I work near London Bridge and every day it gets a tad busy in rush hour. At least once a week I see two people who aren’t looking where they are going (usually one head in the Evening Standard and the other on their phone) bump into each other. There is usually the exchange of a few choice words, some blame pointing and then once the gesticulating has stopped an uncomfortably long stare over the shoulder as they eventually part ways. I often wonder how long it takes for these pent up people to get over this encounter, and then this week I had the pleasure of an entire journey home to North London with one half of the starring cast of such a show. We’ll call him Sid.
Sid was the phone zombie of the two, and right by the escalator that goes up to the View at the Shard, bumped right into…. let’s say Paul. Paul had in fact done nothing wrong, he’d skilfully woven his way through the commuters like a pin ball to the incredibly deep voiced ES paper distributor to claim his copy. Sid on the other hand was so focussed on a black and yellow web page on his iPhone (my bet is BBC Sport) that he did not see Paul’s nifty manoeuvre and walked straight into him. After the classic exchange I described earlier, Sid eventually made progress towards the Northern Line platform with a frown so deep in his forehead I wondered if the train might actually come travelling down there instead of the track. That line did not loosen up the entire journey, in fact by the time we went through Tufnell Park (and stopped even though the station was closed, why do they do that?!) Sid had worked himself up so much he made Uma Thurman in Kill Bill look like Mr Happy.
As the train came over ground at East Finchley, Sid made a call to Mrs Sid, recalled the whole incident and exclaimed ‘well I was in a perfectly fine mood until that blind (let’s say ‘twit’ to keep this blog PG rated) smashed into me’. I wondered at this point what Sid would say to me if I shared with him the wisdom someone wise once told me: “no one else can ruin your day, unless you let them”. I made the call that perhaps it wasn’t the right time to share this wisdom with Sid, but instead thought I’d take inspiration from Mr Mad and share what I was told with you guys.
Other people can put their problems on you, take their stress out on you, tell you who dies in the Game of Thrones episode you recorded to watch the next day or bump into you in the station, and yes that’s a bit crappy of them, but it is completely in your hands how you respond to that. You could stew on it all day, let it bubble up inside you and be the colleague from hell for the rest of the week if you want, or you can accept that no matter how annoyed you get, what happened happened and you getting pent up will only result in you ruining your own day. You choose how you respond to such stimuli, and the more you practice not letting it hijack your day, the easier you’ll find it.
Of all the London Bridge bumps, I imagine the aftermath varies in length from a split second to a whole journey home (and probably a few hours longer as Sid then takes it out on Mrs Sid, who then snaps at mini Sid and everyone goes to bed in a grump). But in each instance, the person who was subject to the bump would have chosen how long they let it bother them for.
So next time someone royally peeves you, take a second to think about how long you want it to bother you for. Sometimes you may want to give it a few minutes of glory, but that’s in your control. I challenge you to consciously stop your strop short next time and see how much better you feel knowing you chose for it not to ruin your day.
Contrary to popular belief, Snap doesn’t have the power, you do. Claim back your day and save your anger for the things and people that really deserve it (like the writers of Game of Thrones who kill off your favourite character!)
Until next time…