It was like something out of a TV commercial. I overslept, causing me to be late for an important meeting. In the shower, I got shampoo in my eyes, so when I reached for the toothpaste I grabbed the pimple cream by mistake (sad but true!).
Then my printer jammed, and while I was pleading desperately with the progress report lodged stubbornly in the depths of technological complexity, the foolproof one-touch toaster was cheerfully incinerating my breakfast. Next, I couldn’t find the leopard-print pumps to match my handbag.
To top it all off, my car wouldn’t start, and as I hurtled my tardy self across my busy street, dodging small women in large 4x4s, my handbag strap broke, sending bits and pieces of my life scattering through the rush-hour traffic.
I sank down on the curb and decided that this would be as good a time as any to start smoking. But I couldn’t buy any cigarettes since my purse was busy being flattened by an array of tires with an astonishingly accurate course.
Days like this are sent to remind us that we’re merely human; we’re not in as much control as we’d like to think.
I guess that’s why gratitude is built into the very structure of everyday Jewish life. The first thing we say in the morning is an expression of gratitude for waking up to a brand new day. We thank God for the food we eat and the clothes we wear.
I love that we have special prayers and blessings for seeing a rainbow, for hearing thunder, for the seeing the ocean.
I thought about how amazing it is to thank God for these everyday miracles and wondered why more people weren’t grateful for their lot in life. As I sat there pondering, inhaling exhaust fumes, I thought of one of the morning blessings: “Blessed are You, God… Who gives sight to the blind.” We’re not just talking about eyesight, but insight.
And then the obvious hit me: gratitude is all about attitude. The happiest person in the world isn’t the one who has the most, but who makes the most of what she has. The Sages in Ethics of the Fathers said it best: “Who is rich? He who is content with his lot” (and I’m pretty sure they mean “hers” too).
I realized how lucky I am that I have toast to burn, shoes to choose from, and my own car (temperamental though she is) to take me places. God sends us days like this to remind us not to take these things for granted. And because He has a sense of humor.
To quote a well-known platitude: the trick is to be grateful on the good days, and graceful on the tough ones.
Getting into the gratitude groove can seem a little intimidating – all that focusing on positive energy and finding the good in people can seem a little burdensome! But you don’t need new-aged meditation and alternative therapies. It’s as easy as saying “thank you.”
When you start focusing your energy on appreciating the good in life, you’ll have little time left to dwell on the bad.
Say it to the lady who packs your bags at the supermarket. Say it to the guy who lets you into the traffic. Say it to the person who makes you tea at the office. Say it to your folks for fetching you from school. Say it to your spouse for making dinner. Say it to your kids for bringing joy into your life. And say it to God for giving you another day to appreciate all these little miracles.
You’ll find that when you start focusing your energy on appreciating the good in life, you’ll have little time left to dwell on the bad.
So sitting there on the side of the road as I texted my apologies for the meeting, I noticed that the sun was shining. I had my health, close family and good friends. I had a warm, loving home. A little bird chirruped gleefully in the tree above me, and as I looked up to admire it, it dropped me a little present (sad but true). Yup, I mused as I wiped my face, it’s just one of those days. And I’m grateful for it.