I feel that most of my best stories come from traveling because in traveling, you can almost always expect unexpected detours.
No matter who you are, detours are bound to happen.
And with unexpected detours, we’re either at our best or at our worst—especially while traveling.
Last weekend, we were flying to Nashville from Fort Lauderdale for a wedding.
Fifteen minutes before we were supposed to land, the pilot came onto the loudspeaker with an announcement.
“We have some news,” he said, “We are being rerouted to Atlanta.”
It was incredibly hard to hear the muffled announcement if you weren’t listening intently. And because of this, half the people on the plane completely missed it.
For those of us who did hear the announcement, it left a lot of unanswered questions.
Finally, one of the attendants went to her phone to get the information we needed to answer our questions.
We found out that we were being rerouted to Atlanta because there were tornadoes on the ground in Nashville.
That’s really all they could tell us at the moment.
All we knew was that there were tornadoes on the ground in Nashville, that we needed to go to Atlanta to get more gas, and that, hopefully, we would make it to Nashville later in the evening.
This was most definitely an unexpected detour.
You could hear the grumbling throughout the plane.
Obviously, when there are detours, there is going to be disappointment.
And we were definitely disappointed.
We were supposed to be arriving in Nashville so we could take Olivia and all her friends to dinner.
But there were tornadoes on the ground.
We couldn’t land, and there was nothing we could do about that.
This was an unexpected detour that we had absolutely no control over in regard to the outcome.
We were being taken to Atlanta, and there was nothing we could do about it.
For some people, when they get in this kind of situation, they become frustrated and angry—but that’s not me.
It was what it was. And no amount of frustration or anger was going to change the direction of that plane or stop the tornadoes from touching down on the ground in Nashville.
So rather than grumble about it, Rob and I did what we could to make the best of it.
Everyone’s reaction to unexpected detours is different.
The woman next to me was probably in her 70s. I could tell when I spoke to her that she was reading my lips, so she didn’t hear anything about the plane being rerouted.
When we landed, she said, “Ah, we’re almost on time!”
“You didn’t hear the announcement?” I asked.
“No,” she said.
“Well, we’re actually landing in Atlanta right now.”
The woman listened intently as I explained the situation to her.
She was from Nashville, so her instant reaction was concern for her family and her home. She quickly started making phone calls and learned that her brother’s business had sustained damage.
In the end, she couldn’t find out the status of her own home, but she learned that all of her family was safe.
Compare that to the couple who sat just across the aisle from us.
As soon as the announcement happened, the nasty came out in them.
They kept complaining to the flight attendants that they needed to fix this.
The flight attendants told them that if they pulled up the news on their phones, they could see that there were tornadoes on the ground.
“There’s nothing we can fix,” one attendant told them.
But that didn’t stop them from continuing to berate the flight attendants.
“Look,” they said, “We’re going to Las Vegas, and we need to be in Las Vegas tonight because we have plans there.”
There was no focus on being kind or even being rational. They apparently wanted the flight attendants to literally move heaven and earth so they could keep with their plan.
But life isn’t like that. When life gives us unexpected detours, we have to learn to take them with grace and be okay with a change of plans.
Life’s unexpected detours are out of our control.
Although we were disappointed, things were out of our control. There was literally nothing we could do to change what was.
So, we called Olivia and told her we weren’t going to make it to her birthday dinner.
It’s not that she hasn’t already had many birthday dinners with us. But we were still disappointed that we would have to miss being with her for her special occasion.
We all understood, though, that sometimes there are things that take top priority, and safety is definitely one of those things.
When you’re faced with a situation like this, understanding that it is out of your control is key to maintaining a positive attitude.
The airline did its best and was very helpful in helping everyone get to where they needed to go to make it to their destination.
Still, when that couple jumped in with negativity right out of the starting gate, it was painful to experience for everyone involved.
My husband actually said, “Simone, if you have a copy of your book, you need to give it to them because they need to appreciate things a little bit more.”
I thought that was a funny joke on his part. But in all reality, he was right.
They may not have needed a copy of my book, but they definitely needed to learn the importance of a positive attitude.
What happened on that flight was out of anyone’s control. And the situation was made even worse because of their negativity.
Leading with negativity never helped anyone.
When you are in an unexpected detour, and things are outside of your control, it’s very hard when the people around you lead with negativity.
Not only does it perpetuate a negative mindset, but it puts that negative energy in the air and makes it uncomfortable for everyone involved.
And when you are in an already tense situation, adding more negativity just increases the tension.
It’s extremely important that when we are in life’s unexpected detours, we do all we can to focus on the positive and let go of negativity.
Not only will it help us stay in a positive mindset, but it will help those around us feel a little more at ease as well.
Situations like these are a constant reminder to me of the importance of remaining positive, showing kindness, and being patient and understanding.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I have my negative moments. I am human, after all.
But I use moments like these to remind myself of the kind of person I want to be.
We always have a choice.
When life’s unexpected detours come, we have to remember that we have a choice.
In every single life situation, we have a choice. We may not get to choose the circumstances, but we can certainly choose how we react to those circumstances.
We can choose to be miserable, or we can choose to be happy.
In those challenging moments, we can choose to be nasty, or we can choose to be kind.
Whatever we are faced with, we can choose to be negative, or we can choose to be positive and let go of that negativity instead.
Think about this the next time you’re faced with a difficult situation.
Most importantly, when you are experiencing one of life’s unexpected detours, think about the people around you.
Choose to focus on the positive and see how your positivity can help the situation rather than leading out with negativity and making it worse.
There is so much good we can do for the world. And sometimes, the best thing we can do is simply remain positive.