Airports are fascinating.

With all of the hustle, last minute meltdowns, and security checks, airports feel like their own unique cities complete with diversity and harsh deadlines.

When you travel on a regular basis, you learn how to navigate the unique terrain. On my most recent trip, I found myself doing something different.

Instead of focusing on my work, I kept my eyes on others. Looking up from my busy life and never-ending to do list helped me learn some important life lessons.

Here are five life lessons learned traveling in an airport:

1. Mindset is everything.

If you want to have the worst day of your life, then tell yourself and everyone else how terrible your day is going. People often create their own negative feedback cycles that prevent create and reinforce the very thing they'd like to avoid.

Whether it's traveling, entering the workplace, or coming home after a long day, be mindful of the energy and mindset you're bringing into the situation--because it often comes right back to you.

2. Arrive early to minimize stress.

Some people show up late to the airport--not that we've ever been there--and they are forced to view every single situation as a barrier, something that's there solely to make their life a living hell.

If you want to eliminate stress and learn how to relax, then arrive early and give yourself permission to take each road block as an opportunity to enjoy the sites and sounds.

3. Expect the unexpected.

Traveling in airports teaches you to expect the unexpected.

Whether that's getting stuck in traffic on the way to the airport, or flights being canceled, or flights changing gates, or getting searched, or losing your license, or having the airport security tear your suitcase with a knife because it "smelled suspicious," Murphy's law still applies.

Whatever can happen, will happen, so don't make your life more challenging by only expecting one outcome.

4. Treat people with kindness and compassion.

Go out of your way to make pleasant conversations with others.

When it's your lucky day to get a random search, smile and ask the person who's about to touch you in intimate areas about their day. Make a joke with the cashiers at your favorite overpriced food vendor.

Treating people with kindness and compassion not only makes them feel better, it helps you relax and find your flow.

5. Nobody cares.

It doesn't matter if your house burned down, it doesn't give you the right to ruin other people's day with your attitude. If you woke up on the wrong side of the bed, make an adjustment before spreading your negativity to undeserving others. Nobody cares what happened to you, they're not going to stop the plane on the runway for you to board. Whatever happens in your life, you still have the power to turn it around and make the most out of each moment.

No, you don't have to spend time in an airport to learn life lessons. The things I learned and observed from others can be learned through your own experience and can be applied in any moment.

To be honest, I think we're all guilty of not making the most out of our opportunities. Few people in this life integrate what they learn--it's much easier to know something intellectually than to live that truth from the heart each moment of every day.

I hope that together we can set the intention to practice what we preach, learn from our experience, and enjoy our flights.

Published on: Aug 25, 2016
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.