Three Ways Children Taught Me to See Life Differently

I woke up at 4:00 a.m. and hadn’t finished packing for my 5:55 a.m. flight. After only three hours of sleep, I muddled my way through the airport, and onto my first of two flights that day.

I was headed to San Diego, to work on a project with a client I adore. I was tired and really would rather have been in bed. This was not the way I intended to start my trip.

I have four girls, and at that time they ranged in age from 18 months to 11 years old. As a work-from-home mom, there is an exceptionally large sigh of relief at the tail-end of summer that washes over me when I’m on a flight for two hours. Alone. Without shrieking.

My first flight was uneventful, and I expected more of the same as I claimed my seat in the rear of the second plane, flying from Phoenix to San Diego. I’ll just read the rest of my book, Day Job to Dream Job, and snooze a bit on the plane. Or so I thought.

As we sat on the jet way, waiting for what felt like hours, two little monsters began squealing away behind me. Likely two or three years old, they were making quite the scene at 7:00 a.m. As a mom of one of “those kids” on a plane, I immediately empathized with the parents. I could imagine them praying in their heads, “Dear God, shut them up.”

People around me began to get restless. We had been waiting to take off for some time, and the littles were losing it, screaming unintelligible things. Clearly, they wanted to take off, too.

Suddenly, it was as if a switch turned on in their heads. No, they didn’t stop screaming, but they began to scream with purpose. The young boy began to encourage his sister, and the two – in unison – began their new performance.

“One, two, three, GO!” Their excitement built with each chant, and they got louder and louder as the anticipation of our take-off grew with each repetition of their new mantra.

Oh, people were irritated. The tired mom next to me, with a sleeping child in her lap, tried to force a smile. The burly ex-football player shifted in his seat as he grew ever more irritated about his sleep being disrupted. And me? I started laughing. Silently to myself at first, and then an all-out belly laugh along with those kids.

They were excited. They wanted to get going, and they were thrilled at the anticipation of the adventure they were about to embark on. Their innocence reflected only the joy of what was to come – not the anxiety of being stuck on a jet way, or stress of the meeting they’d be late for if the plane didn’t arrive on time.

I began to realize, in the increasingly louder chants of “One, two, three, GO!”, that we’re all somewhere along this path, waiting to go, wherever our destination may be.

I learned three important lessons from those children behind me:

1. Those kids didn’t care about the hang-ups or delays. They were just excited to get going. It made me wonder about how often we get consumed by the speed bumps in our day, and neglect one important truth: the journey is life. And when we’re only focused on the destination, we miss out on the best part. I learned that perspective is so important.

2. I learned that perception changes things. Whether the glass is half empty or half full may be an age-old question, but it also may be the lens through which you could make or break your day. Your decisions. Your life. If we can change how we perceive circumstances, and default to hope and optimism rather than annoyance, we could rewrite the entire blueprint of our life’s journey.

3. I learned that our priorities matter. Had I been so consumed with having a moment of rest on my flight, I’d have completely missed out on the pure joy laughing with those toddlers allowed me. I got off the plane that day in a great mood, much better than how my day started. Why? Because I made it my priority to have a good time. I wasn’t preoccupied with myself or my agenda. It’s a beautiful thing when we can step outside of ourselves and just be.

How do you handle those speed bumps in your day? In your business? Do you enjoy the course, implementing the things you learn when you fall down? Or do you shift in your seat like many of the passengers on the plane with me that day, terrified of what’s to come and inconvenienced by the hindrance to your plan?

Life will hardly ever go as smoothly as we plan in our head, so take it from the kids in row 19: get excited, and enjoy the sweet anticipation of what’s to come. Even if you don’t know exactly what that is.

 

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