Upset? Stressed at work? Read this.

If you’re upset about something at work or if you’re otherwise stressed about your commute or something someone said, this post is for you.

The other day, I was on a Delta flight. It was a small plane (maybe 15 rows in all) flying from Ithaca to Detroit to connect to Chicago. It was a short, smooth flight. The flight attendant (a woman who I guess was in her early 60s) was expertly and quickly serving beverages. It’s Breast Cancer Awareness month, so she was wearing a pink ribbon pin. The female passenger sitting in front of me asked the flight attendant “Are you a survivor?” Her response, delivered with a smile, was “Twice!” The passenger then said “I just lost my sister last month…” and they proceeded to have a quiet, personal conversation. As they conversed, the flight attendant continued prepping cups with ice, etc. but not in a way that was disrespectful. They talked for a few minutes. I saw the flight attendant put her hand on the woman’s shoulder and the passenger’s head leaned towards the flight attendant’s hand. It was a raw, beautiful moment between two strangers who found an immediate connection. Just then, the man sitting behind me, who couldn’t hear the conversation, started complaining to his seatmate about the slow service. I turned around and said “There’s a reason they’re talking, just chill a minute.” His response? “I can only imagine.” Well, I thought, no you can’t. There’s a lesson here; we need to take a step back and evaluate what’s really important in life.

I have family members who are ill and friends who are ill and friends who have lost their spouses. You think they care about anything other than getting better? No, because they’ve been given a glimpse of reality. They know health is the most important thing. They know life is fleeting. You’d think we too would learn to appreciate life more. We see these things and for a moment, or an hour or a day, we do, but sooner or later, we forget.

I’m blessed with a special needs niece who has taught me more about what’s really important in life than most other people. You want to get a better perspective on life? Spend time in a children’s hospital. You’ll *never* look at your work email inbox the same again because, and here’s the point of this post, in the scheme of life, it’s irrelevant. That person at the office who always disagrees with you? Irrelevant. Being upset or annoyed about most anything work related? Irrelevant and a waste of time and energy. I’m not saying you shouldn’t be passionate about what you do, but take it all in stride. Do your job to the fullest, be passionate but don’t sweat the small stuff.

I proudly serve on the board of Make-A-Wish (Mid-Atlantic region) because helping children is a priority of mine. Plus, it grounds me. So, if you know me, you know I don’t take myself too seriously. You know I inject humor in most everything. You know I love my family and doing just about anything with my kids, including sewing patches on my daughter’s Girl Scout uniform or making funny art with breakfast food just to make the kids smile. Some people at work may think I come off aloof sometimes, but really, I’m listening to you complain about something so stupid, I only wish there were some way I could help you see what you’re missing. The truth is, it’s hard. We’re so embroiled with our days. It happens to me too.

The other lesson here is you never know what is going on with someone. If someone is being an idiot at the office, maybe they just had a fight with their spouse or maybe they’re in financial trouble or maybe someone they love is sick. Hey, its life, it happens. So, before you rail on them, pause. Don’t attack, just relax. Don’t complain, just explain. You’ll likely find there is more to that person than you realize. You may even find an opportunity to be there for them, like the above mentioned flight attendant. Sure, they may genuinely be a toxic, negative person. That happens too sometimes. If that’s the case, just walk away and forget it. Let it roll off your back, just like water off a duck. The thing to do with these people is avoid them.

Then, call your spouse and tell her or him you love them. Kiss and hug your kids. Call your parents to say you love them. You never know what tomorrow will bring. Breathe. Enjoy today. Enjoy now.

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About John T. Peters

Since I was a young boy, I've been in business for myself. Sure I've had 'jobs' along the way; some actually quite senior roles in major companies. My entreprenurial spirit however, keeps me going. Life's challenges however, happen in and out of the office. I'm constantly trying to improve as an executive, father, husband, brother, son and friend, all at the same time. I've determined that in everything you do, you're better off "outside the box." So, read on for Fresh Thinking. View all posts by John T. Peters

8 responses to “Upset? Stressed at work? Read this.

  • mygoldenchild.wordpress.com

    I love this post. After my son passed away from cancer, I don’t take life as seriously. My mantra in every situation – did someone die? No? Then don’t sweat it.

  • Frank Bright

    Well said. As the saying goes, “Be kind, everyone is fighting a battle.”

  • Shahmeen Sadiq

    Hello John. Thank you so much for this post. It came at exactly the right time for me…I got some disappointing (business) news today and while I’m allowing myself the momentary “ouch” of it, your post reminds me that it is not the grave matter that my ego would have it become. So I will focus on what is really important. I will count my blessings and will say out loud how much I love my children, other beloved ones, my friends, family and community as well as this meaningful work that sustains me even when it doesn’t go as planned…all part of this amazing thing called life. Thank you!

  • judy nagy

    Arrogance and Ignorance: I have zero tolerance for people who judge others, like complaining about slow service when the FA was having an important conversation. There was nothing more important than that conversation. Even if you don’t get a glass of orange juice at all for the entire flight, it doesn’t matter. I’ve worked with people wiith disabilities and horses for 30 years. If you learn nothing else, you learn not to judge and not to be selfish or impatient. Let people have their interaction; you know nothing about it, so just shut up.

  • picnic09

    Right on!
    Chris

  • Ana P.

    Loved reading your entry for Oct 22! We take life Nd health for granted, and a lot of the time family and friends too.
    If we all had a little more empathy, this world would be a much better place

  • Jose Maria Prieto

    beautiful..thanks for this John

  • realgirl123

    Just listened to Vic Steaker (founder of Health Media) at the Chelsea library last night on finding your purpose in life. Incredible story of his beautiful daughter who died at age 19. Feel free to connect, he has created a movement based on exactly what you are writing about. Thank you for sharing and caring to blog about this subject matter…

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