by Glynnis McDonnell, M.A.
Sometimes, the best way to learn to think rationally is through example, and luckily for me, I have no shortage of rational friends to learn from! A friend of mine recently shared with me a frustrating situation she encountered and her successful development of a rational belief to help her cope with the situation. I was really impressed with her ability to remain calm and rational, and, with her permission, I am going to share the story with you.
My friend was sitting on a bus at Penn Station on a Friday evening waiting to get on the road to her destination, which was several hours away…but the bus wasn’t moving! There was a couple arguing with the bus driver about whether or not the husband had gotten to the terminal in time to board the bus. The driver stated that the husband had not gotten to the bus in time and his seat had been sold to a standby passenger. The wife, who had gotten to the bus before her husband, wedged her body into the door to keep it open while her husband argued that he HAD gotten to the bus on time. (Meanwhile, there were two empty seats on the bus, making the whole argument completely irrelevant.) The couple was not backing down, and the husband called the police to try to force his way onto the bus. The entire bus load of people had to wait 20 minutes for the police to come and resolve the issue.
During this wait, many of the passengers were starting to get pretty irritated- complaining about how late they were going to get to their final destination, making comments about the wait being “ridiculous,” etc. Two passengers even started yelling at the couple for holding up the bus! My friend, however, remained calm, and even found some humor in the absurdity of the argument given that there were two empty seats! When I asked how she remained so calm (knowing that I, myself, would probably have been among the irritated), she said, “Well, I’d prefer to get to my destination by 11:15, but it’s not a disaster if I don’t and I can stand it.” If that’s not an Ellis-inspired moment, I don’t know what is. My friend did a great job of thinking rationally in a frustrating situation, thus not allowing herself to get worked up and arrive at her destination feeling frustrated. After all, her fellow passengers’ complaints and arguments did not make the bus get on the road any faster, so my friend was better off to sit back, enjoy the humor, and wait for the situation to pass.