On a recent flight, the plane was landing four minutes after my connecting flight was scheduled for departure.
I began to worry from thinking, “I’m not going to make my flight.”
After the plane touched down on the runway, it taxied for what seemed like an eternity. Turning. Taxiing. Turning. Taxiing.
Oy yoy yoy with the taxiing.
I think, “It would have to be the flight where I have the tightest connection.”
Flight attendant: We do have passengers with very tight connections. If you are not one of these passengers, please remain seated to allow the passengers who do to de-plane first.
Oh good. They’re on it. They’re going to facilitate those of us who have tight connections.
My mind cycles back to “I’m not going to make my flight.”
And then instantly…
Worry grips my stomach.
Stress invades my mind.
Cortisol readies itself for release into my bloodstream.
And then I decide to think the following thought. Absolutely. On. Purpose.
So that worry would abate.
So that stress would dissolve.
So Cortisol doesn’t go into production.
And the thought was this.
“I’m going to make my flight.”
I felt instant relief.
Sure. I really didn’t know whether I would make my plane, but I told myself it was also true that I didn’t know that I wouldn’t make my plane.
I didn’t know what the outcome would be.
I didn’t know whether I would be spending the evening in an airport or a hotel or my own bed that evening.
But I decided right then and there, taxiing on the runway, that I would think a calming thought for me. For my own benefit. Because thinking I wasn’t going to make my plane caused instant stress and tension.
I decide that I can worry if I do indeed miss the plane, but that in the meantime I will use this as an experiment. To watch myself. To be the Observer.
To Think On Purpose.
This airline knows that their own plane has not reached the gate.
Even though all my other lengthy layovers involved going from one end of the airport to the other, the airline knows that people cannot make it all the way to the other side of the airport in less than 20 minutes (the originally scheduled duration between my flights).
I’ll bet the gate for my next flight is just a few gates away.
Since I could not definitively know whether I would make the plane or not, I decided to think thoughts that created calm rather than stress.
At the gate, it seemed half the plane poured into the aisle – all with connections: Ontario, St. Louis, Cabo.
A man says, “My flight is at 9:15.”
A woman chimes in, “Mine. 9:10.”
We are all standing shoulder to shoulder, packed in the aisle. The woman next to me yells loudly, “Let me off the plane. I’ve got 10 minutes to make my flight.” Her departure time is 9:08.
My departure time.
Thought: I’m going to make my flight.
Not only did I literally have the longest taxi on the runway I’ve ever had, we had the longest de-planing ever. There was some eee-haww-eee-haww-eee-haww mechanical noise along with the plane going pitch black and the folks around me fretting about making their plane but their baggage missing the plane and not showing up at their destination or vice versa.
And still no open door allowing passengers to de-plane.
I’m going to make my flight.
Then as the moments passed…
…and if I don’t, it will be an adventure.
We de-plane finally.
My gate is two doors down. I make my plane and assume my luggage has as well. (I have no proof that it will, but I also have no proof that it won’t.)
I am jazzed, excited. Glad I saved myself 25 minutes of stress and Cortisol and worry.
I decide I’m going to do this more often.
I’m going to prevent worry, stress and agony by choosing to think an outcome will go in my favor because it feels way better to do that than thinking the alternative. And there’s no guarantee that the “worse case scenario” is going to happen anyway.
As Mark Twain said, “I’ve had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened.”
This works especially well when your mind actually believes that there is at least even if not better odds of the result going in your favor.
By the very end of my evening I am thinking, “Universe, you are so. cute. giving me so many opportunities to practice this thinking on purpose stuff.”
As we taxi for take-off, we are informed that there is a monitor out and we’ll have to return to the gate for repair. Result: 45-minute delay.
At the airport just about the time my ride should be arriving, I receive a phone call that the car has broken down and I won’t be picked up for another hour. Result: Arrive home after midnight rather than 9:30pm.
New transmission: $2,600.
Feeling calm: Priceless.