As the curveballs of life fly past us it is easy to slam our bats into the ground while cursing the umpire. In the moment, we do not see past the current at bat. We freak out, questioning ourselves and screaming “Why is this happening to me?!” It’s moments like these where feeling grateful is most difficult, yet can be the most helpful in calming the mind to prepare for the next pitch. Little do we know that the pitcher (aka: life), just helped us learn exactly what we needed to learn in preparation for an even bigger struggle soon to come.
Today I experienced one of these moments. At about 2pm in the afternoon I got into my car to start my Lyft shift for the day before my volunteering session at 5pm in which I would be picking up high school kids in my car and taking them to my office for a few hours. Something seemed off while driving and I was hearing odd noises so I pulled over into the nearby 7-11 parking lot to discover that my front right tire was completely flat. Dealing with mechanical things is not my strong suit and I absolutely despise car problems, and so at this moment my mental breakdown started creeping in — “How do I get this fixed? How much is this going to cost, I have so little money right now? How am I going to make money as Lyft is my main source of income? How am I going to pick up the kids? And on and on…” After some deep breaths, I looked up a tire shop that was super close and called to find out what to do. They told me to just put on the spare and bring it over and a new tire would cost $104. Ok… not too bad, just put on the spare and pay $100. I can deal with that. Then can came the manifestation of my obvious lack of mechanical skill. A few things then went very wrong: 1) I failed to put the emergency break on. 2) I put the jack in the wrong spot under the car. 3) As I was trying to take off the old tire the car rolled backwards off the jack and landed on my arm and the tire.
Thankfully, it landed in such a way that the weight of the car didn’t chop off my arm OR break my axle. Then, after watching my epic failure a homeless-looking man came and showed me the proper place to put the jack. From there I was able to finish putting on the spare and got the car to the tire shop. Once there, I asked if the tire could be repaired so I wouldn’t have to buy a brand new one. The man graciously looked at it for me and told me it could in fact be repaired instead. Knowing nothing about cars, he could have lied and had me buy a whole new tire but instead he helped me out and saved me $80. The whole issue was resolved in under and hour from when it started but in my mind, I was making negative assumptions and living well into the future.
Looking back I am so grateful the situation worked out the way it did as it could have been much worse. Although hindsight is 20/20, it is important to try and remember when in these types of situations that it could always be (and probably is for someone, somewhere) much worse. After it was over, I could literally feel the emotion of gratitude coursing through my whole body. When this happens in your life, try and notice it and relish the feeling in your body. Feel the gratitude consciously in your body and hold it there, your body will thank you.
For more on how gratitude works, check out Thanks!: How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier by Robert Emmons.