By Anna Biernacka
My recent visit home to Poland was off to a rough start. First, my plane was delayed. I landed in the city called Poznań in the middle of a very cold night and I needed to get to the train station as soon as possible if I wanted to even have a chance of catching the train that would eventually take me home to my family. Missing that train meant spending the rest of the night at the station and I did not like that idea one bit. Instead of saving a lot of money by taking a bus, as I had previously planned, I now had to take a much faster, overly priced airport cab which added yet another negative factor to an already stressful situation. I am a student, after all – overpaying is not my favorite thing to do.
After spending all my life’s savings on the taxi, I rushed into the train station only to find out that the train was delayed too. A few deep breaths later, I decided to grab something to eat now that I had a few extra minutes to kill. Turned out, they closed the only food place at the station just a few minutes earlier. And then the vending machine ate my coins. The night was just getting worse and worse with every minute. As I was walking up to the platform, I heard an update about further delay. It wasn’t long enough to come back inside the station pavilion but significant enough to start feeling cold. I was now not only upset but also tired, hungry and very much freezing. That was when yet another update came up – an additional 15 minutes of waiting. I nodded to the complaints of other passengers saying that if they informed us about the actual time of the delay right from the start, we all could just go and get something to eat outside the station, instead of freezing our heads in that cold.
Finally, after over an hour and a half, the train arrived. As soon as I spotted the train conductor, I rushed towards him, asking about the reason behind such a long wait (that is journalist’s curiosity – I cannot help it). He looked at me and I was suddenly taken aback by his incredibly sad expression. Quietly, he said that there was a serious accident on the rail crossing a few miles away and the trains could not move until the coroner has finished his job. Right there, it suddenly hit me.
I was alive. The delayed plane, and the expensive taxi, and the long wait… While I was complaining about all those things keeping me away from getting to my family on time, somebody else’s family was just receiving a heartbreaking news about their loved one, who will not simply arrive late: they would never arrive. They were gone.
Just like that, my very narrow perspective started to broaden up. I realized, I had a safe landing. Late, but safe. The overpriced cab? I was able to afford that. And a lack of places to eat at the station at that time of night? My body functioned perfectly and I could feel hunger. Even the cold was a blessing – it upset me, because it was not a regular occurrence I would have to get used to. Soon, I was going to jump on a warm train and later on cozy up in my very own bed.
Suddenly, I felt all my stress melting away. The situation had not changed at all but it was my perspective that made all the difference. We often allow little things to destroy our mood, our day, our relationships, because we don’t take time to step back, take a deep breath and look around. The hill in front of us seems much bigger than it would if we took a look at the beauty of the mountains surrounding it.
I have a new attitude in life now and, trust me, it works wonders for relieving stress. When something does not go my way (and I really do not appreciate when it happens), I take a moment to ask myself a simple question: “will it matter in 5 years?” This question allows me to look at my life from a bigger perspective and, guess what? Most of the time it turns out I am stressing over things that are so little they are not worth me losing the great mood I woke up with. And why did I wake up in a great mood to begin with? Well, it is very simple: not everyone had the blessing of waking up that day. But I did.
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