There I was at the post office waiting in line. I had just walked a few miles up and down hills in my neighborhood and I was covered with a sheen of sweat. According to my reflection in the window, my hair was standing up on end. It was one of those lay low times when I was hoping not to be seen and instead I ended up stuck in a long, very slow line, with a lot of angry people.
There were conversations up and down the line full of complaints against the post office, government, and the world in general. The worst offender was in front of me. He had a big voice and used it quite effectively. I knew I didn’t want to listen to negativity while I waited, so I engaged him in a conversation. When I mentioned that it sounded like he didn’t like being there and I was wondering if he was going to choose to leave, I think I might have upset him. It was probably my calm and gentle nature that saved me.
I shared with him that when I walked in and saw the line I knew I had a choice and mailing my granddaughter’s birthday gift felt worth staying. And then, I asked him about his family and shifted the conversation to something more positive. I did throw in a few coachy moments, though, hoping something might stick and help him feel more positive in the future.
Waiting in line is a choice. What you do while waiting is also a choice. It’s really quite simple, but also an art.
Here is how you can up level your waiting experiences.
Evaluate the situation impartially. What are the facts here? How long are you likely to wait? How important is the end result to you? Can you change the situation for the better?
Make a choice. Either you choose to get in the line or you don’t. Once the decision is made, stop thinking about it unless you get new information to re-evaluate.
Find ways to make the best of the situation. Avoid joining in with the complainers. It will only make you feel bad and lower your energy.
Choose something to do while in line. The ideas I came up with at the post office included:
- People watch
- Sing the national anthem
- Give my mind an assignment to work on
- Let it roam
- Make farting noises
- Practice mindful meditation
- Do stretching exercises
- Engage others in conversation
(It seems I chose the higher road.)
It is easy to resist these moments of inconvenience, yet that very resistance that entices you is the real source of your discomfort. You can actually have fun in line. Meet great people. Get things done. Fantasize. Or, according to this Huffington Post article, even make it a joyful experience.
The next time you find yourself one of many in a long line, don’t forget that it is a choice you felt had value. Instead of dwelling on the negative, see it as an adventure and find a way to use the time to your advantage. Who knows? Maybe there is someone in that line you are meant to meet or being there is preventing a car accident you might have been in.
What I do know for sure is that developing the art of waiting in line and recognizing it as a choice, feels more peaceful and empowering than any of the other alternatives.
I’m curious. What are your favorite things to do when while you wait? You can share in the comments below …