The Top 7 Things You Can Learn About Life from a Trip to Wal-Mart

Written By


Expert Reviewed By

Dr. Lauryn Lax, OTD, MS

Dr. Lauryn, OTD, MS is a doctor of occupational therapy, clinical nutritionists and functional medicine expert with 25 years of clinical and personal experience in healing from complex chronic health issues and helping others do the same.




This past week, Target was closed.


It was Easter Sunday and I needed some printer ink for my printer.


As I drove up to the no-man’s-land money-trap (i.e. Target—my default to go to if I have to buy some sort of household or business supply, although I dread it), a sudden dark cloud rolled in over my head as I realized they were closed for the day and…the only place open was good ol’ 24-hour Wal-Mart (‘dun, dun, dun’).


I despise Wal-Mart.


Disclaimer: I grew up in Arkansas (home of the original ‘Wally World’) and am very familiar with the store.


My mom toted my siblings and I there weekly to stock up on paper towels, shampoo, toothpaste, dish soap and other household items. It’s where my 7th grade friends and I purchased out toilet paper for ‘rolling’ the house of the boys we liked. In high-school, our idea of a fun Saturday night was to hang out in the Wal-Mart parking lot— sitting in the back of friends’ trucks, tossing a football, cranking up our Kenny Chesney and Nelly tunes for all to hear.


There’s something about…the fluorescent lights…and constant cash register beeping…and living in Austin, Texas (a place BIG on ‘shopping local’ and forgoing big chains)….that makes Wal-Mart crawl under my skin.


Nonetheless, I made it to Wal-Mart, and low and behold, even though Wal-Mart is only 6-minutes away from my home…I quickly realized that I wasn’t in “Kansas” any more.


The place was packed. Parking in the ‘back 40’, as I walked to the front door, I almost got run over by a station wagon peeling through the parking lot…walked past a couple displaying some major PDA…and a group of kids making a break for it, running wildly through the auto-zone. The front was a ‘revolving door’ as people ushered in and out, in what seemed a hurried manner—not really acknowledging the others around them, bumping shoulders, grabbing their carts with force…and so I entered.


…And this is what I learned about ‘thriving’ (and surviving) at Wal-Mart on a Sunday afternoon (when all the other ‘super stores’ in town are closed)…and a few take-home points for thriving in life outside of Wal-Mart as well:




Walk with Confidence. Initially, I got pushed around a little bit. ‘Hey, watch out…’—a lady in her grocery cart on wheels nearly ran over my toe…and another woman, walking out, rubbed shoulders against me without so much as an ‘excuse me.’ And so the beat goes on—in Wal-Mart, and of course, life. No room for the meek here. You need some serious backbone for yourself if you are going to ‘survive’ the crowds—and not get trampled on. Go confidently in the direction of your…shopping needs…or your dreams. Head held high.



Take Care of Your Body. McDonald’s is a food group at Wal-Mart. Working in the health and wellness field, it’s easy to assume that everyone’s heard the amazing benefits of eating fresh fruits and veggies, essential fats, quality sources of protein…but then you come across a 24-hour Wal-Mart, with a 24-hour McDonalds, and people, left and right, eating their cheeseburgers, French-fries and Coca Colas as they peruse the aisles…and beliefs that ‘everyone’s heard this message’ are thrown out the window. Making healthy choices in your daily life is essential to your own well-being…the rest of the world just doesn’t know it yet. Take care of your body.



Indecision=Overwhelm. At Wally-World, the only way to survive your shopping list is to: Learn How to Make Decisions. If you are indecisive, it’s time to throw that out the window. Wal-Mart, like many ‘super’ stores, has about 1001 options for every single item you are looking for. From ink, to shampoo, to toilet paper, to laundry detergent, to closet hangers, it can be a bit overwhelming. Head down…make a decision…get in, get out.



Make a List. Along with this note about indecisiveness…get organized with a Lately, I have found so much power in the old school beauty of a good ol’ pen and paper—in my composition notebook. I used to make a ton of ‘to-do’ lists on my Sticky Notes on my Mac, my calendar on my iPhone, Evernote, etc. But there is something magical about writing things down—and sticking to them…be it a shopping list at the grocery…to writing down your personal goals for the day, the week, the year…to writing out your to-do list and not feeling so overwhelmed!!! At Wal-Mart, write down what you need and more than likely you stick to it—without being tempted or wavering quite as much to the other bazillion items that catch your eye. In your daily life, write down the top 3-5 things you want to get done that day—and begin to experience the power of productivity through the pen.



Be Polished. How we dress can go a long way in the impression we give about ourselves. This doesn’t mean you need to dress to the ‘nines’ to impress…but first impressions certainly can go a long way. And it’s all about the presentation. A girl in 7-inch red-carpet red, velour wedge heels. A moo-moo (Hawaiian dress). Sponge Bob Square Pants pajama pants. A t-shirt with a hand pointing to the right, stating, ‘I Am With Stupid.’ Overalls. Sweat shorts that looked more like a sweat band. Apparently Wal-Mart is a walking fashion run-way. I think I missed the memo.



The Power of a Smile. The power of a smile goes a long way. In the words of Will Ferrell, “Smiling is my favorite!” (Elf the movie, anyone?). Amidst the hustle and bustle of Wal-Mart on a Sunday afternoon, I noticed the difference a smile and a simple ‘thank-you’ made for the worker who attempted to help me find the ink I needed. She was probably pretty used to people being in a hurry, with their agendas, their schedules, their to-dos, demanding her help or her time, and being on their merry way. Don’t forget to acknowledge others…connect. Aim to lift up the passersby in your day, and make a difference, even in their demeanor (and yours too).



Have a Vision. Have a vision, and a plan for that vision, in whatever it is you are doing. Those who fail to plan, plan to fail. I planned ahead by stocking up with two ink cartridges with the ‘vision’ of sparing myself another trip back to Wal-Mart anytime soon. See your vision in your day to day grind of why you are doing what you are doing. Be it….a vision of avoiding Wal-Mart (in my case)…a vision as to what it is you aspire and desire out of your life—and what you want it to look like…a vision of why you are busting your butt in your current job or education (for a greater goal or purpose)….a vision of why you are choosing to make healthier choices—even if right now it’s difficult or something you don’t like doing…you get the picture.



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