Last week I was really fortunate to spend a long weekend in London with my family, which was absolutely fantastic, albeit a little exhausting! On our last day we wandered past Covent Garden Tube Station and I spied one of their famous Service Information bill boards (you may have seen them on Social media) It said ‘We are so often caught up in our destination that we forget to appreciate the journey, especially the goodness of the people that we meet on the way.’
This made me reflect on our own experience in London, we had been so focused on where we needed to be during our visit! Our children had given us a long list of places that they wanted to see, we’d been on a bus tour, a boat tour and the London Eye to boot! I began to wonder what parts of our journey we had really missed. Now as you might think I have become rather good at noticing my journey rather than the destination, we had had lots of laughs, taken things slower when we needed to, sat in cafes watching the world go by even noticing a dog staring out a passing squirrel! I was fairly certain that we had appreciated a great deal and not solely our tourist spots.
However, as is often the case, insight often has more of an idea about these things and as we sat watching a street performer it struck me that on this visit I had experienced something that I had not encountered before in the city.
I have been to London countless times, in fact when I was growing up we visited frequently as my Father worked there for nearly 40 years. As an adult I visited, often with work, I was often stressed, busy, time poor and quite frankly did not really want to be there. As a result the London I encountered was not a pleasant place, I found people rushed, unfriendly and unhelpful, it was no wonder that I could not wait to return to friendly Yorkshire!
However, on this journey I found a completely different place. From the ladies in the supermarket helping my children choose their lunch, to the guy on the Tube station who greeted us everyday and helped us with our tickets, the strangers who gave up their seats so we could sit together on the train, the hotel staff, the restaurant staff, there were too many lovely people to list. In fact we didn’t encounter one grumpy, rushed, fed up, cross Londoner even when we travelled first thing on Monday morning!
So what happened? Had the whole of London had a personality change overnight?
Of course not but perhaps you could say that I had! You see all the friendly people were always there, ready to raise a smile, change a seat or lend a helping hand, but I never saw them, my brain had simply filtered them out because at the time I was focusing on everything that was stressful, hard, difficult, negative – I literally was seeing what I wanted to see, a horrible place that I didn’t want to visit. It was like I was wearing a pair of glasses that needed badly cleaning! This time my mindset was different, not just because I was on holiday, but because generally I look to create a life that is as stress free as it possibly can be – it’s like I’ve cleaned my glasses, so this time I saw and appreciated all that was good, especially the goodness of the people that I met!
So the moral of the story? Before you describe an experience negatively, check that your glasses don’t need cleaning first, it might just change what you see!
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