“Every day may not be good, but there’s something good in every day.”

~ Author Unknown

Have you ever heard someone say, “He makes me mad”?  Have you said it yourself?  I have.  It hit me one day several years ago that saying that shows I have given the other person (or situation) way too much control over me.  The reality is that no one (or nothing) can MAKE me mad.  I can choose to react by getting mad.  However, it is MY choice as to how I will respond to everything that happens to or around me.  I refuse to give someone else that much control over me.  I just can’t do it.  I choose how I will react to the things around me every day.  It is my choice to keep a positive outlook and realized that I can only control certain things.

“No power in society, no hardship in your condition can depress you, keep you down, in knowledge, power, virtue, influence, but by your own consent.”

~ William Ellery Channing

I had to go to Chicago this week for some training with one of the divisions in our group at EBSCO.  I flew up early on Wednesday and had no travel issues at all.  My meeting that morning went very well and we actually finished early enough so that I could catch the Chicago Cubs playing the New York Mets at Wrigley Field.  It was my first time to that historic ballpark.  Even though the Mets pounded the Cubs 17-1, it was still a lot of fun.  I did enjoy watching the Cubs fans around me really struggle with the game.  It’s like life itself was riding on the outcome.  People were yelling at the players and booing the pitchers like that would have any impact on the outcome of the game.  What was happening on that field was causing many of the fans to have a bad day.  The problem?  Not a single one of those fans had any influence on the game itself.  That didn’t seem to matter.  I’ll bet almost everyone left Wrigley Field believing that the Cubs losing MADE them have a bad day.  Truthfully, if they had a bad day a result of that game, it’s because they chose to let that game have such a high priority in their life.  That’s sad.

[Before someone jumps on me, the very same thing can be said about college football fans in Alabama.  I know an Alabama fan that cannot get out of bed on Monday if Alabama loses that weekend.  I know Auburn fans who won’t go to church on Sunday if Auburn loses.  All of us use phrases to describe our team like “we” played well, “we” shut down their offense, “we” ran the ball down their throat, etc.  I am just as guilty as the next person.  You would think I was wearing the crimson jersey sometimes.  At least until you saw how short I am.  I doubt Coach Saban would have someone with my size and slowness on his list of recruits.  Something I try to remind myself often is that I cannot let the outcome of a football game played by 18 to 22 years olds that I don’t even know determine whether or not I am going to have a good day or a bad day.  Don’t get me wrong, I am disappointed when Alabama loses and I will probably sulk around for 15 or 20 minutes.  I always come back to the fact that I had nothing at all to do with the outcome.]

“You’re not going to make me have a bad day.  If there’s oxygen on earth and I’m breathing, it’s going to be a good day.”

~ Cotton Fitzsimmons

Back to my Chicago trip…  Yesterday was the day that we would participate in a training session.  The training ended around 3:00pm so that the folks from Canton could get to O’Hare Airport to catch their flight home.  My boss and I had an 8:50pm direct flight back to Birmingham from Midway Airport.  We caught a cab around 4:30pm.  Our office in Chicago is actually in Skokie, which is north of the city.  Midway Airport is south of the city.  Needless to say, that cab ride took a while in rush hour traffic.  It was no big deal.  We had plenty of time to have dinner at the airport and catch our flight.  We did just that.  We had dinner at Harry Caray’s in Midway Airport.  We took our time to enjoy dinner before heading to our gate.  Southwest Airlines began loading the plane right on time.  We pulled away from the gate right at 8:50pm and taxied out to the runway.  Then we waited.  And waited.  And waited until the captain came over the intercom to tell us the issue was the lights were out on the runway.  Yep, Midway Airport’s runways were dark.  We sat on the runway for about an hour and a half before the pilot was told to return to the gate.  We thought it might be quick but the crew gave us the option to leave the plane if we wanted.  I stayed on the plane and tried to rest.  After another two and a half hours at the gate, all flights were canceled.  By this time, it is almost 1:00am and we’re tired.  As you might imagine, the lines at all of the customer service counters were amazing long since everyone’s flight was canceled.  We got in line but figured out quickly that there were no available options to come on today on Southwest.  We found a flight on United Airlines out of O’Hare Airport that left at 5:32am so we booked two tickets and took a cab right from Midway to O’Hare.  We arrived at O’Hare around 2:45am and realized our flight was less than 3 hours away.  We caught that flight and made it back to Birmingham around 12:00pm after going through Houston.  What an adventure!

I tell you all of that because I saw lots and lots of people pitching fits at Midway Airport when those flights were canceled.  They were yelling at Southwest employees and making quite a scene.  I thought to myself that it was a complete waste of time to yell at the airlines personnel.  They did not make the decision to cancel all remaining flights nor could they reverse that call.  Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t happy either.  I was ready to be home.  I haven’t seen Caroline in over a week and I miss my wife.  Watching those people act the way they did reminded me that there were aspects of this situation I could control (booking alternate arrangements, etc.) and things I could not (cancelling the flights, etc.).  My boss and I chose to address the areas we could affect rather than focus on the things we could not.  I understand why folks were upset but too many of us need to put our efforts toward those things we can influence and not dwell on the things we have no control over.

“A happy person is not a person in a certain set of circumstances, but rather a person with a certain set of attitudes.”

~ Hugh Downs

Make the choice today to find the positive in every situation.  If you spend your time focusing on the good things, you won’t have time to dwell on the bad.  Remember, YOU control how YOU feel and no one else should ever have so much power over you that they dictate who and what you are.