Recently, I took a few much-needed days away.  On my way home, I sat next to a man from Minneapolis.  He had been in CA for a visit (parents anniversary).  He’s been off work for more than a year – work-related injury and currently has no income.  He mentioned that he didn’t have time to have dinner (as I was eating a PB sandwich), so I gave him the protein bar in my purse and my peanuts from the flight.  He was so grateful.  My heart was heavy.

We began to talk about the book I had in my lap and why I was reading it – “Peace” (when I bought it my kids said, “Really Mom? Don’t you read enough about love and peace?).

I told him that the book wasn’t really about peace as much as it was about finding ways to deal with the situations in life that aren’t peaceful – those things that are nightmares in our lives.  We all have them.  People who treat us badly or situations that are toxic.  I mentioned that my big life question lately was how can we remain full of love and positivity when things don’t seem to warrant those feelings.

He suggested that what we really need to do, to find true peace, is not to point fingers at people or situations, but rather look at how we deal with the way people treat us – and forgive the pain we experience.  This doesn’t mean letting it happen over and over again. But, the key is how we think about the person or situation — how forgiving we are.  He believes that’s how we find true internal peace.

This reminded me of the Buddhist teachings I’d read recently.  Buddhists believe that it’s important not to blame – no finger-pointing when things happen to us.  Essentially, we are the driver of our own vehicle. We are responsible for our reactions and responses (and our boundaries!). So true, right?

My new friend told me about his difficult life.  He’s faced discrimination (he’s African-American) and people have and still do treat him badly because of his color.  But rather than being angry, he realizes how uninformed they are.  He told me that feels sorry for their closed life.  And he tries to remain positive and loving even in the face of those bad situations.

We talked the whole way and just before we landed, he said “I need to tell you one thing: When stuff is bad, when someone or something is doing us wrong – that’s when we need to find the most compassion. That’s the key to peace.”

Later, when I told my kids about the conversation, they said, “Mom, you’d probably have had that kind of “meeting” with half the people on the plane if you sat with them.  You just talk to anyone.”  Out of the mouths of babes.  I’ll take it as a complement (of sorts!).  But I got a gift – a lesson more powerful than any book. Thanks friend!

Have a great weekend!