Holiday season travel, at best, poses many challenges. Maybe not to the extent in the comical 1987 movie "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" starring Steve Martin and John Candy. Anyone who’s traveled during the holidays have encountered some strange twists and turns, although not likely to that level.

In a season of joy and brotherly love, it can be a challenge to stay civil and upbeat for days on end when it comes time to spending time with relatives, friends or acquaintances who try our patience, like Martin and Candy in the film.

There are other situations which try our patience. It is also hard to be happy in overcrowded airport lounges caused by flight delays, bad weather and a host of other issues. Traveling by automobile also presents stressors due from long-distance drives with small children or constant traffic jams with people trying to make it home. Does any of this sound familiar?

All these instances, and a host of others, seem to be put in our way to foster negative thinking; however, this can be prevented, to some degree, by the way in which we think. Researchers have found that we move toward what we think about, in large part by our thinking patterns.

I read an article by an expert who indicated human beings think in pictures or visualization. If someone tells us not to think about a white buffalo (bison), because these words draw a specific picture, we are going to have a significant challenge thinking of something else. If we think about how miserable we are going to be in a crowded airport terminal, we won’t stand much chance of enjoying the experience.

However, we have the ability to decide how we are going to react to situations. If you recall the movie, Steve Martin’s character was up tight and not dealing very well with his situation but John Candy’s character "rolled with the flow" and seemed to enjoy the interaction.

Typically, we can not alter the situations because we have little control over what is happening; however, we can change how we react to it. We can choose to be miserable and irritated, and our minds will go to work at helping us see everything that makes the situation worse. It is called the self-fulfilling prophecy aided by our negativity.

The self-fulfilling prophecy, however, can be pointed in a different direction. Something as simple as a sincere greeting or a heartfelt smile can defuse tension – in yourself as well as in the receiver. It can also be very contagious! Just try not returning, in kind, a warm sincere greeting. It is practically impossible.

Think about this as you are preparing to travel or spend time with family and friends. Be prepared for frustrations and challenges but meet them with a positive attitude. Think of the white buffalo as a visualization of a positive affirmation and see how it just might transform your world and the affect it will have on others.