“Have you ever had “one of those days” when everything irritates you…a day when everything seems to go wrong and your patience is running out? Well I had one of those days Monday when I lost my cool. My computer was down for 3 days and I so aggravated. I was on hold on the phone for long periods of time. I had to go back and forth to the office supply store buying modems, routers, etc. I had several return visits in one day from my cable provider to solve the problem. I was pulling my hair out, frustrated, saying a few choice words and irritated that I couldn’t get on-line to complete my work for 3 days. I allowed a temporary situation to steal my peace.
Suddenly while looking out the window from my office and seeing the cable man return again for the 3rd time I had an epiphany. This is not a crisis, this is just an inconvenience. I said to myself….“Jewel you know a crisis when you see it. You watched your son die from cancer and you couldn’t do anything to keep him here…that’s a crisis! This computer situation is just an inconvenience. Stop sweating the small stuff!“
This aha moment reminded me of a story I read about best selling author Robert Fulghum. In the 50’s he was working at a resort in Northern California. For one week the employees were served the same thing for lunch every single day and the meals were deducted from their paycheck. Fulghum was outraged. And every night he would complain and unload his anger on a fellow worker named Sigmund Wollman. Fulghum did not like his working conditions and was ready to quit. Fulghum would rave and shout to the top of his lungs, kicking chairs and cussing. His co-worker Wollman was a Jewish survivor of the Auschwitz camp of three years and to him every meal was a feast. He finally got tired of hearing Fulghum complain and said something that changed Fulghum’s perspective for the rest of his life.
Wollman said, “You don’t know difference between an inconvenience and a problem. If you break your neck, if you have a nothing to eat, if your house is on fire…then you got a problem. Everything else is inconvenience. Life is inconvenient. Life is lumpy, but a lump in your oatmeal, a lump in your throat and a lump in your breast are three very different things. We should learn to know the difference.“
Fulghum went on to write, “For 30 years now, in times of stress and strain, when something has me backed against the wall and I’m ready to do something really stupid with my anger, a sorrowful face appears in my mind and asks, “Fulghum is this a problem or an inconvenience?”