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How We Learn From Maya Angelou. What Three Situations Teach You The Most About Another Person's Character Traits?

Updated on February 4, 2016

April 4, 1928 - May 28, 2014

CNN Obituary for Maya Angelou who died at age 86

We will be hearing life stories from those who knew and loved Maya, an award winning poet, actress, professor, singer, dancer and activist. We will hear readings from her biography. Our hearts will be touched from learning how she overcame adversity and pushes each of us to grow and flourish in a harsh world.

What Three Situations?

In what three situations would you be able to determine the most about a person?

Maya Angelou said, 'I've learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.'

Ms Angelou touches upon three situations in a person's life, that perhaps teaches us about how she herself deals with stress, since we all reflect each other. She uses these observations as a test of a strong character. Hypothetically, could it be that Maya finds a rainy day boring, confining, disappointing, or uncomfortable in some way. There are a few sayings like, "Don't rain on my parade," "Rain, rain, go away, come again another day," and, "I can see clearly now, the rain is gone. I can see all obstacles in my way."

When It Is Dark Outside What Is Going On Inside Your Mind?

Obviously, when there are clouds and the sky is darkened many people are stuck inside, may even have physical ailments like rheumatoid arthritis, sinusitis, or depression. Those painful situations may occur all due to rain and the weather.

When a sports fan, or mother of young kids, learns the 'game is rained out" and they simply can't go out to play, the result again is distressful, cooped up inside and disappointment that plans have been spoiled. Thus, this stressful time presents obstacles to keeping a sunny disposition and staying positive about life inside, no matter the weather outside.

Maya Angelou Teaches Us About Character Traits

Everyone loves Maya Angelou because of her wit and wisdom
Everyone loves Maya Angelou because of her wit and wisdom | Source

What! They Lost My Luggage Again!

Strength of Character, Faith and Trust

The second signature question that Maya feels will tell about a person's nature is 'lost luggage.' This presents numerous opportunities for a reaction. Are the material things in the bag the most important of the trip, and can someone get along on the minimum or next to nothing? This might take a resourceful type. What if you lose all your clothes, personal items and even gifts for friends? Again, another disappointment and messed up plans. If you like to change into fresh clothing, this could be a challenge. How does one handle that? Are there others who will rally to the cause and help this person out? How does a person ask for help? A simple question brings up many tests in life. Loss of an anticipated vacation or grande time when traveling, or coming home and waiting to unpack all those lovely things delays fulfillment. Does one have the patience to wait for the lost luggage to arrive? Does one trust that everything always works out for the best?

Can you find the Humor in this situation?

Charlie Brown - Rain, Rain Go Away

What is your response to a rainy day?

When you have plans and the skies darken with clouds and an expectation of rain, do you?

See results

Australian Lost Luggage Comedy Skit

Friends say when you look back on this time you will find the humor in it

Do you make light of a difficult situation?

See results

Have You Got Sparkling Personality?

Treatment of Others When Frustration Turns You Into A Knot

Tangled Christmas Tree Lights represents 'frustration' to me. Is there a way to untie this knot? Will I find a way out of this lost situation? Am I competent enough to solve this problem? Will I remain calm, cool and collected while everyone is waiting for me to celebrate and put up the lights? When will I realize they will never untangle and its time to toss them in the trash and just start fresh.

How do I treat myself and others during times of frustration, delay, disappointment, pressure, sadness and stress? Maybe you will have other explanations for Maya's test to understand and know the character and temperament of a person. Maya specifically mentioned a holiday time, which is most stressful in itself.

Is this another mess you got me into, Ollie? Have you been wise enough to pack away the previous year's lights carefully? What is your time worth? What about your sanity? Santa has an answer below. 

This is my solution, too.

Oh My Deer. What Beautiful Antler Lights You Have This Christmas

My Three Situations

Post your thoughts in the comment section below.

Three Situations That Tell A Lot About A Person

1. How they treat their in-laws, that includes the mother-in-law will tell if a person will open their heart, act in a dignified manner and welcome a new family into their lives. This may not be such a quick and easy matter, especially when in-laws come from different cultures, a different background, up-bringing, race, have different habits, interests, dietary needs, and living situations. How someone respects another person, especially in-laws will teach you a lot about a person.

2. How does a person behave in a strange, new and uncertain situation? Whether it means entering a room full of strangers or starting a new endeavor, I believe this will somehow tell us if persons have self confidence in themselves. Can they maintain composure, speak confidently both on the greeting level and the in-depth level. Can they enter or begin without getting flustered and trust that all will work out? I suppose this also tells us whether they have some type of faith and trust in themselves, others and at the spiritual level.

3. Does a person share easily? This hub has been a test for me. I started out just thinking, "Wow, Maya has insight into people based upon three little every day things. I wonder what others would consider their three selections. As I've been writing, it turns out that I am also testing myself and how I might perceive others and myself. What kinds of values are important to me?" This last question relates to giving freely, wanting to connect, feeling abundance and that there is enough for everyone. Sharing includes more than just things, like what is on your plate at the restaurant. Sharing includes you ability to tell someone how your are feeling and listen to what others are thinking, too. Sharing bonds people together. Sharing time, space, emotions, intellectual property and material property.

This hub has been quite educational and I will consider more ways I can learn about people and perhaps unconsciously how I act to connect with others by fulfilling these three qualities. Now its your turn. I'm listening to your stories and comments. It's enlightening to return year after year to the words of a great poet.

About the Author

Debby Bruck, CHOM founded Homeopathy World Community social network. Debby believes that homeopathy is the wave of the future that provides hope and healing to those who have tried every other approach. Find Debby on Twitter.

Reflections On 30-Day Hubpages Challenge

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What Three Situations Will Teach You A Lot About A Person?

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    • Debby Bruck profile imageAUTHOR

      Debby Bruck 

      7 years ago

      Dear Epi ~ I also lived close to Lake Erie in the years around 1977. That winter of winter's cold and ice bearing our faces to the wind. I shall be reading many more of your poems. Nighty night and sweet dreams. No nightmares, please. Debby

    • epigramman profile image


      7 years ago I think I started that time idea - lol - and with some new hub words like hubbravo, hubspectacular, hubtastic .....etc. etc. and after I posted fan mail for you I went back home to my hub and found a Debby Bruck marathon of comments - so you made my night twice over - and yes I live 100 feet or so literally from lake erie - in the summer the breezes are heavenly and a blessing but in the fall/winter it becomes a foe , a wind chill and unforgiving - so very nice to meet you my friend and thanks for the nice time this evening and this moment that we shared

      lake erie time ontario canada 1:14am

    • Debby Bruck profile imageAUTHOR

      Debby Bruck 

      7 years ago

      Hello Epigram-Man! Whoo-hoo. I made it a night for someone special. Is there a special code going on Hubpages where-upon authors post the location and time?

      I started reading your hubs and couldn't stop! This will be it because it is also 1:00AM in the south east NC. I bet its starting to get chilly up there in Canada. Stay warm. Blessings, Debby

    • epigramman profile image


      7 years ago

      ...a great lady, thinker and writer is Maya, well, like you too Debby - you also fit into that lofty and sacred category - you have a most wonderful selection of hub subjects here and I will post this most remarkable hub to my Facebook page with a direct link back here - and yes your spectacular and thoughtful fan mail really made my night here by the lake with high winds, cooler temperatures and Johnny Cash singing in the background

      lake erie time ontario canada 12:59am and sending these warm wishes and good energy

    • Debby Bruck profile imageAUTHOR

      Debby Bruck 

      7 years ago

      Dear Marcoujor ~ The law of attraction brings you to this Hubpages on Maya because her words of wisdom from life experience and your interest in human nature. I think we have much in common. I'm so pleased to meet you as we learn about each other through our writings. Gratitude for your vote of confidence. ? Blessings, Debby

    • marcoujor profile image

      Maria Jordan 

      7 years ago from Jeffersonville PA


      I was attracted to this article because of your kind comments and my love of Maya Angelou, one of the wisest women of all times to me. I love "your" analysis of her wisdom.

      (1) I agree that, whenever feasible, it is beautiful to treat your MIL as close to your Mom as possible. In ways, I was closer to her than my husband but she added a special sanction to our marriage (as Mom did) and both are sorely missed.

      (2) I am not at all intimidated by new situations but I may be a "tad older" than some of the readers. I think this comes when one is comfortable in their own skin. We cannot have all the answers or know what to do in any given situation. I never try to pose or act as if I know what I'm doing, when I'm over my head. I think it's great when we can teach and respect each other, no matter what our age.

      (3) This may speak for itself as you see the length of my answer. I am also a psych nurse and a teacher so I share easily/ ecourage others to do the same, with respect/ boundaries being key factors.

      And finally, Aunt Baby (my fur puppy) & I stop whatever we are doing (the other way around also happily applies) when hubby comes home. Family first and everything else tends to fall in place.

      This was an amazing way to get to know you a bit and I thank you. Voted UP & UABI, mar.

    • Debby Bruck profile imageAUTHOR

      Debby Bruck 

      8 years ago

      No contributions? What are the three situations in which to learn more about another person? Maybe it is just the moment when a loved one walks in the door? This image just came to mind. Does the person stop what they are doing and run to greet the person or continue on with whatever they are doing?

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      8 years ago from London, UK

      Thank you for a fascinating and interesting read.

    • Debby Bruck profile imageAUTHOR

      Debby Bruck 

      8 years ago

      Dear BKCreative. Sounds like sharing is a very important value in your life and what holds the family unit together. Do you have three situations in mind where you think you could learn a lot about another person?

      Hi Richard. Well, you truly did experience the lost luggage scenario. However, your wife was able to easily recover due to her life situation of having a 'twin' sister. Not a huge obstacle and probably they could find some 'magic' or 'spirit' between them during that week. Perhaps they, too, were given the test of 'sharing.' Does this mean all of her luggage was never found? Bet, that was a trial to get the airlines to pay for all of your belongings. Thanks for stopping by.

    • juneaukid profile image

      Richard Francis Fleck 

      8 years ago from Denver, Colorado

      Thank you Debby for this very interestingly and well-covered topic. I remember going with my wife and her sister to Ireland where my wife and I were to stay just one day as we were going on to France the next morning. But my wife's suitcase never arrived in Dublin. What would she do for a week in France? No problem, her sister is an identical twin and she lent my wife clothes for a week until we returned to stay in Ireland.

    • BkCreative profile image


      8 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Seems so easy, just 3 things and how could anyone fail - yet they do.

      I knew a man that simply would not share - hate to say it was a family member through marriage and number 3 he was guiltiest of - despite having a wife and children - his money was his own, in the refrigerator he would label what was his, buy the best clothes for himself and nothing for his family - and then wondered why the best woman left him. Not sharing is a horrid flaw when you have a family - a family is a unit. Not made up of you and them.

      I respect Maya Angelou - she has shared many words of wisdom. How interesting too that she is Oprah's mentor from way back.

      Nice thoughtful hub and rated up - thanks a lot!

    • Debby Bruck profile imageAUTHOR

      Debby Bruck 

      8 years ago

      Dear Twilight Lawns ~ I'm glad one of my Hubs is calming, rather than scary [referring to other Hubs about environmental pollution and health]. Happy that you are in a good place today. Blessings, Debby

    • Debby Bruck profile imageAUTHOR

      Debby Bruck 

      8 years ago

      Hello Docmo ~ Nice to meet you. I purposely did not mention the word "judgment" in my Hub because it was not about 'ethics' or "right" or "wrong." More so, the type of questions tell so much about the person, as much as what they see in the person being observed.

      Therefore, learning about the person's personality, coping mechanisms, reactions and skills in difficult stressful situations tells us their strengths and weaknesses. Have they learned how to get along with others, to know when to say quits, or to know when to jump in slowly or hold back?

      As you comment indicates, person's who take time to warm up in strange situations may be more cautious at first until they know where they fit into the picture. They may wait until they feel comfortable and know who will be the best person in the room to show their true inner self, rather than brashly walking in to be the center of attention. So, no judgement calls, just learning about each other and our relationships.

      Thanks so much for commenting and rating!

    • Twilight Lawns profile image

      Twilight Lawns 

      8 years ago from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K.

      I don't know why, but I found thus hub very calming. It has started my day off nicely... but why? I have no idea. Maybe I'm coping with my stress levels very well and this has just reinforced my knowledge of that.

    • Docmo profile image

      Mohan Kumar 

      8 years ago from UK

      Interesting concepts based on everyday scenario. Very thought provoking read, Thanks! To me I also agree about strange, new situations and a persons ability to interact varies with their personality- some take time to warm up and others can launch right in- we may perhaps judging the slow burners unfairly? To me sharing, interacting, expressing genuine kindness, respecting people of all ages and backgrounds all show class.


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