NB: This is *not* something I consider to be basic morality. It’s something that I think is a worthwhile habit of mind for people who can manage it.
When I’m running late, I get impatient. I get angry at people for being in my way.
Except when I remember not to.
Because it’s not the fault of the old guy walking slowly with a cane that I left late for work. That’s something I did, not him. And being all impatient at him won’t cause me to be on time, but it does make the world a crueler place for people who move slowly.
Getting annoyed at the crowds of people who are in my way when I’m running late doesn’t help either. Neither does anxiously worrying over whether the train will come on time, and whether the lights will be with me, or anything like that.
Going around being angry at stuff like that doesn’t help, because being annoyed and worried doesn’t actually make stuff more likely to work out well. Punishing myself for being late by mentally berating myself for failing to be on time doesn’t help either.
Keeping that in mind can help, because it can make it easier not to freak out, and to pay attention to the things that I actually can control. And that makes me happier.
I think it is worth trying, for people who can manage it. (But NOT something to beat yourself up about being unable to do).
A good thought. I may not agree with all the bullshit you see in various places about the power of “thinking positive,” but being negative can be seriously harmful to you and everyone around you. (Unless you have something serious to be upset about, in which case negative emotions can actually be quite productive.)
I wasn’t actually intending to talk about positive thinking at all.
Running late, and then missing the train, and then having the light be against you, and then being stuck behind slow-moving people sucks. You don’t have to think positively about it. It sucks, and it’s ok to dislike it.
The problem isn’t negative thinking. It’s a different kind of thing.
It has two components: One is blaming others for things they’re not really responsible for. Like, you’re going to be late because you left late, not because there’s an old guy with a cane walking slowing in front of you. People with disabilities who move slowly are part of public space like other people and also like things; it’s not any more reasonable to be mad at them for walking down a road than it is to be mad at the road for being longer than you want it to be.
And also: There’s a state of mind in which it seems like being angry and aggressive is helpful, like it will make you more on time. Or, failing that, that it will make it more justified that you are late – like, if you’ve emotionally punished yourself, then it will be more ok and other people won’t have to get mad, or something. And that state of mind can make it seem like a good idea to work yourself up into as much anger and guilt as possible, as though it will help. But it won’t. And realizing that makes it easier not to get into that state of mind.