My mom had a thing for proverbs. Not necessarily the biblical ones, but more of what’s known as the common proverbs. Most people are familiar with them: “Two wrongs don’t make a right.” “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.” “People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.” She’d often remind me, “You catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar.” I must’ve been a cranky kid.
I’ve been thinking about that proverb a lot lately because the world seems determined to drive me bat crazy. I’m beginning to get nervous every time I walk out the door, wondering what that day’s patience test will be. The list has been long: the interminable wait at Urgent Care for stitches, the forty-five-minute back up to get into the car dealer’s service department, the constant construction traffic, and just traffic in general. And don’t even get me started on DirecTV.
Typically, I’m not an irritable, contentious person. I try to get along with everyone, and I don’t like controversy. Honestly, I find it hard to understand people who claim to enjoy a good debate. What does that even mean? As a friend of mine likes to say, “Don’t be a spoon.” In other words, don’t be someone who causes trouble by constantly stirring the pot. I hate it when I start acting like a spoon.
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that having a bad attitude is not productive. Remember the flies and the honey? It stands to reason if I’m walking around cranky, there’s a good chance I’ll make a few other people cranky too. That’s a really bad way to catch flies. If I’m looking for a positive outcome—or even a halfway decent day—the worst thing I can do is act like someone took off with my favorite toy.
A couple of days ago, I got so irritated that I parked my one-day rental car (courtesy of the backed-up car dealer) and took a long walk in an attempt to calm down. I walked past a bunch of carnival rides being set up for the holiday, scarcely noticing much of anything because I was busy composing the nasty review I planned to write. As I followed a tree-lined path through a park, the sprinklers suddenly came on, soaking my jeans. Considering how the rest of my day was going, I was not surprised. Then I laughed as the irony of getting hit by the sprinklers struck me. I guess I needed to cool off!
My advice? Quit being grumpy! Go out and catch some flies!