Attitude can be contagious for better or worse

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I popped out from work today to do a few errands.  In 45 minutes, I saw three separate acts of aggression on the street.  One was a motorcyclist aggressing a driver who seemed to have committed the grievous crime of not being sure, momentarily, which lane they should best take.  That particular stretch of road is laid out confusingly, with one lane becoming two then just as suddenly becoming one lane for cars again plus a bus lane.  Anyway, the car slowed down and must have delayed the motorcyclist by perhaps seconds.  This was a frustration the motorcyclist seemingly could not bear and they honked and loudly revved and finally swerved out to look long and pointedly in the driver’s window.  As I watched the motorcycle rev and speed down the city street, and thought what a spectacle they had made of themselves in their display of short-temper, I was left hoping the car driver was able to shake off the motorcyclists behaviour.

Seeing three such incidents in less than an hour, had me wondering was there a higher than usual level of crankiness around today and why that might be.  Is it because today is a Monday and gloriously sunny, while on Saturday it rained all day long.  Or perhaps people are truly back into the daily grind of getting out to work and school Monday-Friday, and the realisation has hit that this is life for the next two months until mid-term’s blessed temporary relief.  Or money worries have hit hard now the kids are back in the expensive free school system.

Whatever had the aggressors’ lives so stressed, it looked like consideration and respect for others has been drained out of them today.   When we are stressed, our attention can become restricted to our own survival, our own interests, our own needs.  We can lose interest in what other people may be feeling, or in what effect our actions have on other people.  When we are highly stressed, other people can become just an obstacle to getting where we need to go quickly, or just a competition for a resource.

There may be times in all our lives when we are highly stressed, and we cannot care about anyone except ourselves and our immediate family.  However in the meantime, what I witnessed today was a strong reminder to me to be aware that how I am can impact positively or negatively on people I meet throughout the day. 

Most of the time, we can choose how to be in terms of attitude and actions.  It is worthwhile spending a few minutes each morning meditating on your intention for the day, including your attitude in your actions and how you treat others – and yourself.  I find is a source of information and inspiration and it has an interesting article on How Meditation Benefits Everyone Around You by Roger Gabriel (Raghavanand) which goes much further with this idea. 

I suggest that compassion and respect for others and ourselves are important to include in daily goals.  Remember that you don’t know what other people are going through – and I am aware I do not know what stresses that motorcyclist was under today.  Neither was the motorcyclist aware of what the driver of that car was going through today.  I hope they were having a good enough day to be able to shake off the aggression, and were not already emotionally vulnerable when they were honked at and threatened.  I hope the motorcyclist was able to shake off their anger, slow down, and get home safely tonight.  I am grateful to whoever it was for the reminder about the impact we have on people who share our space, even just momentarily in traffic.

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