Yesterday was a weird day. One of those crazy days that make you think the stars aligned to conspire against you. Many little unexpected things happened that would have left me crying by the end of the day a couple of years back.
Not yesterday. Something was different yesterday. In fact, I stayed calm throughout the day and was cheerful and inspirited in the evening. It was a great day! But what was it exactly that made the difference? What made me feel good in the end even though many things went wrong?
Story Number One – I Lost my Annual Pass
Let me start by telling you about the first crazy thing that happened yesterday: The day started off promising with nice, sunny, springy weather and some free time at hand to go for a long walk with a good friend in the palace gardens of Schwetzingen.
But then I lost my annual pass. We searched under the blossoming cherry trees, we retraced the route we took from the side entrance, but the pass was nowhere to be found. I was sad and overwhelmed as I rarely lose things.
For the next 10 minutes I couldn’t enjoy the walk and the company, I was feeling bad and couldn't stop thinking about the lost card. When my friend suggested to go to the main entrance to check if someone has found the pass I felt a little streak of hope, although I could hardly imagine to get the pass back.
At least it was an action plan. I didn’t feel as helpless anymore. I started to enjoy the park, the chirping birds and the conversation again. And suddenly, out of nowhere, I realized that there are also positive aspects. If I am to buy a new pass then I will contribute to preserving this unique park, which gave me so many enjoyable hours. And if someone finds it and keeps it, well, then I gifted another person who might not have had the means to buy an annual pass.
We went to the main entrance and a cheerful good-humored keeper was thrilled to hand me my pass. Someone found it and delivered it straight to the main entrance. Once again, I was overwhelmed, this time in the best possible way. To me it was a big act of kindness to return the pass instead of keeping it. I was so emotional that I couldn’t resist the urge of hugging the keeper. He didn’t mind, and I assume that he’ll remember our encounter as one of the highlights of his day.
There was a happy ending to this story and I learned my lesson. I was reminded to always keep my hopes up and to have faith in other people.
Story Number Two – My Cash Card got Locked
A couple of hours later I went to the post office to send four parcels. As some of them had to be shipped abroad and some required an insured shipping, it took the clerk quite a while to process everything.
I didn’t have any change and the post office doesn’t accept credit cards, but I knew that they accept EC cards (electronic cash cards used in Germany). I was about to pay, but for the first time in my life I managed to type in the wrong PIN three times. Aaarrrghhh! My card got locked and I couldn’t pay anymore. The clerk got grumpy because she had to cancel everything. The line behind me grew longer and longer. Definitely not the best time to look on the bright side of life!
Having the happy story of the lost and then found pass in mind, I knew that there must be a positive side to this story too, even if I didn’t see it at that very moment. Plus, I had a plan in mind immediately: Going to the next bank to withdraw money (with my credit card), coming back and finally sending the parcels.
These two things helped me to not freak out, lose my temper, or get angry. I kept calm, smiled, apologized many times and told the clerk that this day is just as weird as it gets. Her face brightened up and she managed to smile while she continued with the tedious cancellation process (which took about 15 minutes and involved her manager coming with a special key).
When I returned with cash on me, I realized that previously I made a mistake with the form of shipping I requested. The correct shipping option cost less money, so I ended up saving a nice amount. There, I found the positive aspect!
What You Can Ask Yourself When Things Go Wrong
When something goes wrong and you start feeling bad, try answering the following questions. The answers have the potential to calm you down and make you feel content again.
What can I do to remedy the situation?
Think about what steps you can take to resolve the issue. Having an action plan will make you feel empowered. Even if you can't fix it, you will know that you tried your very best.
How could I possibly benefit from this situation?
Be it just a lesson (like in my first story), or a monetary benefit (like in my second story), there is always a positive aspect you can take away from each event.
Could someone else benefit from this situation?
Ask yourself if the situation is good for somebody else. For example, imagine you've lost money (20 € or dollars) and somebody else finds it. I'm pretty sure the finder will be happy, it would probably even make his or her day. Believing that someone else is happy about it makes it easier for me to let go.
How can I make people involved feel at ease?
Be nice to the people involved, smile, explain, make compliments. This increases your chances of people being nice to you and wanting to help you. This in turn will help resolve the situation faster. Even if it doesn't get resolved, everyone will leave with a feeling of connectedness.
And finally: Hug someone when the issue gets resolved. If it doesn’t, hug someone anyway.