I was working in a beautiful, welcoming city in Ontario. I was invited to speak to the city employees. The local (well-loved and on his 5th term) mayor, Carl, was the man to introduce the day and welcome everyone. Before we got the day going, Carl and I were talking back stage and I asked him how many of the public complaint calls came directly to him. He laughed and said “a few”. As we chatted, I discovered we shared the same view that there are just some people you will never be able to make happy, no matter how hard you try – there are some people who will always complain.
Carl shared with me a great idea he had.
He said he would like to have a million dollars in a fund somewhere to use for this special project. Whenever some called to complain about something in their safe, clean, and well-run city, he would make them an offer. He would try to resolve their issue and offer to fly the caller to another country. The catch was it had to be a poor, third world country. Once there, the caller had to live with the locals for at least a week. Then when the caller arrived back in our beautiful country, he or she had to come to a town hall meeting and tell others of their experience. Carl thought this would help put their own lives into perspective.
I thought about that idea all the way home. As I listened to people in the airport complain about the long line at StarbucksTM, I wanted to tap them on the shoulder and remind them that there is a world without food right now.
As I listened to the passengers on the airplane complain about not having their Christmas shopping done, I wanted to turn to them and share our family idea. We only buy for the children in our families, no adult in our families needs for anything! We eliminated all friends exchanging gifts and give the money to charity. Not only are we helping others but there’s no shopping! It’s a win/win!
As I listened to my taxi driver on the ride home from the airport complain about traffic, I laughed out loud and told him I just drove through two hours of traffic in Ontario and hadn’t covered nearly as many miles! A ten minute wait in traffic teaches us patience. Use the time to breathe and be grateful for a car, a warm house and a family to go home too.
I often say the happiest people I have met have either been to hell and back or have traveled to some very poor countries and had a chance to see how the other half of the world lives.
So over this Christmas season, my challenge to you it this — be grateful. How many times are we thankful for our lives here in the greatest country in the world? Thankful to be healthy enough to celebrate Christmas and the money to own a computer to read these words.