Do you find that December is a crazy month for you even if you don’t celebrate the holidays? There is this frenetic energy in the air that seems to permeate everyone’s sense of being. I find that I have a love / hate relationship with this month. I love it because I was born in December and there is just something about seeing the festive lights around town and in the city (NYC that is).
BUT and this is a BIG but…I really don’t like the crowds especially when I have to be somewhere in the city. Just recently I had a couple of meetings midtown and I thought, ‘wouldn’t it be nice to walk up 5th Ave?’ Well, that was a big mistake. It was late afternoon and I forgot that it was the same day that the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center was turning its lights on. I also forgot that there were protests all over Manhattan in the wake of the grand jury’s ruling over Eric Garner’s death.
I don’t think I have ever seen so many police officers congregated in one place. Not only that, there were barricades everywhere and they were partitioning the side walk so that you walked north on one side and south on the other side of the same sidewalk. I know…it sounds confusing just explaining it. Needless to say, it was a little chaotic.
The old me used to have no patience. I would get irritated when tourists would stop in the middle of the sidewalk to look up and see the tall buildings (were they waiting for Superman to make his leap in a single bound?). But somehow, as I was about to shove a foreigner out of my way (who literally stopped dead in his tracks right in front of me as I’m speed walking up the avenue), I actually stopped myself. I took a deep breath and went around him.
Instead of losing it and not caring, I kept my cool and thought to myself, ‘is another second or two really going to make a difference in my time?’ We tend to go on autopilot – certainly not fun when you are racing to make the train at Grand Central (oh yeah, knocked over many tourists over the years doing that!) so we don’t even realize what we are doing in the moment.
I took this moment to pay attention to how I was reacting and realized I could control that. By taking a few breaths and just being grateful at least that is was not pouring or sleeting, I was able to shift that irritation. All it takes is that awareness to make that shift.
So in the spirit of the holidays, if you find yourself feeling the way I did, find something to shift your mindset to one of gratitude, despite how small it may seem. By the time I reached my destination, I didn’t feel frazzled or annoyed. I felt calm and content and realized I can keep it together during the holidays!