Back in 2005, David Foster Wallace gave an amazing graduation speech at Kenyon College. The main focus of the speech was sonder, the idea that everyone around you has an internal life as rich and conflicted as yours.
When you’re out in the world, particularly in frustrating situations such as driving or at the grocery store, it’s easy to just let the frustration take over — but you have a choice. As David says:
If I don’t make a conscious decision about how to think and what to pay attention to, I’m going to be pissed and miserable every time I have to shop. Because my natural default setting is certainty that situations like this are all about me. About my hungriness, and my fatigue, and my desire to get just get home. And it’s going to seem for all the world like everybody else is just in my way.
Here is the full video, which is well worth watching (and it’s only nine minutes long):
Some days you just can’t do it, and that’s ok. But if you’re aware and actually look at your choices, you can appreciate what others are going through and it’s likely to make your view a little more balanced.