For well over a year now I have adopted a motto that I am sure you have heard me preach over and over if you are a frequent reader of this blog: life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it. It is not easy to remember this when in the heat of the moment, but through deliberate practice, it will become automatic.
Recently as I was driving to a local restaurant for a late morning breakfast, I was pulled over by the police. As the police officer was doing his police officer things inside his car, I was wondering what I had done to be pulled over. My friend, who was riding in the backseat, politely told me that I didn’t stop entirely at a 4-way stop. Ah! Ok.
Now, I could have gone through a multitude of different ways with this. I could have gotten angry with me, or the police officer. I mean, there are worse and more reckless drivers out there than I. It was a dead street, and nobody was at the 4-way stop but me (and a nearby police cruiser). How dare he pull me over? I could have gotten angry with myself with embarrassment for doing a careless thing that will end up costing me a noticeable amount of cash in a fine. I could have just played the victim and got flustered, but I didn’t.
When the police officer made his way to my window, I politely greeted him, and as he told me why I was pulled over, I admitted my fault. There was no nervousness to this, there was no emotion to any of this, I kept it cordial and quiet. My reaction was one of understanding and remorse. After the officer processed my identification and such, he returns to our car and allowed me to continue on my way without a ticket. Because of my reaction, he let me off the hook.
I had another recent brush with the law. I had parked my car in a clearly marked no parking zone when I was visiting a friend. Believing that because it was a weekend, I had immunity from parking tickets. I was wrong. Upon returning to my car, I had a $50 parking ticket sitting on my windshield. I could have reacted in many usual ways, but I didn’t. As soon as I got home, I wrote out a cheque to pay for my fine and slipped it into an envelope to be paid. I learned my lesson, I didn’t need to get angry or disappointed in my over-confidence that I wouldn’t get ticketed, no, I took it in stride. Not even a week later, karma paid us back as my wife won tickets to a concert worth over $100. Life is like that.
If life steals $10 from you when you have $86,400 in the bank, you are not going to spend the rest of your money trying to get that $10 back. So why allow life to steal more of the 86,390 seconds you are given in a day trying to get back at the 10 minutes that it stole from you.
The ticket to a happy life is our reaction, stop denying yourself happiness by reacting negatively to anything that happens to you. Form the habit of responding positively, and I guarantee, your life will be lived in the freedom that comes with genuine happiness.
2 thoughts on “I Found The Ticket To Happiness”
“Because of my reaction, he let me off the hook.”
I like the concept of managing our reactions to the events around us as a means of managing unhappiness, but I disagree with the idea that things happen because of our reactions. If you believe that life is 90% how we react to the 10% of things that happen, then you also need to be consistent with how you weigh reactions vs actions. It is enough that you reacted in a way that made you happy, whether he gave you a ticket or not.
Thank you for your comment! Perhaps I didn’t articulate that correctly. My happiness was never tied to the end result, it was tied to the fact that I had power over my attitude and that I didn’t allow this policeman to affect my reaction. I remained in control. I am quite certain that had I reacted differently (played the victim, accusatory towards his job, etc), and allowed his action towards me affect me negatively, the end result would have been much different. I should have added that the policeman did tell me that because I didn’t lie to him, he was going to give me a break. So, in this instance, yes, my reaction affected the outcome. As for the parking ticket, the fact that my wife won a $100 concert ticket, that was coincidence and not directly affected by my attitude towards my ignorance.