©Arlene R. Taylor PhD    www.arlenetaylor.org

articles200408The pleasure of reconnecting with friends was mine the last time I presented a seminar in Walla Walla, Washington. During the delightful evening I spent with the Trethewey family, our conversation inevitably turned to brain function.

We discussed the seemingly incorrigible human tendency to assume, whenever there is a difference of opinion or thinking style, that the other individual is wrong or at fault somehow. We’re so quick to blame another. Fortunately, applied knowledge, especially as related to current brain-function information, can dampen that predisposition¾ usually to everyone’s benefit!

At one point in our discussion, Ralph related an anecdote he’d read in the book, A Third Serving of Chicken Soup for the Soul. It was a great example of the topic we were discussing. This is what he told me.

It seemed that a traveler had found herself temporarily stranded at a busy airport. To pass the hours before the next flight, she stopped in one of the airport shops and purchased a book and a bag of cookies. The waiting area was jammed with people. Finally locating an empty chair, the weary traveler sank into it and began to read.

Although engrossed in her book, she couldn’t help noticing that the man beside her was helping himself to her cookies. Her first thought was, What nerve! But then she rationalized, Well, it won’t hurt me to share a few. Besides, everyone’s tired here and I don’t want to make a scene.

The minutes ticked by. The woman would help herself to a cookie; so would he. More time passed. Eventually there was only one treat left. I wonder what he’ll do now? She didn’t have long to wonder.

Pulling the last cookie out of the bag, the man broke it in two and, with a nervous smile, offered her half. This was the last straw. She couldn’t remember when she’d been so irritated! Galled, actually. In fact, the more she thought about it, the more incensed she became. Her book lay unread across her lap as the woman mentally concocted a speech. She wasn’t going to let this pass after all. No way. That cookie thief needed to learn some manners!

Before she could give voice to words, however, her flight was called. Gathering up her belongings, the woman passed through the gate and boarded the plane.

Shortly after takeoff, and while still seething inwardly, the weary traveler reached into her bag to retrieve her book. Imagine her shock to have her hand land on a bag of cookies. A bag of unopened cookies. Her bag of unopened cookies.

Alas. Too late she discovered that the cookies she had so readily devoured in the airport had belonged to someone else. The man next to her had actually been sharing his supply with her!

On top of chomping down at least half of his cookies, I almost gave him a piece of my mind, as well, she said to herself ruefully. It was a bit embarrassing to acknowledge that she was the rude one. And she couldn’t even apologize!

Metaphorically, many individuals reenact similar scenes repeatedly—unless and until they learn a new way.

How about you?