Friday, November 16, 2007

Does Your Behavior Line Up With What You do?

First, a joke:

A man was being tailgated by a stressed out woman on a busy boulevard. Suddenly, the light turned yellow, just in front of him. He did the right thing, stopping at the crosswalk, even though he could have beaten the red light by accelerating through the intersection.

The tailgating woman was furious and honked her horn, screaming in frustration as she missed her chance to get through the intersection, dropping her cell phone and makeup.

As she was still in mid-rant, she heard a tap on her window and looked up into the face of a very serious police officer. The officer ordered her to exit her car with her hands up. He took her to the police station where she was searched, finger printed, photographed, and placed in a holding cell. After a couple of hours, a policeman approached the cell and opened the door. She was escorted back to the booking desk where the arresting officer was waiting with her personal effects.

He said, "I'm very sorry for this mistake. You see, I pulled up behind your car while you were blowing your horn, flipping off the guy in front of you, and cussing a blue streak at him. I noticed the 'What Would Jesus Do' bumper sticker, the 'Choose Life ' license plate holder, the 'Follow Me to Sunday School' bumper sticker, and the chrome-plated Christian fish emblem on the trunk. Naturally ... I assumed you had stolen the car."




The first time that I saw this joke, I laughed. It *is* pretty funny. However, since I have been doing more thinking lately, I realize that it is a funny take on an old problem. You can substitute any moral/religious path symbols for the Christian symbols, and it would still be funny.

The first thing that I learned is that instead of simply wrapping ourselves in the ideological 'flags' of our miscellaneous beliefs, maybe we could try picking up a trait that is mentioned in those beliefs, and working on developing that trait within ourselves.

One of my bad habits (lately) has been to assume the worst about why someone did (or didn't) do something. I used to give everyone the benefit of the doubt. Now, I tend to doubt the benefit of giving!

I have been working on becoming more like the person that I used to be five years ago, with the wisdom of the person that I am today. It is not easy, by any stretch of the imagination, but it is worthwhile. I tend to like myself and others more, when I lighten up and let people be people, and make mistakes.

The second thing that I learned from this joke is that we are too busy, too rushed. Our lives are crowded with too much stuff, both physical, and emotional, that are not important to us. Then we find ourselves frantically stepping through the day to bed, day in and day out. This is probably the reason that when we become grownups, time seems to go by so much faster than when we were children. There is so much more to do, to see, to take care of, you know the drill.

Can we remove things from our lives that take us away from our families? Only we can stop the endless merry-go-round. To take the time to actually *live*, so that we are not rushing, and stressing over every single thing that happens that we don't like.

For example, using the example of the joke and the trait that I am working on, if the person in front of me is not moving as fast as I would like, I take a deep breath and remember that the person in front of me is driving at the speed that they are comfortable with, and they are not driving slowly specifically to inconvenience me :-).

If I am running a little late, I try to be grateful that this person is in front of me, reminding me to slow down/obey the speed limit, and perhaps they saved me from an accident, or a speeding ticket, or worse.

I'll admit, when I'm rushing and stressed, it can sometimes be difficult to remember this, but it is something that I'm remembering more as time goes on.

But, back to the subject line... When you respond to an irritant, can people see that you actually live the way that you say that you believe? (And, no, it doesn't matter whether the other person knows you or not... YOU know you!)


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