Staying Fluffy

ReginaYou are part of a hurry-up, rush-around world where too often good manners and courteous behavior take a back seat to rudeness and instant gratification. You can choose to allow the actions of other people to negatively impact you. Or you can refuse to let other people’s behavior ruffle your fur by choosing to stay fluffy.

As children, my sister and I had a pet rabbit named Honey Bunny, a tiny ball of soft, fluffy white fur. She was cute, cuddly, and consistently calm. When I encounter a tense circumstance, or want to keep from being sucked into other people’s negativity, I repeat “fluffy bunny, fluffy bunny, fluffy bunny” over and over in my head.

It really works. I let go of any frustration or resentment and cannot stay annoyed when I concentrate on a cute little bunny rabbit.

One day I was walking back from a neighborhood shop when I witnessed a driver stopped in the middle of the intersection, talking on the phone while presumably waiting to turn left. After the light turned red she proceeded into the intersection. Although there were signs indicating U-turns were illegal, she chose to do it anyway. Her SUV was too large to make it on the first attempt, so she had to back up and move forward repeatedly.

Drivers at the green light laid on their horns, while many of the pedestrians who were forced to wait on the sidewalk screamed at her. The woman gestured through her windshield with a rude hand signal, continued chatting on the phone, and maneuvered into the illegal turn to take a parking space in front of a certain store.

Throughout this incident I stood on the sidewalk, a silent witness to how the actions of one person inconvenienced and angered dozens of others. No matter how the woman behaved, or how those impacted by the woman reacted, I was determined not to allow the circumstance to ruin my good mood. I was focused on staying fluffy.

On another occasion, I was experiencing greater pain than usual from two previous back surgeries. I decided to consult an orthopedic specialist to see if anything could be done to alleviate the pain.

The specialist entered the room without introducing himself and quickly asked what was wrong. As I began recounting the history of my back surgeries, as I had with other doctors, he interrupted me. “Do not talk to a physician that way,” he said. “Wait until you are asked specific questions and then answer as quickly as possible. We are busy people.”

I politely cut the examination short and left. No matter how shocking or arrogant the physician’s behavior was, I was determined to stay fluffy.

Occasionally you will encounter people like the woman in the SUV or the physician who are unconcerned with how their actions negatively impact other people. You can ask yourself, “How does angrily ego-reacting to the rude, but not physically threatening, behavior of another person really benefit me?”

How other people choose to behave is their choice. You have the same choice.

Yes, you can be led by hurt feelings or wounded pride to impulsively fire something back, and there are many situations when it is appropriate and important to stand up for what is right. Yet, when you egotistically call people on their own self-centered behavior, it is not likely they will say, “Wow! Thank you so much. You have allowed me to see how badly I acted.”

Rarely, if ever, do situations like this turn out the way our ego wants. Few of us appreciate being told when we have behaved badly. Many times we already realize our behavior is inappropriate. Even if we are embarrassed and ashamed, instead of stopping to question and assume responsibility for our behavior, we may instead allow our wounded egocentric pride to shoot the messenger.

Remaining positive and peaceful under stressful circumstances requires bringing a different level of awareness to the situation than that which creates it in the first place. I learned it is necessary to have a plan, something to focus on to keep my ego from becoming caught up in nerve-racking situations or other people’s self-absorbed behavior.

Next time you encounter someone who is rude, find yourself stuck in a traffic jam, or discover that someone has backed into your parked car, refuse to add any negative energy to an already uncomfortable occurrence. You cannot change an incident after it happens. You do not have the power to change other people or make them see things about their behavior they are not willing to accept for themselves. Instead, focus on behaving in a way you are proud to remember by imagining something peaceful and calm that helps you stay fluffy!

How other people choose to behave is their choice. You have the same choice.