Do you ever feel like you are flying through life? I do literally and figuratively. Flying as much as I do in the course of my work, I have learned a thing or two about making the most of air travel—like choosing an aisle seat because it gives you more legroom and you’re not wedged in by other passengers. But I have also picked up some valuable life lessons along with my frequent flyer miles.
Watch your baggage.
Many airlines charge for passengers to check luggage these days. As a result, people are trying to cram more into the carry-on items so they can take them on board for free. But there is only so much you can squeeze into a small suitcase before it gets hard to carry, and you start banging into other people with it.
Life’s the same way. The things you may have stuffed away can become heavy and hurtful to others. I have learned to pack more lightly when I travel, paring what I take down to the basics. There are many things that we just aren’t going to need where we are going. So let them go. Leave behind unhelpful patterns of behaving that don’t help your relationships, like assuming your priorities are more important than everyone else’s and your needs should come first. Ditch old resentments: Drop the grudge.
Don’t ignore the safety instructions.
When they give their safety instructions, the flight attendants always instruct passengers to put their own oxygen mask on first, should it be necessary, before trying to put one on their children. That’s because you need to be able to breathe if you are going to help anyone else!
Similarly, you need to look after yourself if you are going to be any good to your spouse, your children, and others. Are you taking care of yourself physically, emotionally, and spiritually? Don’t be so busy “fixing” others that you ignore your own essential needs. Take time to ensure that you are recharged, and have enough energy to give of your best to others.
Consider other passengers.
Airlines are reducing the amount of seat legroom in an effort to save money, prompting all kinds of “air rage” incidents from people feeling squashed. It’s getting crowded up there! That means being considerate of those around you. Don’t just push your chair back without checking to see that the person sitting behind is ready.
Since one of my daughters told me she’d actually started checking her luggage because she found it hard to lift the heavy bags into the overhead bins, I have made a point on each flight of seeing if there is someone I can help get settled. And that mother with the crying baby three rows back? She’s probably more frustrated than you are; give her a break. We all want to get through life in good shape, so let’s try to travel kindly together. [Tweet This] That cranky person may be having a really bad day for reasons you know nothing about. Be patient with porcupine people.
Spend points wisely.
Having earned my air miles, I don’t want to fritter them away; I like to make sure that I get the best return on my investment. In the same way, how do you “spend” the relational points you have built up in your marriage, your family, and with your friends? For example, don’t damage the trust you have earned by being insensitive in the way you speak or disrespectful of their time by keeping them waiting when you have agreed to be ready by a certain time. Keeping promises is important. If you have blown it, here are three principles on how to rebuild trust in a relationship.
Use airplane mode.
Because we’re so used to having our cell phones available at all times, it can be a bit disconcerting to have to power down when you board an aircraft. But I have found having one less distraction has its benefits: I can more easily give my attention to things in-flight, whether that’s doing some work, praying, resting, or light reading. So, for instance, switching off your phone at meal times lets you focus on the food and the people around you and will mean you better enjoy both.
Accept the delays.
Some people get all bent out of shape about late arrivals, but what amazes me most is how efficient the air industry is by handling all those planes, people, and places. It is like a big juggling act. Bad weather, mechanical problems, and other unforeseen issues are just part of life, so take a deep breath and make the most of it. This is a healthy reminder that the world does not revolve around you, that there are other forces and people out there coming into play. Try to relax. You may need to revise some of your unrealistic expectations—of yourself and others. This blog may help you learn how to practice patience.
Trust the Captain.
Remember that you are not flying this plane. You are in the hands of someone up there ahead of you, whom you cannot see but whose reassuring voice you can listen for. He knows where you are going, and he is also making the many in-flight course corrections that are necessary to keep you on track and get you to your final destination.
Of course, I am talking about faith. At the end of the day, for all that I might plan and for all my best efforts, my life is not ultimately in my hands or the hands of the people I love. Each day is a gift from God, with its challenges and rewards, its joys and sometimes sorrows. I know that I can trust Him to get me where I am supposed to be going.
And I’m reminded that the captain is in constant contact with the control tower as he pilots the plane. In the same way, I need to be in open communication with God through prayer, tuned in to his guidance and redirection as things come my way.
How about you? What life lessons have you learned as a fellow traveler? Share your thoughts and experiences with the rest of us.