I’d woken up groggy and overtired and hadn’t let my hair dry all the way before stumbling out of my building into the late November air with my bag slung haphazardly over my shoulder.
I was late and seriously in need of caffeine as I sped toward the drive through. Drumming my fingers on the steering wheel, I fidgeted and watched the too-few minutes slip by on my car’s digital display. I hastily ordered and wheeled my car swiftly around the corner. I was annoyed—looking back probably visibly so—as I waited for the car in front of my to pull away at a snail’s pace.
My window was already down, arm extended, credit card in hand, by the time I reached the double glass panes. So when the smiling barista turned and told me my coffee had already been paid for, I just blinked at her.
And, at least momentarily, all of my annoyances, my impatience and my petty stressors vanished. Because some stranger, probably the one in the teal minivan ahead of me, had reminded me the importance of practicing gratitude—even if it’s just for a free cup of coffee.
Because there is so much to be grateful for.
In a world that is oftentimes unjust and uncertain and, to be honest, utterly terrifying, my problems and concerns are laughably small, even if it doesn’t always feel that way. I’m lucky enough to be surrounded by an amazing group of people who believe in me unconditionally and would (and do) go out of their way to make my days a little brighter.
Still, sometimes I have a hard time remembering that.
I’ll be the first to point out my shortcomings in that department: I’m often impatient and stubborn, I don’t like to be told I’m wrong, and if you happen to catch me in a bad mood, chances are I might be sassy or inconsiderate. So I’m working on practicing gratitude, because, in the end, everything you do ends up needing practice.
By acknowledging the little things people do for me—whether it’s a free coffee in the drive through line or a text message to ask how my day is going. By making a point to say thank you, often and excessively. By taking more time to stop and breath and remember that this life is an exceedingly good one.
And by starting today.
Without hesitation, I passed my card through the window to the redheaded barista and asked: “Can I pay for the car behind me, too?”