For me, driving downtown is the worst. I lose all sense of patience and spend my entire commute questioning other people’s sanity and driving abilities. From start to finish, it’s a very negative experience. Then one day, it occurred to me: I could change my mind. Now there’s a thought.
I like to think of myself as having a grateful heart. Most of the time, that’s true. Maybe I should say, in most instances that is true. It isn’t hard for me to be grateful with my co-workers, many of whom are also my friends. I say, ‘thank you’ and mean it several times a day.
I notice when people do things at work that benefit me, and I try to pay that forward by verbally thanking people and trying to do things that make their lives easier. By looking out for each other, we perpetuate a grateful space.
At home, my fiancé and I communicate about the needs of the house; we work together to make sure that things are clean and that we have something to eat that day. We recognize the value of each other’s time and we are grateful to and for each other.
All of that sounds really wonderful doesn’t it? That’s how I view my life at glance, but when I look deeper and analyze further, I have a long way to go in the gratitude department.
For example, I hate it when I am in a foul mood and someone tries to make me feel better by listing good things that will be coming my way in the future. Ugh. I don’t want to think about the things I have to look forward to; I just want to be angry and grumpy! But that’s so stupid of me. I know the minute I actually think of my situation and everything I have to be thankful for, my mood will shift, and my whole day will improve. All because I changed how I was thinking about things. Yet I still resist it.
The same is true about my daily commute. All of my fellow commuters are trying to get out of downtown, just like me, and they are just as tired and hungry and frustrated with the ‘bad’ driver in front of them as I am. If I slow my mental roll and choose another perspective, I can drastically lighten my emotional load.
All of that negativity is heavy. I sometimes feel a physical weight being lifted from my shoulders when I remember that I have a job. I am saving (some) money for my wedding. I have two fluffy kitties who love me. I have a fiancé. I am getting married. I have brothers and sisters and they are amazing. I have friends and food and so, so, so much to be grateful for. Yet in spite of all that, I often find myself yelling at an out-of-state driver because they are obviously lost (obvious to me, at least). It’s ridiculous. I am ridiculous, and I need to change my perspective.
I hadn’t realized until recently that being a grateful person and having a grateful spirit were two different things. Although I am pretty good at being grateful for things in the moment, I have quite a trek before I’ll be seeing the world through a lens of gratitude.
But I am going to try to adjust the way I see things, little by little. And that begins with my mindset while driving. I am going make a concerted effort to stop yelling at the cars downtown. Well, most of them, anyway.
This post reflects the views and experiences of the author, and is intended to start a conversation. Please share your thoughts in the comments below!
Or, if you’d like to hear some overall thoughts on virtues from Christians at THRED, you can find those over here.