60 Seconds of Happiness

January 11, 2012

in Life Lessons

Happiness is something I write about often. I have opined it is not something fleeting, but rather happiness is a state of mind.

Does that mean I am never angry or unhappy?

Of course not.

Something I experienced a few days ago is a perfect example. As I was filling my gas tank at a station, a woman pulled in to the pump in front of me. She didn’t pull in with her car facing the same direction, but with the front of our cars facing. She approached me and we had the following conversation:

Crazy Lady (CL): Would you mind backing your car up so that I can reach the gas pump?

Me: I am in the middle of pumping gas.

CL: Oh, I see {she looks at my pump}. But I can’t reach to my tank.

Me: I am in the middle of pumping gas.

CL: Can’t you move your car? What am I supposed to do?

Me: I don’t think it would be safe for me to turn my engine on and drive in reverse while I have gas pumping into my tank.

CL: Well, I guess I will just have to wait then. {loud sigh}

Me: Yes, you will.

As I watched her waiting impatiently in her car, I felt my blood pressure increase. I got back into the car and explained the conversation to the kids, asking, “Can you believe that woman?”

Relaying the story just increased my irritation and had the potential to ruin dinner out with my kids. Or even spoil the next 60 seconds of my life. But then I remembered an Emerson quote I keep in mind for situations such as this one.

“For every minute you are angry you lose sixty seconds of happiness.”

~Ralph Waldo Emerson

I can’t control how people treat me, the experiences I have in life, or what people say to me. Life happens and I have to take it as it comes. But I am not powerless, a victim of people or circumstances.

I can control how I react, how I respond, and the impact it has on me.


{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

David January 11, 2012 at 9:16 am

Perfect! Thoughts for me to live with every day – thanks.
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Naked Girl in a Dress January 11, 2012 at 9:23 am

I am glad the post resonated for you today! Thanks for visiting David.

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Jonah Gibson January 11, 2012 at 9:39 am

Going all placidly within may be good advice, but it’s hard as hell to put into practice. Your little gas pump confrontation pissed me off and I wasn’t even there (except of course for the compelling immediacy of your writing). One good thing. 60 seconds of happiness displaced by a minute of anger is still better than a minute of numb indifference. It’s always good to feel something, especially when a dolt has it coming.
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Naked Girl in a Dress January 11, 2012 at 1:03 pm

You have a very good point Jonah. Feeling is better than complacency. Interesting perspective and I appreciate you sharing it.

I too have a tendency to get worked up at times on the behalf of others. The Boyfriend had an issue over the weekend and he said to me, “You are more upset than I am.” When I realized he was right, I focused on putting everything in better perspective. So I understand what you are saying.

Thanks for visiting today!

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Brett Minor January 11, 2012 at 10:01 am

I come from an upbeat happy family, so it comes more naturally to me. I try to instill the same in my kids. However, I have friends who do just the opposite. A small setback ruins their entire day. They think I don’t care about anything and that’s why I never get upset. Someone flips me off in traffic, WHO CARES? It is the fact that I DO care about things that I don’t want to waste my time being angry all the time.

Great post.
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Naked Girl in a Dress January 11, 2012 at 1:01 pm

Caring about what is really important is the key. Someone being inconsiderate at a gas pump or, in your case, flipping you off in traffic, is not important. The well being of our loved ones and causes we care about are two examples of what is more important in life than crazy strangers.

Thanks for visiting Brett!

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CubicleViews January 11, 2012 at 10:17 am

Well put and good for you. So many people think the world revolves around them. The whole – What makes your problem is important? Well it’s mine- attitude.

Anyway good for you. One suggestion, next time, after pumping, go into the store and shop for a couple mins. That’ll make CL’s day!

Keep up the good writing!

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Naked Girl in a Dress January 11, 2012 at 12:58 pm

Thanks for visiting and for the comment. Truth be told, I was very slow at completing the transaction, deciding to push the receipt button, etc. I have a little devil in me too.

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Eric January 11, 2012 at 10:55 am

There are over 7 billion people on the planet and I REFUSE to let one person ruin my day. Good for you.
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Naked Girl in a Dress January 11, 2012 at 12:56 pm

That is great to hear Eric! I am glad you control your happiness as well. You seem to take a very positive approach to challenges in life so I am not surprised.

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Jenn @therebelchick January 11, 2012 at 3:42 pm

You were much nicer to her than I would have been. But you are right, every second we waste on being angry or irate is one second we will never get back!
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Naked Girl in a Dress January 11, 2012 at 4:36 pm

Thanks for visiting and commenting Jenn! You are correct; you never do get the time wasted back. Great point.

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Vinny C January 11, 2012 at 6:52 pm

If nothing else, though, there is pleasure in sticking it to CL by making her wait until you were finished. Every sigh of impatience would be a declaration of your victory.

But, of course, your motivation works too.
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Naked Girl in a Dress January 11, 2012 at 7:09 pm

I was slow to finish up the transaction at the pump Vinny. :)

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Jessie Powell January 12, 2012 at 1:46 pm

What an IDIOT, though (the lady in the other car). I vote we mock her thoroughly. Because that brings happiness!

Wait… that didn’t sound the way I meant it…. I think….
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Naked Girl in a Dress January 12, 2012 at 11:04 pm

Thanks Jessie! I was quite frustrated.

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