I walked into my usual coffee shop in the usual fashion and nodded at the usual people looking to order my usual. It was a little busy today for some reason, busier than typical. I paid no special attention however as I walked up to what I thought was the back of the line. Through my peripheral vision I vaguely noticed a middle aged woman in black yoga pants and a white top looking like she just finished her morning run. She was about 5 feet away from the line looking at items for sale on the shelf. As I stood there awaiting my turn I saw her begin to walk toward me as she glanced at me and proceeded to the back of the line. Her glance was so fleeting It was a fraction of a fraction of a second. I said to myself, I wonder if she was in the line before I got here? Anyway, she moved swiftly to the back of the line and I proceeded as usual having not been given the opportunity to ask her. Soon it was my turn to place my order and I had finally decided between the strawberry yogurt scone and the old fashioned glaze donut. Fewer calories won today as I considered my waistline the most pertinent deciding factor (small victories) strawberry scone it was. Before I could take two steps forward a dark shadow swooshed by my left side as she darted from the back of the line and swooped in right in front of me just as the words “strawberry scone” were forming on my lips. For a split second I wondered what had happened. It is then that I realized the agility and versatility of yoga pants (after this I may actually consider getting a pair, those things really extend your range of motion and apparently they breathe well and are supposedly quite comfortable and non chaffing) anyway, at that point It became clear to me that she was in the line ahead of me but had stepped out to peruse the exotic coffees for sale before I walked into the store. Based on her actions, it seemed she had a preconceived notion that I was trying to skip ahead of her in the line or that I somehow deliberately built a barrier between her and caffeinated nirvana at 8:30 in the morning (after all, she had just run a 5k and really deserved that pricey pucker).
It got me thinking, how often do we create or hold on to preconceived notions that are just not true, but that cause us to direct our lives in a more stressful and conflict ridden way? How often do we listen to the wrong voices in our heads that cause us to distrust and judge others unfairly without giving them an opportunity to show who they really are? Could the results have been different had we taken the time? Could we have made a friend where we instead made an enemy or at least ticked someone off? Could we have saved ourselves the aggravation, frustration, and sometimes heartache had we erred on the side of good? Despite what our minds may tell us, not everyone is out to get us or to pull a fast one. I encourage you to challenge your preconceived notions. Believe in the inherent good and be difference makers. You may be pleasantly surprised to find out that most people prefer a smile to a frown and most prefer courtesy over contempt. And, dare I say, most may not even know that they have hurt you or somehow made your life a little less enjoyable. You owe it to yourself to be happier every day, and that may very well start with the way you treat your preconceived notions.