at the last minute. There was nothing available for them to catch up with the cruise until the last port, Nassau, where we were. They flew to Nassau, got into the boat (at least getting a cabin upgrade) – but their luggage had not even arrived; meaning that if it didn’t get there in the next few hours, the ship would sail away again back to departure point, and they would have no clean clothes for the remaining 2 days at sea. And that night was New Year’s celebration gala on the ship! But he was not worried. He was not grouchy. He was not upset. He was not punching the furniture, cursing or complaining. He was having fun in the sun. “Look at the bright side, girls,” he told his daughters, giggling, “if the luggage doesn’t arrive while we’re on the ship, we will get it back at home and all we will have to do is hang the clean clothes back on the closet!” The girls laughed, agreed, and finished their burgers. They were soon ready to go, ready to endure a long line on another ride at the water park, as long as they were there they were enjoying themselves, soaking up the day and having fun. With a bright smile on their faces, despite their frustrating experience.
Someone lost an hour and a half in the morning waiting for the bus and it made their day miserable, affecting the people around them negatively, spilling bad vibes like a virus in the air. Someone else missed more than half of a vacation they had been dreaming on for months, had no clothes to wear for the rest of the cruise, and were making the best out of the situation by enjoying what was left proving that, regardless of the outcome or the situation you’re in, you’re the owner of your feelings and your attitudes. You’re the one that will make it a great day or a bad day. You’re the one with power, so use it well! Happy New Year and let's make it a magical and positive one!
“Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change.” – Wayne Dyer