It’s one thing to practice gratitude on your good days. Doing so when things aren’t running as smoothly is even more important.
Last year, I was due to catch a flight from London to Montreal. I’d been staying in Glastonbury all week for team meetings, so I set my alarm for the crack of dawn to make it to the airport on time.
When I arrived at the check in desk, I was told that my passport name didn’t match the name on the booking and I may not be allowed to board.
It took 3 members of staff to eventually confirm that the name ‘Josh’ may, in rare circumstances, be used as shorthand for ‘Joshua’ and I was in fact the same honourable citizen that was due to catch a flight that afternoon. (It probably didn’t help that in my passport photo I’m a skinny and spiky haired 18 year old with a complexion that apparently hadn’t seen sunlight in 5 years.)
Now short on time, I rushed through border control and headed straight to my gate where my flight was boarding. Or at least, so we were told…
As we sat waiting for our numbers to be called we watched as our scheduled departure time came and went. An hour passed. Then another did too. Pretty soon it was gone 6pm and our 2.05 to Montreal was still on the tarmac.
(Side note: If you thought French-Canadians were famous for their conservative nature you should hear the language they use when they’re four hours late for a flight.)
At this point I could feel myself growing frustrated. But then a moment happened that snapped things right back into perspective. The girl next to me whipped out her smart phone, opened twitter, and proceeded to tell Air Canada how their service had 'ruined her holiday.' Bang. You spotted it too, right?
This ill-tempered tweet reminded me in an instant that most of the ‘problems’ we face on a daily basis are not really problems at all.
If you can use free WiFi in an airport lounge to complain on your smartphone about the standard of service you received on your holiday I promise that your life is really not that bad.
Yes, we were all very late. Yes, we were all extremely tired. But all of our ‘problems’ were nothing compared to what others were going through at this very same stitch in time.
At the very moment we were complaining from behind our smartphones in the comfort of our airport lounge, there were millions of people around the world without enough food to eat or a bed to sleep in that night. Millions more will never catch a flight in their life, let alone be late for one.
As soon as I put my situation into perspective it was impossible for me to feel anything but gratitude. I was safe. Warm. Fed. And no matter how long it took I would eventually get to where I needed to be.
If you need some inspiration on how to feel grateful during a stressful time, check out this podcast episode with Jamie Hughes who teaches breathwork exercises to help you throughout moments in need.
In the end our flight took off, the Air Canada staff were wonderful, and we all made it in one piece to our final destination. And as I write this, I’m with people I love and life feels like it couldn’t get any better.
Next time the universe throws you a curveball I challenge you to take a step back and consider whether worrying or complaining about it would be a good use of your energy.
As Carli Jay asked in a recent episode on our podcast… will it matter in five years from now? If not, then don’t give it more than five minutes of your time.