Robert Hajjar with Addie Daabous
This morning I spent two hours in traffic. My morning routine varies every day, depending on whether I want to have a quick breakfast, sleep an extra 10 minutes, or maybe even take an extra-long shower. Regardless of my nighttime pledge to leave the house earlier, I always end up leaving 20 minutes later than I had originally planned. Instead of a one-hour commute to work, the inevitable wall of traffic creates a time-consuming, stressful drive.
The instant I see the line of stationary cars snaking along the highway, I begin my second daily routine: I begin complaining to myself. Throughout the day, I seem to find a great number of things to complain about, whether it is a difficult customer at work, or even a cup of coffee that has gone cold. This will usually last until I fall asleep at night.
Yesterday I was speaking with a friend of mine, when she suddenly exclaimed, "You're always so cheerful and positive!" I was stunned, as I have lived my whole life with a habitual mental list of grievances. She made me realize that I speak and think positively about everyone around me, but reserve mostly negative thoughts in regard to my own life.
It is human nature to take life for granted, and it is easy to fall into a pattern of negative thinking. I have been given wonderful gifts in my life, which I am grateful for, and which should be reflected in my daily thoughts.
This brought to mind my friend, Rob Hajjar, who has Down syndrome, yet constantly exudes happiness and warmth. He doesn't waste time with negativity, but chooses, instead, to revel in life's gifts. It wouldn't occur to him to complain about any aspect of his life.
For the first time, I made an effort to remain in a constant state of joy, eliminating negative thoughts whenever they sprang to mind. The commute became a chance to spend some time with myself, rather than a source of frustration.
I know that my "inner saboteur" will wait patiently for me to show up so it can whisper self-defeating words in my ear. But a few small changes have already made me experience what Rob must feel every day: a sense of contentment and appreciation for life.