For the past twenty-one years my wife and I have enjoyed a long weekend playing golf in Florida with three other couples. It’s always been a much-needed brief respite from the winter weather in Vermont. All January it’s something to look forward to, and the shot of warm weather helps us get through the rest of February and March.
Yesterday, one of the men I was playing with simply could not avoid landing in a bunker. Every hole at least once, and sometimes two or more times, he was blasting his way out of the sand. It was painful to watch, and the rest of us could only commiserate as we all have experienced similar golf difficulties at other times. To his credit he didn’t complain, get overly frustrated, swear he’d never pick up a club again, or do anything other than play from the bunker and then rake up after himself. While his bunker play improved with each passing hole, what was really impressive was how positively he handled what was a decidedly frustrating round of golf.
That got me to thinking about other examples of repetitive frustrations and how others or I handle them. For me, it’s traffic lights. There are days when it seems no matter where I am or how many times it has already happened, as I approach a traffic signal, it turns yellow. I’m not sure why, but as the day progresses, it gets more and more annoying. After watching how my friend handled his adversity in the bunkers, I vowed not to let frustrations like yellow lights get to me, not to swear, and grumble and be exasperated.
Those repetitive frustrating events are going to be part of everyone’s journey. They can breed anger and stress, which in turn can lead to discourtesy, incivility, and an unpleasant time for everyone involved. Or, you can navigate them with a positive attitude and an understanding that there are more important things in life than being in a sand trap or waiting at a light that’s just changed yellow. The next time it happens to you, take a deep breath, relax, envision the bigger picture and save yourself and the people around you from unnecessary discourtesy and stress.
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About the author
Since 2004, Peter Post has tackled readers' questions in The Boston Sunday Globe's weekly business etiquette advice column, Etiquette at Work. Post is the co-author of "The Etiquette Advantage in Business" and conducts business etiquette seminars across the country. In October 2003 his book "Essential Manners For Men" was released and quickly became a New York Times best seller. He is also the author of "Essential Manners for Couples," "Playing Through–A Guide to the Unwritten Rules of Golf," and co-author of "A Wedding Like No Other." Post is Emily Post's great-grandson. His media appearances include "CBS Sunday Morning," CBS's "The Early Show," NBC's "Today," ABC's "Good Morning America," and "Fox News."