Oh, the Places You’ll Go (With Road Rage)

Last weekend as I began my journey out of town, the unthinkable happened. Someone cut me off! In the middle of an intersection, at that! How DARE that old truck cut me off without so much as a signal or a warning? I mean, what if I hadn’t seen it in time and hit him? My mind played out a series of unfortunate events that started with me rear-ending the truck and ended with me lying in some destitute alley begging for food. Yes, my mind likes to work like that.

A fire that sparked in my brain channeled itself down to my hands, causing them to jerk upwards in reflex as I mouthed, “WHAT in the WORLD?!?” Because everyone knows that the cars in front of you can hear what you say to them, right? Actually, most of us should probably be glad they can’t, even if they guess the gist of it from their rear view mirror as they watch the smoke billow from the ears of your furious face and hands pound on your steering wheel to the rhythm of what-the-heck, what-the-heck! Oh, it’s just me? Awkward…

I could tell this truck interpreted my feelings towards his most recent maneuver by how his hands waved upwards to the rhythm of what’s-your-problem? So I decided to reiterate my point using fancy road rage sign language to educate him that turn signals are very helpful and he should get acquainted with them. Again, I see his arms flail, so I decide to reiterate my point with my own set of flailing arms in case he misunderstood me. Again, his arms move.

Then it hits me. This is utterly ridiculous. Besides the fact that he was watching me in his rear view mirror instead of watching the road, we are behaving like a couple of chimps waving our arms at each other. He had already gotten my point the first time, so why are we still doing this? And so I burst out laughing. And just for kicks, I waved my arms again, but this time in a more joking manner. And I could tell when he did it back he knew I was kidding and he was laughing himself. I ended up passing him a short while later, but by the time I did, I was laughing and waving goodbye as I drove by his driver’s side, and he was beaming and waving back.

Why am I telling this story? There are a lot of lessons I could learn from this (and still have yet to learn), but one that stood out to me the most at the time. One single thought was the difference between simmering anger left over from road rage and a laugh that left me in bright spirits as I continued down the highway singing loudly to the radio. One single thought separated the outcome of that experience. Isn’t this what happens a lot to us with a lot of things in life? A number on a scale is just a number, but our thoughts dictate whether we are motivated to either stay on track/do something about it or give up hope and wallow in self-pity. Food is just a composition of nutrients and calories, but our thoughts can make the difference between using food to make us feel better (and often worse) about ourselves versus enjoying the blessing of having food to eat and taking care of our bodies. I could go on and on, but I think that you probably already get the point. The mind is a powerful thing. Be aware of where your thoughts take you. Then you can decide if they are taking you where you want to go.

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