I grabbed my keys and slammed the door as hard as I could.
I got in the car and headed out of our neighborhood. I may or may not have screamed some choice obscenities as loud as I could, hoping it might exorcise the anger that was overflowing within me.
What drove me into this state of rage?
Just the realization that I’d forgotten to buy one of the main ingredients for that evening’s dinner.
A small thing in the grand scheme, and I am normally as mild-mannered as they come, but this tipping point was the latest in a long line of assaults from Adultitis. I’d had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week and the missing box of jambalaya rice mix was the last straw.
During my five-minute drive to the grocery store, trying hard to stew in my anger while maintaining a reasonable speed limit, I saw it.
A lemonade stand.
Dammit. You’ve got to be kidding me.
So last summer, I established a new personal policy regarding lemonade stands. You see, I am a bit of an over-thinker. My old pattern of behavior went like this: I’d see some kids running a lemonade stand and think about stopping, only to drive past it while overthinking it to death. Did I have cash on me? Did I have the time? Was there even a convenient place to park? I’ve already driven six blocks past it, it would be stupid to turn around now. Ultimately, I’d miss the moment and feel bad for the rest of the day.
Last year, I decided to take the thinking (and overthinking) out of it. I decided to establish a new rule: ALWAYS STOP AT THE LEMONADE STAND. Of course, in order for this new personal policy to work, it had to be ironclad. The only way to avoid overthinking was that there could be no exceptions. No excuses. I gave myself permission to be late wherever I’m going. Even if I was late to my own father’s funeral, “I had to stop at the lemonade stand.”
The key to the whole thing is something I learned from Jack Canfield years ago, who said, “100% is a breeze, 99% is a b!tch.” The idea is that when it comes to any sort of goal, habit, or resolution you establish, it’s a lot easier if you don’t give yourself any outs. Commit 100%. If you allow yourself even one exception, then it’s always a fight from then on. You’ll always give yourself a reason why it’s ok to ignore the rule “this one time.”
I liked this new policy. I liked that it allowed me to be more generous and I liked that it was in line with the type of person I want to be. Since then, I’ve stopped at two lemonade stands. I always ask the kids what they’re raising money for. I always try to encourage them in some small way. And I always overtip.
Even though I foresaw days when I’d encounter a lemonade stand when I was running late, I didn’t consider days when I was really, really angry.
But a rule is a rule. No exceptions. No excuses.
Always stop at the lemonade stand.
The two girls – they looked like sisters – were sitting on lawn chairs behind a folding table. They looked bored out of their minds until I pulled up and got out of the car. They were offering two options, regular lemonade and raspberry lemonade, which I told them was a good strategy. I ordered one of each; fifty cents a glass. I asked them what they were saving up for and they sheepishly admitted, “Hopefully a pug.” I gave them a five-dollar bill, told them to keep the change, and wished them luck.
There are a bunch of lessons here, and I trust you’ll find the reminder you need most right now. But as I returned to my car, with two plastic cups of lukewarm lemonade in hand, I realized something.
I was no longer angry.