May 27, 2010

Pinching sunshine from strangers: A mood strategy

Last week, I traveled non-stop, catching connections each day. 

Living in airports or on a plane can lead to some pretty sour moods if you let it.  It's stressful, and freaked out people or crying babies are everywhere around you.  Today's planes frequently have equipment issues, as they are aging, so almost every flight I had was delayed.  Painfully. 

You cannot feed your mind good stuff is you key on the noise and stress on a travel day.  But if you don't manage it, you will.  It's too easy.  Over the last year or so, I've done the opposite: Tune out the bad, tune into the joy.  For example: Last week's humday was a grinder - eleven hours to get back home from a speech.  33D and 35J are not good seats, right next to the bathroom (with the long line of people, hands on the back of your seat.) 

I looked around on my last flight and eight rows in front of me, a newlywed couple were laughing and cooing to each other.  They were clearly not tuned in to the bad.  So I tuned into them, trying not to be obvious.  I quickly thought of Jacqueline, and how we've maintained this coo-state for two decades at this point.  Made me smile.  

In the boarding area for one flight, while an angry passenger was berating a ticket agent for God-knows-what, I scanned for the good and saw it in a smiling toddler that was admiring an old man's poodle.  The toddler made the dog's tail wag, the old man smile.  And the toddler, in turn, clapped his hands and laughed.  I inhaled that scene, and it blocked out the rest of the world.  I remembered that the whole point of my trip was to give a talk that created compassion, goodness and happiness.  Just like the trio in front of me.  I took a deep break, thanked God for all I've got and whistled as I got on the plane. 

Of course, it stayed on the tarmac almost two hours before being cleared to take off.  But I was largely unaware, because I found something else to occupy my attention ... You can find it anywhere, if you are willing to tune into it. 


This is a concept that's included in my next book, Today We Are Rich.   Visit the book page and you can pre-order a copy and receive a free eBook excerpt with an entire principle!  You can also visit its facebook page too.


Posted at 2:02 PM in Business Effectiveness  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)  |  TrackBack (0)



I travel every week for client visits as well, and I am always fighting the urge to succumb to the travel terrors. But, like you, I try to stop and look around for something that reminds me what a blessing it is to be human. Last week on Memorial Day, our boarded plane gave a standing ovation to the many military on the flight. Or this week, someone offered to let me use their Skype to make a call when they noticed my phone ran out of batteries. I love these moments! They renew my passion and inspire hope...


Great post! I just want to note that babies cry on planes because the changing cabin pressure hurts their ears (with their small Eustachian tubes), the dry air makes them thirsty, the noise and the number of strangers sitting so close makes them uneasy, and the stress they've experienced at home as their parents were getting ready for a trip has made them anxious.

We have several articles on intervening on behalf of children in public at (articles / child advocacy). Babies and children behave as well as they are treated. Just like we do!


Your post made me smile because it's so simple and will be a great habit to form. (Going to work on this for the next 30 days!)


Great perspective!


Great post, Tim!


Thanks Tim... your post made me smile while waiting on the a/c'll be hot 'n humid here in Big D this weekend.

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