Thursday, January 7, 2016

“Three ways to Change Your World?”

You can change your world.

Our lives are a series of events – some we control, and others we cannot. Stuff just happens. We cannot change the event, but we do have control of how we react to the event, and our reaction will determine the atmosphere. Will it be hot, cold, or warm and cozy?

Event + Reaction = Atmosphere

Here are three ways to transform the world around you:
1.     Be Generous:
A few days ago we pulled into the Starbucks drive-thru lane behind about a dozen cars. Patience is
not one of my virtues. But it was a nice day, cold but the sun was out, so we patiently waited our turn. There was one car that seemed to take an inordinate time to place its order. We finally placed our order at the squawk box and waited patiently to get to the pick-up window.  The Starbucks app on my phone was not working so I dug out a credit card to pay for my “Vente Americana” and Rita’s “Tall Mocha.” As I tried to pass the card to the barista, she informed me that our drinks had already been paid for by the customer who preceded us. She smiled and asked if we would like to treat the folks behind us with the same courtesy. “Sure, why not? It is Christmas Eve.
It is unclear who had started the gift chain, the barista or some earlier customer, but I would guess the givers outnumbered the takers. The Christmas season is noted for the thought of giving to others. Our kids blew us away with their gifts for us this year.
2.     Be Courteous:
While in college in Atlanta, I would visit my girlfriend several miles from campus. Exiting the freeway, there was a stop sign at the end of the off-ramp, which I often totally ignored. One day I got caught and given a traffic ticket. The judge gave me a choice between paying a fine or going to traffic school. Lacking funds, I opted for the school which consisted of a three-hour lecture accompanied by the obligatory gruesome movie showing the results of bad driving. But the most interesting thing was they gave me a small decal that said, “COURTESY IS CONTAGIOUS”
Sticking the decal on my dashboard, I decided to test it out whenever I had the chance. It was amazing. Most of the time, whenever I acted courteous to another driver, they, in turn, acted courteous themselves. Courtesy is contagious. By the same token, being discourteous or angry can lead to road rage, fights, and wars.
3.     Don’t take it Personal:
Driving to work one day, I was distracted thinking some deep thought and accidently cut off a furious young woman who immediately expressed her anger by showing off the nail polish on the middle finger of her right hand. I could have gotten angry and responded with similar heat, but I knew I was at fault and repentant. Rather than react negatively to her sign of contempt, I was impressed by the dramatic splendor she displayed. Over the years, I have seen many vulgar displays of anger, but the aplomb with which this lady responded to my carelessness was in a category by itself. I had to admire her dynamism. 
When someone gets upset or angry our tendency is to take it personally and fight fire with fire. But, over many years, I have learned that people often strike out because of some internal issue. 

Hurting people hurt people.

Proverbs 15:1 (NKJV) A soft answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger.

Bill Johnson

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