It’s 8:05am. According to my trusty Google Maps app, the 66 Bus to Harvard Square should arrive around 8:13. I eye the Dunkin Donuts to the left of the bus stop and decide that I have enough time to grab a much needed cup of coffee if I am to face my students and not poke my eye out with a dry erase marker. I get my cup of coffee and return to the bus stop. I leave my coffee unopened because I remembered what happened last time I vied for a sip. While on the bus, the coffee spilled all over me in glorious fashion thanks to the most abrupt stops in the world. So I keep the top closed over the scalding black liquid.
It’s 18 degrees. Windy. A smatter of snowflakes falls to the ground. I bury my face in my black infinity scarf. My breath fogs up my glasses and I can’t see. I wipe the lenses my finger and quickly retreat in into the warmth of my gloves. Boston winters don’t play.
Despite the cold, I’m somewhat self-satisfied because I made it the bus stop early this morning, which means I’ll have thirty glorious minutes to do some prep and relax before my classes start at 9am. I smile, a miracle considering it’s morning, and I hate mornings with the fiery passion of a million burning suns. I check the time:
8:15am. Um, okay so the bus is a little late.
8:25am. What the hell is going on? Seriously, why can’t MBTA get its sh** together! Do they know that people need to get to work? Why the hell would they increase the damn fare if they can’t even get buses on the street? I crane my neck and look out for the bus every three seconds.
8:27am. The bus arrives and it’s full to the max, people sandwiched together, touching each other so close that faces are rubbing against faces. I think how there’s no way I’ll be able to get in. Bam! The driver doesn’t allow me in. Just as I thought. I want to hurl my bag into the brick building behind me.
8:31am. A second bus arrives and it’s just as full. Eff this! I make my way to the back entrance and enter, making space where none exists. I look at the seats longingly but know it’ll be impossible to get a seat. I stand for the whole bus ride, thinking endlessly about how I’ll be late for work. Traffic is bad.
I’m late for work.
My head curses enough to shame a sailor and sends out rays upon rays of negative energy into the air. I hate Boston. I hate the MBTA. I hate the traffic. I HATE EVERYTHING.
All of this negative thinking ends up creating a terrible day.
Rewind to 8:15am. The bus is late. It’s okay. I won’t be late for work today, however.
The bus arrives at 8:23am. It’s full but I can get it in, and I won’t even have to stand long because I’ll get a seat soon. I get into the bus and one stop later, a lady steps off and I claim her seat. I sit comfortably in the crowded bus. My mind is at peace and I focus on the music pouring into my ears from my headphones. I’m not worried. I’ll get to work on time. Not as early as I wanted to, but I won’t be late.
8:50am. I get to work with ten minutes to spare. I have a great day.
Both these accounts are true stories. In the first scenario, my mind was full of negative thinking and anger, and it ruined my whole day. When I decided to shift my thinking away from negativity and anger, my world changed, as if responding to my mind.
Don’t underestimate the power of the mind to influence your world. I realized that we all make a choice to accept negativity and reinforce it or reject it by stating affirmative statements and thus, driving negativity away.
Try shifting your thinking at any point in a bad day and let me know what happens.
What are some things you do to get over commuter rage?
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