You Stink...No Wait that's Me

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Several years ago, I went on a three-week mission’s trip (humanitarian effort) to Malta, a tiny European nation comprised of three islands in the Mediterranean Sea. For people who are familiar with the Apostle Paul and the Bible, Malta is where Paul was shipwrecked in the 27th and 28th chapters of the book of Acts.

By the second or third day of our trip, I was ready to go home. In all actuality, I wanted to be anywhere but Malta because the country stunk. I don’t mean it “stunk” as in nothing went my way, and I was having an awful time. I mean, it “stunk” as in it smelled like raw sewage.

As we walked around I couldn’t help but see the beauty of the country, but I was amazed that one else noticed the stench. I figured there was a reason the natives didn’t seem to mind the smell: they were used to it. However, I simply couldn’t believe that no one else in our group noticed the rancid odor. Even the most vocal and outspoken people had nothing to say about it. I just thought they were trying to be polite. I thought the smell was unbearable, but I took a lesson from them and simply kept my mouth shut.

We decided to go to McDonald’s for lunch, and I headed to the toilet to wash my hands. (In Malta, the “restroom” refers to the room where you go when you want to rest.) As I washed my hands, I did the mirror check - looking at myself in the mirror and making sure that my hair and make-up were okay. That's when I noticed some white stuff on my right shoulder. I picked it off, and – for reasons I will never understand – I put the stuff up to my nose to take a whiff…turned out the stuff was bird poop.

I had spent the entire day casting disgusted glances at the people around me, thinking ill of them because their country smelled bad when I was the one carrying the horrible stench around.

Relating It to Life...

My experience reminds me of scenarios people encounter every day of their lives. Occasionally, they have to deal with people who are rotten, mean, nasty or just plain awful. Sometimes they find themselves in situations that are completely miserable.

Take the man sitting in a business meeting, trying very hard to attend to the speaker. However, he can barely concentrate because the person behind him keeps making unprofessional comments under her breath. As he glances around the room to see if other people are as irritated as he is, he notices that everyone else is doing their best not to crack up laughing. Apparently, the comments are the funniest things those people have heard all day. Should this man lecture his co-workers on the importance of professionalism? Probably not a good idea.

Then there’s the woman whose team was assigned a major project that makes no sense to her. Since she doesn’t want to be the first critic, she opens the discussion by saying, “What do you guys think?” To her chagrin, the rest of the team is totally pumped about the task. She’s the only one convinced that the assignment is a complete waste of everyone’s time. Should this woman go to the boss and asked to be removed from the project? Not if she wants to advance in her career and be known as a team player.

Both of those individuals need to do a little self-reflecting. Just as I carried the stench around Malta that turned my disposition sour and nearly ruined by experience in a pretty amazing country, maybe the previously mentioned people are their own sources of frustration and irritation.

Charles R. Swindoll, an American clergyman and writer, is credited with saying, “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it…We are in charge of our attitudes.” I allowed my negative attitude to get best of me. I was so disgusted I didn’t see something that was inches away from my face.

Regardless of the how horrible the circumstance/situation/individual a person has to face, the best practice is to keep one’s attitude in check. When things seem especially putrid, – before pointing the finger, casting blame, sulking or cracking a gasket – people should look in the mirror to see if they have “bird poop” on their shoulder. If they do, they should remove it (with a paper towel or tissue), wash their hands, and get on with the business of life. If they don’t, they should approach the situation as a character building exercise and grow from there.

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Comments 16 comments

Happyboomernurse profile image

Happyboomernurse 4 years ago from South Carolina

Loved this hub and the memorable examples you used to illustrate the point you were making.

It's easy to find fault with others and be unaware that the fault may be within ourselves and our personal attitudes and beliefs, but once we make it a habit to self-reflect we have the opportunity to adjust our attitude and in doing so, improve the quality of our own lives and those who are around us.

Voted up across the board. Thanks for sharing this on HubPages.


debbiepinkston profile image

debbiepinkston 4 years ago from Pereira, Colombia and NW Arkansas

Great Hub and it shows us, once again, that when we point a finger at someone, 4 fingers are pointing back at us. Reminds me of the "speck and the log" analogy in the New Testament. Often when we're in a foreign country, we find certain practices or customs disgusting or annoying, but we're probably more annoying to the locals with our "American" ways.

Thanks for reminding us to look in the mirror.


GClark profile image

GClark 4 years ago from United States

Loved this hub and totally agree with your thoughts. I have also written hubs that deal with attitude and control in what types of thoughts you think and how they can influence your physical health, etc. GClark


Cherrietgee profile image

Cherrietgee 4 years ago from Illinois Author

@Happyboomernurse, I'm glad that you enjoyed this hub. I am taking your comment about improving the quality of life to heart and endeavoring to put it into practice even more.


Cherrietgee profile image

Cherrietgee 4 years ago from Illinois Author

Debbie, I didn't even think about it until now, but you're absolutely right about the "speck and log" analogy. Thanks for reminding me of that.


Cherrietgee profile image

Cherrietgee 4 years ago from Illinois Author

GClark, thanks for sharing. I'll have to read some of your hubs, too. You are so right in saying that our thinking patterns influence our physical health. I don't think many people realize that.


Fennelseed profile image

Fennelseed 4 years ago from Australia

You make a very valid point here, Cherrietgee and it is so relevant to your quote by Charles R. Swindoll, “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it…We are in charge of our attitudes.”

So many peoples' lives are full of drama, going from one saga to the next, with always someone to blame. I am not saying this as a judgement, but as an ex-drama queen - you see I had bird poop on my shoulder for many years and wondered way life stunk!!

This is a great article and is put in a way that is understandable and relatable.

My best votes to you for this hub, and sharing also if that's okay :)


Cherrietgee profile image

Cherrietgee 4 years ago from Illinois Author

@Fennelseed, please feel free to share this article! It's great to meet another "ex-drama" queen; isn't life much sweeter when there's a change in perspective? I totally understand what you meant about the saga filled life, a life I no longer choose to live.


RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 4 years ago from the short journey

A valid point indeed. Thanks for sharing the truths bound up in this hub!


Cherrietgee profile image

Cherrietgee 4 years ago from Illinois Author

Thanks for reading, RTalloni!


breathe2travel profile image

breathe2travel 4 years ago from Gulf Coast, USA

After cleaning the poop, they probably should change attire! I would want to! Valid, important thought pattern presented in your hub. I am going to share it on my FB wall.

Voted up, useful & interesting.

Warmest regards~


Cherrietgee profile image

Cherrietgee 4 years ago from Illinois Author

breathe2travel, I'm glad that you found it both useful and interesting.

Thanks for sharing it with others!


debbiepinkston profile image

debbiepinkston 4 years ago from Pereira, Colombia and NW Arkansas

These life experiences have a way of teaching us the things we need to learn!


Cherrietgee profile image

Cherrietgee 4 years ago from Illinois Author

Debbie, you are so right about that. I have often said that experience truly is the best teacher.


Insane Mundane profile image

Insane Mundane 4 years ago from Earth

Oh, no... I bet this change of perspective and improvement of one's attitude is going to involve things like patience and tolerance, as well? If so, I got some serious work cut out for me... Ha! :D


Cherrietgee profile image

Cherrietgee 3 years ago from Illinois Author

Insane Mundane, every day, I realize that I'm not as patient and tolerant as I thought. It seems that just as I feel I have arrived, I get proved wrong. I suppose, that's just how life it. Thanks for reading.

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